Just shy of 53 years ago, the very first X-Men comic was released by Marvel Comics. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the characters and storylines associated with them have gone on to become one of the most recognisable and beloved brands not just in comics, but also across books, television, video games and perhaps most notably, a multi-billion dollar film franchise. This week sees the release of X-Men: Apocalypse in theaters, the 8th (9th if you also include Deadpool) film in the series which debuted with X-Men all the way back in 2000. A critical and commercial success, X-Men is widely seen as the film that birthed the current superhero craze, and the franchise shows no signs of slowing down after Apocalypse, even if early reviews have been somewhat poor.
Recently, producer Simon Kinberg spoke to comingsoon.net, and revealed that the next installment of the series will be set in the 90’s. Talk will soon turn to casting for that film after Apocalypse has had its bow in cinemas, but it’s a safe bet that the new incarnations of Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), Storm (Alexandra Shipp), and Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) that are due to debut in that installment will make an appearance. And with James McAvoy heavily rumoured to be staying with the series and reportedly starring in spin-off The New Mutants, he to could return as Professor X in the 90’s. It also opens the door to introducing younger versions of fan favourite characters that appeared in the original trilogy, as well as the potential to introduce some new characters that could invigorate the franchise and take it in new directions. So in that vain, here are 9 characters that FOX should consider introducing after Apocalypse.
Real Name: Cessily Kincaid
Powers: Body composed of a non-toxic mercury like substance that she can reshape and solidify at will.
An Irish-American raised in Portland, Oregon, Cessily Kincaid, an only child, was adored by her parents until her mutation manifested, turning her body to a silver mercury like substance. Disgusted by her appearance and mortified at what the neighbours might think, her parents had her shipped off to the Xavier Institute for Gifted Youngsters. Here she meets Wither (more on him later) and develops a crush on him when she learns she is immune to his powers, but is disheartened when he doesn’t feel the same. During the M-Day storyline, in which Scarlet Witch uses her powers to strip almost all of the worlds mutants of their powers, a self-hating Mercury is distraught when she is not one of them. However, she eventually learns to use her powers and comes to some sort of peace with her appearance.
Who should play her: Saoirse Ronan. She’s Irish, was born in America and is also an only child, so she has a bit in common with Mercury at least. She made her acting debut in the Irish medical drama The Clinic at the age of 9, before gaining international acclaim for her portrayal of Briony Tallis in an adaptation of the novel Atonement, for which she received nominations for an Academy Award, BAFTA and a Golden Globe. She followed this success up with high profile parts in The Lovely Bones, The Way Back and The Grand Budapest Hotel among others. This year saw her claim her second Oscar nomination for Brooklyn, an adaptation of the Colm Toibin novel, in which she portrayed the lead role. It wouldn’t be the first time she has been linked to a role in a superhero movie if this were to happen, having been in the mix for many high profile female characters within the genre over the years including Scarlet Witch and the Invisible Woman. Mercury is a complex character and an actress of Ronan’s caliber would be perfect to bring across her power but also her self loathing.
Real Name: Kevin Ford
Powers: Involuntarily decays and eventually disintegrates any organic material by touch.
When Kevin’s powers first manifested he understandably panicked. Tragedy struck when his father attempted to calm him down and when he touched him, Kevin turned him to dust. Haunted by what he has done, he left home and lived rough before being found by Mirage and brought to the Xavier Institute. His powers are involuntary, but they are even more difficult to control as it appears to come with a “hunger” which compels him to use it. It is not clear if this is part of his mutation, or a psychological creation of his own. Also because of his powers he can only wear clothes made of synthetic materials. Wither discovered that Mercury was immune to his powers, but it wasn’t enough for him to reciprocate the feelings she had for him. Their relationship could be an interesting story to see represented on film.
Who should play him: Timothée Chalamet. Born and raised in Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan, 20 year old Timothée Chalamet is a young up and coming actor best known for his portrayals of Finn Walden in Showtimes political thriller TV series Homeland, and as a young Tom Cooper in the Christopher Nolan directed sci-fi epic Interstellar (2014). Though perhaps not very well known, Chalamet is a talented actor and his star is sure to keep rising in years come. He was previously shortlisted for the roles of Young Cyclops in X-Men: Apocalypse and Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, before both parts went to Tye Sheridan and Tom Holland respectively, so he appears right on the cusp of securing a superhero role soon. Perhaps Wither would be a good fit for him and it would give him the chance to bring a never before seen character to the screen and make it his own.
Real Name: Kitty Pryde
Powers: Ability to phase through solid objects (and in the film series, phase a persons consciousness through time).
At 13 years old, Kitty Pryde began experiencing severe headaches, a sign that her mutant abilities were beginning to manifest. Approached by Professor Xavier with an offer of a place at the Institute, Kitty’s parents eventually agreed, and she became the youngest member of the X-Men. She has become one of the most beloved characters amongst fans and featured in many of the X-Men’s most well known stories. Of course, fans will know that the character has appeared in the film franchise before. Sumela Kay and Katie Stuart played her in small cameos in X-Men and X-Men 2 (2003), before the role was taken over by Oscar nominated actress Ellen Page in X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) and Days of Future Past (2014). In the latter two movies, the character was given more prominence, especially in Days of Future Past, where she played a pivotal role in the plot, which saw her powers upgraded to include phasing through time, which she used to send Wolverine back to 1973.
Who should play her: Kiernan Shipka. Fans of period drama Mad Men will instantly recognise this lady. Shipka played the part of Sally Draper, the only daughter of advertising exec. Don Draper and his wife Betty, for the shows entirety, but was ungraded to a starring role from season 4 onward as she became older and capable of tackling some more grown up themes. Mad Men drawing to a close last year hasn’t hindered the actress, as she has begun to carve out a successful career post show for herself with some diverse roles. Last year saw her star in fantasy One & Two (alongside Timothée Chalamet as it happens), which focused on siblings discovering unusual powers in the wake of their mothers illness, so she has some experience playing a character with superhuman abilities. Though Shipka bares a striking resemblance to Page, admittedly, some retconning would have to happen age wise for the character of Shadowcat if she were to be cast, after Days of Future Past reset the franchise timeline. But this could be the role to help Shipka really breakout in the industry, and one she could really do justice to.
Real Name: Dominikos Ioannis Petrakis or Lance Alvers (if you go off the representation of the character in the X-Men: Evolution cartoon series)
Powers: Can generate seismic waves from his hands that grant him the ability to produce powerful earthquakes.
Although little is known about Avalanche’s backstory, it has been established in the comics that he is an immigrant from the Greek island of Crete living in America. His powers grant him the ability to create powerful earthquakes and avalanches, as well as being able to direct seismic waves at an object to destroy it. He has been adapted in the X-Men, X-Men: Evolution and Wolverine and the X-Men animated series’, but only the latter portrayed the character with a heavy Greek accent. He is typically depicted as an enemy of the X-Men, but then again so was Mystique and we know how that turned out in the film series. So if FOX decided to use him in the next installment, they could have him fight against the X-Men and then join them, or start out with the X-Men and turn to evil, in a similar way that Pyro did in X-Men 2.
Who should play him: Dylan O’Brien. While it’s true that 24 year old New Yorker Dylan O’Brien certainly isn’t Greek, whose to say he couldn’t adopt a Greek accent if he were to take on the role? Or if FOX were to go the route of Americanising the character altogether (like two of the cartoons did), O’Brien would be the perfect choice. He has made a name for himself as Stiles Stilinski on the MTV series Teen Wolf, a role which he has played since the shows inception in 2011, and one which he has received consistent favourable reviews for. O’Brien will also of course be familiar to fans of the popular The Maze Runner series as he plays the lead role of Thomas, so he is certainly talented enough and a recognisable enough face to generate a buzz about the character of Avalanche if he were to be cast.
Real Name: Noriko Ashida
Powers: Absorbtion and manipulation of electricity. Superhuman speed
Born in Japan, Noriko Ashida ran away from home at 13 when her powers began to manifest. Though it’s unclear how she made her way there, Noriko winds up homeless on the streets of Salem, New York. Her powers mean she is constantly absorbing electricity and without any training in there use, Noriko would often release electrical outbursts once fully charged. Her mutation also grants her the ability of electrical induced super speed, and when fully charged she would often move and speak at superhuman levels, making her incoherent. In an effort to curb her powers, Noriko turned to drugs to try to sedate herself enough so she could have some control over her powers. She is found by the X-Men, and though initially hesitant, she accepts their invitation to live at the X Mansion. Once there, she learned to control her powers with the help of specially made gauntlets that help her to regulate the absorption of ambient electricity, thus stopping her electrical outbursts.
Who should play her: Malese Jow. Asian-American actress Malese Jow began her career at 6 years old when she appeared on the hugely popular kids TV programme Barney & Friends. Her big break came when she starred in the Nickelodeon series Unfabulous along side Emma Roberts. While she has taken on roles in films (most notably in The Social Network as Alice Cantwell), her career has largely remained in TV, with roles in some hit TV shows, such as Big Time Rush and Desperate Housewives among others. She also has experience playing super powered individuals from her work on the hit sci-fi series’ The Vampire Diaries, where she played vampire Annabelle Zhu, and The Flash, were she took on the role of Doctor Light. Jow certainly has the acting chops to bring Surge to life, and she definitely looks the part. All she needs now is some electric blue hair dye or a wig!
Real Name: Bobby Drake
Powers: Ability to generate ice and cold and turn his body to an enhanced ice form.
Created as a mirror image to the already established character the Human Torch, Iceman appeared in the very first X-Men comic in 1963 and is a founding member of the team. Born in Long Island, New York, Bobby Drakes powers first manifested when he stood up to a local bully and ended up encasing him in ice. When the townspeople hear of the incident, they form a mob and come for Bobby. When the Sheriff decides to place him in a cell for his own protection, Cyclops and Professor Xavier arrive and offer Bobby the chance to join the X-Men. Initially hesitant, he eventually agrees and goes to live at the X Mansion and adopts the moniker of Iceman. Like Shadowcat, the character has also appeared in the X-Men film series, portrayed in four films by Shawn Ashmore. But after the events of Days of Future past reset the timeline, the character could appear as a younger version in the future films.
Who should play him: Colin Ford. Colin Ford has been working in the entertainment industry since the tender age of five, and has credits across film, TV and voice acting. Supernatural fans may remember this guy as the young Sam Winchester, a role he returned to this year. But he is more likely to be remembered for his turn as Joe McAllister in Under the Dome, a show adapted from Stephen King’s novel of the same name. The show may have declined greatly in quality over the course of its three season run, but Ford was consistent as genius teen Joe McAllister, and showed he was capable of a remarkable range. As mentioned, the character of Bobby/Iceman has appeared before, but last year saw the character undergo a reinvention in the comics and came out as gay. This would be an interesting role for any actor; playing a character that not only has to deal with having new found superpowers, but also learning to accept their sexuality as well. Ford could be perfect, and also looks the part to, and it would be an opportunity to raise his profile further now that Under the Dome has ended.
Real Name: Laura Kinney
Powers: Regenerative healing. Superhuman strength, speed and reflexes. Adamantium coated claws in hands and feet.
Originally created for the X-Men: Evolution cartoon before debuting in the limited Marvel Comics series NYX, Laura Kinney, or X-23, was a clone of the hugely popular X-Men stalwart Wolverine. Created from a damaged copy of his genome, Laura inherited all of his powers, including accelerated healing, superhuman speed and senses, and bone claws in her hands. She also developed a single claw in each foot, which her “father” does not possess. X-23’s mother is Dr. Sarah Kinney, a mutant geneticist who carried out the experiments on Wolverine’s DNA that led to her creation, and she eventually was forced into becoming her surrogate. After her birth, Laura was exposed to radiation to activate her mutant powers by Dr. Zander Rice, who wanted to turn her into a killing machine. At 7, she had her bone claws ripped from her hands and feet, covered with adamantium and forced back into her body, without anesthetic. Following this, X-23 is trained as a deadly hired assassin and exposed to a trigger scent which sends her into a murderous rage. It is this scent that leads to her murdering her mother. As her mother lay dying, she hands her daughter an envelope containing photos of Professor X, Wolverine and the Xavier Institute, which compels X-23 to seek them out, and eventually join them.
Who should play her: Ivana Baquero. At the age of 11, Spanish actress Ivana Baquero was hand picked by Guillermo del Toro to star in his dark fantasy epic Pan’s Labyrinth. She received wide spread critical acclaim for her performance and received numerous award nominations, a number of which she converted to wins. Roles in the horror film The New Daughter alongside Kevin Costner and Another Me alongside Sophie Turner followed. In 2015 she landed the part of Eretria, a tough as nails young woman raised by thieves in the MTV series The Shannara Chronicles, an adaptation of the novels by Terry Brooks. The show premiered earlier this year and already has been renewed for a second series, due to drop next year. So, she looks the part, is a talented actress,and has experience playing a strong female character. What more could you want when casting the role of X-23?
Real Name: James Madrox
Jamie Madrox was born and raised in New Mexico, next to a research facility producing radiation which may have accelerated his mutant abilities. His powers are triggered by impact; when the doctor slapped him following his birth, he multiplied into two identical babies. The source of his duplication is an absorption of kinetic energy, which prompts his father to create a suit that is capable of absorbing the energy, allowing Madrox to control his powers. The duplicates have the same power as Jamie, but as the “prime”, he is linked telepathically and emphatically to each of them. When he does reabsorb the duplicates, Jamie inherits any memories, knowledge and skills that it had accumulated. The character appeared in the film X-Men: The Last Stand, played by Eric Dane, in a tiny cameo role. Here the character is portrayed as a villain who uses his abilities to rob banks.
Who should play him: Robert Sheehan. Irish readers will know Robert Sheehan for his portrayal of Darren in the hugely successful crime drama Love/Hate. Prior to that, he played the part of Nathan Young in the British television series Misfits, which documented the lives of young offenders on community service who receive superpowers following a freak lightning storm. Sheehan was the breakout star of the series and praised for his comedic performance. International recognition looked to be on the horizon when he was cast in the adaptation of the popular young adult series The Mortal Instruments, but poor box office returns and abysmal reviews meant that a sequel never materialised. It’s a shame, because Sheehan is an extremely talented actor, with the ability to convince in any genre, from drama to comedy. He had previously been cast in an X-Men film, when he won the role of Banshee in X-Men: First Class but unfortunately had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts. Multiple Man could be a good fit for the actor if he were to be considered for the X universe again, as his powers lend themselves to comedy, but Sheehan would also be capable of showing the drama surrounding a multiplying mutant who loses his parents and can’t control his powers.
Real Name: Anna Marie
Powers: Involuntary absorption of skills, memories and life force through touch.
Beloved among X-Men fans, the self styled southern belle was horrified when her mutant abilities manifested during her first kiss, leaving the boy in a coma. Seeing her powers as nothing more than a curse, Anna Marie ran away from home and adopted the moniker of Rogue. She encountered Mystique, who manipulated Rogue’s feelings of loneliness and self-loathing in order to get her to join the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. This eventually leads to a clash with the X-Men, and more importantly, Ms. Marvel which results in Rogue permanently absorbing her abilities and personality traits, and the creation of a dormant alternate personality in Rogue’s mind, which she finds hard to suppress. Disillusioned with Mystique, she desperately turns to Professor Xavier for help, who welcomes her into the X-Men family, though the rest of the team are initially hesitant and do not trust her. She eventually manages to gain their trust, as well as come to terms with her abilities, and has become one of the most enduring team members to date. As X-Men fans will know, Rogue has appeared in four of the previous X-Men films, played by Oscar winner Anna Paquin. Many fans have been critical of the character, feeling that she hasn’t been properly represented on screen. Personally, I feel this was no fault of Paquin’s; at the end of the day she had to go with what the script dictated. But, while it was a smart move to have Rogue appear in the first film as a scared and lonely runaway, the sequels never developed her character beyond that.
Who should play her: Olivia Holt. The events of Days of Future Past saw the franchise timeline reset, and the next film is the perfect opportunity to introduce a young version of the character. As for who should play her, Olivia Holt could be perfect. The 18 year old was born in Tennessee and raised in Mississippi, so she fits the southern bill. She has made a name for herself on Disney shows such as I Didn’t Do It and Kickin’ It, but as she gets older, it’s inevitable that she will try to shake off the Disney Girl image, and 2016 appears to be the year where she starts. She will be seen in the films Class Rank, an offbeat comedy about two teenagers and two grandparents whose worlds are turned upside down when love appears at their doorstep, and The Standoff, a movie about a winner takes all competition. Next year will see her star as Regan Hall in an adaptation of the memoir by Ron Hall and Denver Moore called Same Kind of Different as Me, alongside Renee Zellweger, Jon Voight and Djimon Hounsou. Holt is clearly an actress on the rise and an X-Men movie could really see her becoming a household name. Additionally, if Rogue and Wither were to appear in the same movie, it could create an interesting relationship between two characters who are essentially segregated because of their inability to touch anyone.
So there you have it! Nine mutants, some old, some new that I think would make great additions to the X-Men franchise going forward. Do you agree? Or do you have another favourite character or actor that you’d love to see? Have your say by voting in the poll below and leave a comment to share your views! Also, I’ll be taking a trip to see X-Men: Apocalypse soon and will be airing my views on it after, so keep an eye out for that if you’re interested!