Prior to being taken over by Disney, there was no denying that Fox’s major comic book properties were in dire need of a refresh. The main installments in the long-running X-Men series were really starting to run out of steam following the disappointing Apocalypse and the disastrous Dark Phoenix, but spinoffs like Deadpool and Logan roared to critical and commercial success, likely because they were free from the studio-mandated shackles that dictated the creative direction of their fellow mutants.
While the group may have been introduced and played mostly for laughs in Deadpool 2, an X-Force movie was initially green-lit as far back as 2013, with Kick-Ass 2’s Jeff Wadlow set to write and direct. The idea was that the X-Men sequels would continue to churn out PG-13 blockbusters to keep the box office money coming in, while the likes of the Deadpool franchise and X-Force would take more risks and appeal to more mature audiences.
Unfortunately, the proposed X-Force spinoff remained in development hell, and never got off the ground before Disney’s acquisition of Fox. Wadlow eventually dropped out, and at one stage Ryan Reynolds was set to co-write the script alongside Joe Carnahan, although Drew Goddard was set to direct before the entire roster of mutants were taken off the table completely once the Mouse House had acquired their newest toy.
In a recent interview, Wadlow offered some details on how he planned to approach his version of X-Force, and it certainly sounds a lot more interesting than anything Bryan Singer or Simon Kinberg managed to bring to the dying embers of the X-Men franchise.
“What I can share about my take on the property, is that it asked if X-Men was about mutants who get to go to private school with Wolverine and Professor X, and have the Blackbird swooping down to pick them up, what about the mutants that have to go to public school? What about the ones who don’t have the benefactor looking out for them, and what about the kids who have to figure it out on their own? We then would have introduced the darker, more militant mentor in the form of Cable.”
Focusing the X-Force movie on a group of disenfranchised young mutants with Cable in charge would have been a unique spin on the established X-Men template, and would have looked to have emulated the more mature tone of Logan, but Fox’s final effort instead wound up being one of the biggest box office bombs in recent memory.