'Deadpool 2': The Rise and Fall of X-Force

The group of mutants had a long history before getting a big-screen debut.

When Deadpool 2 hits theaters Friday, audiences will get to meet X-Force, the superteam of mutants created by Deadpool mastermind Rob Liefeld.

Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) assembles the team to help him against Josh Brolin's Cable, with the X-Force in the movie consisting of Domino (Zazie Beetz), Bedlam (Terry Crews), Shatterstar (Lewis Tan) and Peter W. (Rob Delaney) — a new character created for the movie. There is more of X-Force to come, with a Deadpdool spinoff focusing on the mutants already in the works from director Drew Goddard.

The version of the team in Deadpool 2 is just one of the many X-Force lineups over the years. The below except from the new book 100 Things X-Men Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die chronicles the rise and fall of various incarnations of the X-Force in the comics.


X-Force is the name of a variety of prominent teams related to the X-Men, who were generally quite different in tone from each other, but shared one major thing in common — their willingness to work outside "the line.”

The first X-Force was the logical extension of the New Mutants being given a new, militaristic leader in Cable. Slowly but surely, Rob Liefeld got rid of most of the members of New Mutants and replaced them with tougher, more "extreme" characters like Shatterstar, Feral, Domino and Warpath. Only Cannonball and Boom-Boom remained from the original New Mutants, and Boom-Boom was used mostly as comic relief. The team was driven by Cable, who apparently felt it was his duty to get Cannonball and the others ready for a dark future by turning them into an elite paramilitary unit (Domino was important for this job, since she had formerly worked with Cable on precisely that sort of unit when they were both mercenaries together).

When Cable disappeared on the group (Cable has always been very prone to disappearing on people, typically through some sort of time-traveling adventure), Cannonball took over the reins of the team. Slowly, more and more of his New Mutants teammates were working their way back to the team, like Sunspot and Rictor and then Dani Moonstar (Siryn also joined the team pretty early on — she was a bit more of an old-school hero, so she did not fit that well with the "extreme" heroes like Feral and Shatterstar). Eventually, X-Force just became the New Mutants under another name.

Right before the original X-Force ended, it was revamped to be more of a black ops team, working with Pete Wisdom (a British operative) and Domino. When that series ended with the whole cast of the book seemingly dying, they were quickly replaced with the strangest version of X-Force yet. The new X-Force was a group of reality-show-style heroes, whose adventures were constantly being recorded, and they were treated like rock stars. The original X-Force contested the use of the name and eventually this X-Force renamed themselves X-Statix.

After a few reunions of the original Cable-led version of X-Force, the next big step for the group was when Cyclops decided that the X-Men should have its own secret black ops team. It would be a team that could go out and eliminate threats to the X-Men before they attacked the X-Men. In effect, Cyclops created his own little secret murder squad. Wolverine, Warpath, Wolfsbane, Domino, Archangel and X-23 were the main members of the team, with Elixir serving as essentially their medic through his healing powers, and the Vanisher as their transportation through his teleporting powers. One of the most offensive aspects was team member X-23, a mutant who had come to the X-Men for help with her urges to kill (she had been cloned from Wolverine and raised to be an assassin), so to see Cyclops turn around and use her worst impulses to help his murder squad was dispiriting.

Eventually, Wolverine decided that X-Force could no longer follow Cyclops' direction. Rather than shut the team down, however, he restarted the team as an independent group using the same basic agenda that it had under Cyclops' rule, just with the agenda being set by the team members and not Cyclops. The new group was made up of Wolverine, Psylocke, Archangel, Deadpool and Fantomex. On their first mission, they encountered a young child who was a clone of Apocalypse and destined to take over as the new Apocalypse eventually. The team was torn on whether it was right to kill a child before he became a villain. Psylocke stood against her teammates to try to keep them from killing the kid, but Fantomex ultimately managed to shoot the kid in the head. The problem was that with the clone out of the way, the next step was to use Apocalypse's hidden programming to turn Archangel into the next Apocalypse. Eventually, X-Force were forced to kill their own teammate.

After that team broke up, two rival versions of X-Force debuted — one led by Cable and made up of mutants on the run, including Colossus (who felt guilty over his actions when he was possessed by the Phoenix Force), and another led by Storm and Psylocke and trying to keep up the original mission of the previous Wolverine-led X-Force. Ultimately, the two teams merged into one. That merged series has since ended, and it has been the last X-Force comic for the past few years.

This excerpt from 100 Things X-Men Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die, by Brian Cronin, is presented with permission from Triumph Books. For more information or to order a copy please visit www.triumphbooks.com/100xmen.

  • Brian Cronin