Cable creator Rob Liefeld praised Josh Brolin's Deadpool 2 look as "the textbook definition of nailed it," but if you get away from the tone and feel of Cable and get into the nuts and bolts -- how close did they come?
Well, he sure looks the part. He's striking familiar poses, wearing pouches and carrying a big-ass gun.
There are elements of the character that will never be translatable to live-action without it descending into comedy, becuase the ultra-stylized nature of Rob Liefeld's art means that certain things work on the printed page that likely would not work in live action (massive shoulder pads and a big, metal "X"...thing...on his chest come to mind).
That said, after Deadpool wowed fans in part by bringing Deadpool and Colossus to the big screen in an almost entirely unchanged way, there has been a lot of scrutiny of the Cable and Domino costumes we have seen from Deadpool 2 so far. By and large, they are impressive enough that the scrutiny is transforming into appreciation, but obviously there are going to be nitpickers.
So let's do that!
Err, we mean, let's take a closer look at Brolin's first pair of Cable photos and see what there is to say.
When Cable was first introduced, digital coloring was not common in comics and the lighting effects that we see in the photo below (as well as on many contemporary comic book covers) were basically non-existent.
The popularity of Cable and other cybernetically-enhanced characters was likely one of the factors that helped to mainstream that in the X-Men books and Marvel Comics in general so quickly.
What's interesting of course is that he is an alternate-future son of Cyclops, so having one eye that's replaced by techno-organic parts and one that has a scar over it is notable.
For the purposes of this movie? Yeah, the "main" scar is pretty much spot-on, and the other big scar on his face gives him the right grizzled look for the whole "old soldier" vibe the movie is chasing.
Meanwhile, of course, we've got the first of a handful of techno-organic enhancements in the left eye -- basically the perfect live-action interpretation of the comics.
One of a handful of things Rob Liefeld's art is famous for -- and one of the things that he, along with Jim Lee, helped to popularize in the '90s -- is pouches.
If that seems like an odd thing to be famous for, you probably just don't read a ton of superhero comics. In the '90s, the advent of pouches started taking over for plainer utility belts and the like, and contributed to a feeling that all those cool toys superheroes produce seemingly out of nowhere should have a source.
It is, in many ways, the start of a line that you can draw from then to now, with artists like Bryan Hitch and Steve McNiven drawing more photorealistic costumes that incorporate seams and such.
But Liefeld in particular was an, ahem, enthusiastic embracer of pouches in character design, so much so that even at a time when that look was pretty popular, people used to joke about it, and identify it as a Liefeld trademark.
Here, they all appear to be functional -- but the fact remains that there are three pouches up top holding those battery-looking munitions, three ammo clip pouches, and at least two holsters with guns in them. Two more ammo pouches and a third that might be another gun, or might just be something to hang his teddy bear from, appear on his hip.
That is a not-insignificant number of pouches for a first look.
There is also another object in this front-right pouch (barely visible in this picture), which appears to be covered in duct tape. It is not, at least at first glance, a weapon, so it may be a plot point.
As noted above, Cable not only has a lot of pouches, but a lot of guns.
Not enough guns for some fans -- that was actually something we saw on social media a bit -- but he has at least three and possibly four guns in the full-body photo, the most obvious of which is truly massive.
That is a pretty common state of being for ol' Cable: Liefeld loves his massive guns, and Cable being a physically-imposing character has no problem carrying around weapons that make even the giant blaster he's got here look like a pea shooter.
There is kind of a retro-futuristic look to this one that makes the design cool: it appears to have both some kind of energy-based blaster in it as well as some serious projectile and concussive rounds -- and while there are red lights to indicate the battery on the energy portion, it also has a dial that looks like the volume knob on a 1990s Suzuki electric guitar, presumably to dial up or down the intensity of the blasts.
The wooden butt also gives it a gritty, real-world aesthetic that the movie version of Cable has a bit more than the sleek, high-tech comics version.
Besides his eyes, the thing that sticks out the most about Cable in the comics is probably his hulking, cybernetic arm.
Like his eyes, the arm is tied into a techno-organic virus that he manages to keep barely under control, but it made him a standard-bearer for a lot of '90s antiheroes, including some that Liefeld himself would create after leaving Marvel Comics to co-found Image in the early '90s.
Here, the arm is less massive; like everything else on Cable it has been downsized a little bit so that it still mostly looks like Josh Brolin. The arm itself, however, has a great look. It's comics-accurate without looking too high-tech for the rest of the costume -- or too indistinguishable from Colossus, who has the highly-polished, lighter-color silver that Cable usually has in the books.
THE TEDDY BEAR
Okay, so we have no real idea why there's a teddy bear on Cable's belt.
The internet's favorite theory is that it's indicative of a Hope Summers subplot -- which is why there have been dozens of images in your social media timeline of Cable with a baby strapped to his giant barrel chest today.
If we had to guess, though? We're thinking it probably means basically nothing.
The casting reveals for Deadpool 2 so far have had character. Domino was atop a "bear skin rug-style Deadpool costume, and Julian Dennison's casting was announced via a photo that saw him riding Deadpool piggy-backed like Yoda on Luke Skywalker.
So while, yes, it could be that there is a profound character or plot reason behind the teddy bear, it is arguably more likely that it is there to make everyone ask "What's with the teddy bear?" The rest of the image, after all, is pretty boilerplate Cable.
And the idea of "big strong men who are fascinated with unlikely stuffed animals" has become a bit of a recurring trope in superhero movies of late. Both Deadpool and Suicide Squad had gags about dangerous maniacs who loved unicorns...like, a lot.
WHAT THEY CHANGED
There are a number of minor changes.
- Cable's hair being salt-and-pepper rather than pure white is probably an aesthetic choice: in comics, he pure white hair on a young-looking person is easier to carry off. On film, unless you're Steve Martin, it's a tough sell. Besides that, both the color and style of Brolin's hair, while different from the comics, really sells the "soldier from the future" origin.
- There are "tendrils" of his techno-organic bits that are crawling up into his neck, something that is not common to Cable's most popular designs -- although not totally unseen by comic book fans; characters like the Cyborg Superman and Conduit, both big '90s villains in the Superman titles who came along not long after Cable, had those.
- There are no shoulder pads. While their size has varied over the years and on the whole they have shrunk in the recent past, it is still uncommon to see artists draw Cable totally without shoulder pads, in part because those massive shoulder pads go with the pouches as twin trademarks of Liefeld's '90s aesthetic. Like the subtle nod to Liefeld's pouches in the first movie, try to act surprised with the Merc With a Mouth makes a crack about shoulder pads somewhere in this movie.
- And there is of course his size. Frankly, even among Liefeld's hugely-muscled creations, Cable is one of the most massive. Not only would it be difficult to translate that directly for the screen, but Cable's statue has shrunk to be more in line with other big superheroes in more recent years.
Deadpool 2, currently in production, follows 2016's surprise superhero mega-hit. The Ryan Reynolds vehicle earned more than $783 million worldwide on a budget that was less than half of what comparably successful superhero tentpoles like Doctor Strange and Suicide Squad cost to make. In addition to Beetz and Brolin's roles, Deadpool stars TJ Miller, Stefan Kapicic, Brianna Hildebrand, and Karan Soni will reprise roles from the original film.