In a gag that many fans missed, Deadpool just pointed out the suspicious similarity between the X-Men’s Cable Summers and the Terminator.
Warning: contains minor spoilers for Deadpool: Nerdy 30 #1!
Unafraid to laugh at the dated gimmicks of yesteryear, Deadpool is the perfect conduit for Marvel to mock its own characters, which is why Deadpool: Nerdy 30 includes a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ admission that gun-toting X-Men hero Cable bears more than a passing resemblance to the Terminator, famously played by Arnold Schwarzenegger. In the anthology issue celebrating thirty years of Deadpool since his debut in New Mutants #98, one of the stories has Deadpool’s first birthday party interrupted by the arrival of his future friend and time-traveling hero Nathaniel Summers.
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The character Nathaniel Summers aka Cable was the combined brainchild of Chris Claremont, Louise Simonson and Rob Liefeld, starting out as the child of Scott Summers and Madelyne Pryor, and later sent to the future to cure the techno-organic virus that was given to him by Apocalypse. The adult version of Cable returned as a soldier from the future, a powerful mutant who wanted to prevent Apocalypse’s rise to power as well as the machinations of his evil clone Stryfe, who followed him into the past. Cable’s time with various X-Men teams saw further details of his past gradually revealed along with the specifics of his impressive telekinetic and telepathic abilities. His life changed forever when a freak accident stuck him with Deadpool, and the former enemies eventually became great friends, and have been bound up in each other’s adventures ever since.
In ‘Baby’s First Cable’ by Skottie Young and Aaron Conley, baby Wade Wilson’s first birthday is ruined by the arrival of Cable, who is there to eliminate Deadpool, thus saving the future. He is interrupted by another version of himself who is there to protect Deadpool, thus saving the far future. Both of them are killed by a third version of Cable, whose explanation of why seems about as fluid as the X-Men’s understanding of time travel. When it appears baby Wade has perished, more versions of Cable appear, dismayed that they are too late to influence events, until it’s a veritable convention of Cables standing around with their ’90s style armor, big guns, and glowing eyes. One version that stands out – even beyond the female Cable or the Gorilla version – is the leather jacket wearing, square-jawed Terminator calmly standing by in his signature sunglasses.
This subtle yet unmistakable reference pokes fun at Cable’s origins, created as part of what became an over-the-top new generation of characters who were unapologetic about their inspirations, whether it be from television or the movies. Cable and the Terminator’s similarities are hard to ignore. Both are time travelers from a post-apocalyptic future, both a combination of human and machine with a penchant for huge guns, and Cable’s single glowing eye even seems to borrow from the classic Terminator movie poster. One of Cable’s co-creators was Rob Liefeld, a creator who has become a byword for the shoulder pads, pouches, big guns and general excess of ’90s comics, which were also imprinted onto Deadpool. It’s probably not a coincidence that Cable and Deadpool would become so firmly linked, considering Wade has had no problem admitting his own obvious similarities to DC’s Deathstroke.
In the end, this nod to Cable’s past also stands as a reminder that thanks to his fans, Cable was allowed to evolve and grow as a character while many characters from that era of comics faded into obscurity or became retro jokes. Both Cable and Deadpool rose beyond their ’90s origins and became their own characters, earning a significant fanbase that has kept them relevant in Marvel Comics, and even saw Cable played by Josh Brolin in Deadpool 2, giving him a hard as nails movie appearance of his very own. Whatever degree of Terminator‘s DNA went into the original version of Cable, the X-Men hero has come far enough that gags like this feel more like a fond look back than any critique of where Nathan is now, even when they come from Deadpool.
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