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Film Feature: Which X-Men We Want to See in Next X-Sequel

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CHICAGO – Comic book fans, particularly X-Men fans, have been pretty spoiled lately. Anyone over the age of fifteen might not remember this, but there was a time back when it was essentially impossible to imagine seeing an honest-to-god movie version of your favorite comic book character on the big screen.

Sure, we’d sit around and fan cast all day and night, debating why Charles Bronson and Dolph Lundgren would make the best Wolverine and Colossus ever (imagine that fastball special), but, back then, we didn’t think that Hollywood would actually ever make an X-Men movie. Then Bryan Singer’s “X-Men” dropped like a bomb in 2000 and, suddenly, movie X-Men were everywhere.

And we mean, EVERYWHERE. Since 2000, there have been five X-Men movies total, rounding out with this week’s release of Matthew Vaughn’s “X-Men: First Class”, and each one is literally packed with movie versions of our favorite X-Men. It’s actually gotten a bit ridiculous. While it seemed inevitable that any X-movie franchise would include old favorites like Wolverine, Storm, and Professor X, thanks to the X-movies’ penchant for packing their stories with familiar characters, X-fans have also been treated to seeing less popular characters like Jubilee, Toad, Pyro, Lady Deathstrike, Callisto, and the Blob hit their local multiplex.

And “X-Men: First Class” definitely continues this trend. While Charles Xavier and Magneto are, unquestionably, X-Men royalty, the rest of the “First Class” cast is seemingly a hodge-podge of whatever mutants weren’t used in the previous four films — Beast, Banshee, Mystique, Sebastian Shaw, Havok, Emma Frost, Riptide, Azazel, Darwin – yes, Darwin (ten points if you actually know who he is). This is not exactly an A-List team of the most popular X-Men ever, but we’ll admit, the early buzz on “X-Men: First Class” makes us excited to see what Vaughn can do with his league of extraordinary second-stringers.

But it begs the question – if we’re scrapping the bottom of the mutant barrel for “X-Men: First Class”, who’s going to be left for the next inevitable sequel? Will the mutants in “X-Men: Second Class” actually be second class? With this in mind, we took a look at the surprisingly short list of X-Men who haven’t been in an X-Men film yet and made our picks for the mutants we think are finally ready for their big-time movie adaptations.

Cannonball
Cannonball
Photo credit: Marvel

X-Man: Cannonball

Real Name: Sam Guthrie

Powers: He’s a human missile – he can fly at top speeds while surrounded by an almost impenetrable force field, making him a living projectile weapon. Or, to quote him, “Ah’m a darn-near invulnerable when ah’m a-blastin’!”

Why He Should Be in an X-Men Movie: Cannonball is one of the few major X-characters who haven’t found their way into a movie yet. He’s definitely X-royalty, the first member of one of the junior mutant teams to graduate to the big-time Uncanny X-Men, and he’s a helluva fun character. This good ol’ Southern boy is like a big hayseed version of Cyclops – all wound-up with duty and responsibility, but way more grounded than Scott Summers. But the big draw should be that his power is really, really cool. Flying scenes in superhero movies have been pretty staid so far. But Cannonball has so much potential to be something violent, visually arresting, and bombastic. Forget about graceful dancing on air. Cannonball IS a human cannonball and watching him launch himself at his foes and tear through them with impunity sounds like WAY more fun than claws or eye lasers.

Who Should Play Him: There’s been some odd fan casting for Cannonball on the ‘net (Van Der Beek? Really?), but we’re basically looking for someone who would pull off a strong Southerner, a natural leader, with a hint of wild behind the eyes. We could see Nick Stahl, Chris Pratt, a young Owen Wilson or Josh Lucas would’ve been great. But, if we have to choose, we’d love to see “Friday Night Lights”’ Zach Gilford blasting through the next X-sequel as Sam Guthrie. His role as Matt Saracen, the Texas football star/former outcast who rose up the ranks to become quarterback, seems like a perfect analog for Cannonball’s path into the X-Men. (If we can’t get Zach, “Animal Kingdom”’s Joel Edgerton or “Scott Pilgrim”’s Mark Webber could work too.)

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