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Who the fuck is that? He's the man outta time!
Who the fuck is that? He likes to fight crime!
Who the fuck is that? He hang out with 'Pool!
Who the fuck is that? But he ain't a fool!
It's fuckin' Cable!

Cable is a fictional character that appears in comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character first appeared in "The New Mutants" #87 (March 1990), and was created by writer Louise Simonson and artist/co-writer Rob Liefeld.

Cable, or Nathan Christopher Charles Dayspring Askani'son Summers, is a time-traveling soldier from the future who is here to prevent his apocalyptic timeline from coming to pass. He is biologically the son of X-Men Madelyne Pryor (a clone of Jean Grey) and Scott Summers, a.k.a. Cyclops, and the step-son and genetic proxy son of Jean Grey. As an infant, he first appeared in Uncanny X-Men #201 (January, 1986), though it took years for said infant and the time-traveling adult to be revealed as the same individual.

Thanks to the machinations of Mr. Sinister, he was born with a destiny—to kill Apocalypse. Not being an idiot, Apocalypse took steps to prevent this at an early stage by infecting Nathan with a special "techno-organic virus" which severely limited his powers and would have killed him if his loving father and, uh, step-mother hadn't sent him 2,000 years into the future to be raised by his alternate-universe sort-of-half-sister's all-female psychic death cult (it's okay—Scott and Jean spent their honeymoon living in cloned bodies in the future in order to raise little baby Nathan up to be a man).


Once he had grown into a grizzled old veteran, Nathan came back in time to the present in order to kill Apocalypse before he could conquer the world.

Now that Cable has accomplished his mission (repeatedly), he has become a man without a purpose; the character has been bounced around through a variety of new concepts. He's been a member of the X-Men more than once, became a messiah figure and developed an Odd Friendship with a certain psychotic katana-wielding mercenary, then adopted and raised Hope, the first mutant born after the mass depowering, while traveling through time. After returning to the present with a teenaged Hope, Cable appeared to have made a Heroic Sacrifice at the end of the Second Coming X-Men event but has since returned. His powers have fluctuated as well, regaining and losing both his techno-organic symbiote and his mutant powers.


Also has the notorious reputation as a Game-Breaker in Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes. He's also a playable recruit in Marvel: Avengers Alliance.

Cable originally got his first ongoing solo series in 1993, which lasted 108 issues before it was relaunched in 2002 as Soldier X, which lasted for 12 issues. In 2004, Cable then appeared in the Cable & Deadpool series that lasted for 50 issues. In 2008 he received another solo ongoing launched in the aftermath of the Messiah Complex crossover that lasted 24 issues. In 2012, he starred in the Avengers: X-Sanction miniseries that acted as a pseudo lean-in to the Avengers vs. X-Men event. Once that event was completed, he starred in a titled Cable and X-Force for 19 issues before being relaunched as X-Force, with Cable as lead, which lasted 15 issues. He was a member of the the Unity Squad for a few issues, working alongside his old pal Deadpool, before receiving another ongoing in the aftermath of the Inhumans vs. X-Men event that lasted 15 issues, and when that ended, he became a key player in the Extermination event. In the aftermath of that event, a younger version of Cable dubbed "Kid Cable" stars in a new X-Force series that reunites the surviving members of the original X-Force team.

He is portrayed by Josh Brolin in Deadpool 2.

This comic contains examples of:

  • '90s Anti-Hero: Cable is probably the original; if not, he's certainly a major Trope Codifier. However, in a much later subversion by Fabian Nicieza, he will apparently try to leave the territory entirely at times.
  • Antagonistic Offspring:
    • His son, Tyler, aka Genesis, who was kidnapped by Stryfe spent several arcs making his father's life miserable before being killed by Wolverine.
    • Stryfe himself is arguably this to Scott and Jean.
  • Anti-Hero: Usually type a Pragmatic Hero, but introduced as type a Unscrupulous Hero. (Sticking enemy heads on pikes as a warning, etc)
  • Archenemy: Stryfe and Apocalypse. Also Bishop, during the man's "gotta kill Hope" phase.
  • Arch Nemesis Dad: His son Tyler was turned against him by Stryfe.
  • Artificial Limbs: The techno-organic virus has transformed most of the left half of his body into metal.
    • Even after being cured of the techno-organic virus a few times, he usually winds up losing one of his limbs and replacing it with cyber enhancements.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Marvel canon states that Cable is biologically the child of Jean Grey-Summers because his actual mother was her clone, Madelyne Pryor. In fact, Nate Grey (X-Man) is his Age of Apocalypse counterpart, driving home the idea. However, modern science has discredited that possibility. Even if two individuals (such as twins or clones) are genetically parallel, they are not identical, due to the epigenetic markers shaped by the individuals' unique environments. Even a clone that is produced on the spot will not be completely identical to its progenitor, no less producing the same sperm or egg cells which carry its genetic material.
  • Badass Beard: Has sported one on a couple of occasions, but usually sports Perma-Stubble/Perma-Shave.
  • Badass Grandpa: His exact age is hard to pin down due to the amount of time-traveling in his history; he was around 50 in his first appearances as an adult, and must be around (or over) 70 at this point after having raised Hope for 17 years on top of that. Being aged and deaged several times makes it a little complicated. He's still not someone you should mess around with.
  • Bash Brothers: Occasionally with Nate.
  • Big Brother Instinct: has a degree of this towards Nate, who... well, he doesn't like Cable very much, but in a very little brotherly 'get out of my life and leave me alone' sort of way, and he does eventually (if somewhat grudgingly) warm up to Cable. Even before that, they are more than willing to work together when required.
  • Body Horror: While Cable's body was still infected with the TO virus, he could become hideously distorted if it was allowed to run unchecked. At one point in his childhood (as depicted in one issue of The Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix), he looked like something out of The Thing (1982).
  • BFG: One of Cable's trademarks.
  • Byronic Hero: Depending on the Writer. When operating alone Cable has no problem using any means at his disposal to achieve his goals, such as torturing Captain America prior to Av X. But he has a habit of teaming up with morality pets to rein himself.
  • Cain and Abel:
    • Cable and Stryfe.
    • Cable also has an Absalom thing going on with his son Tyler...or at least, he did, until Wolverine killed him.
  • The Chosen One: He's the messianic figure of the Askani
  • Cloning Blues:
    • Stryfe (Cable's clone) and his mother Madelyne Pryor (Jean Grey's clone).
    • In the 2014 X-Force series, Cable has to have a clone bred everyday with uploaded memories due to being exposed to a genetic virus that turns him and his clones into bombs that blow up at the end of every day.
  • Cockroaches Will Rule the Earth: There's a storyline in Earth-80521 with a race of humanoid roaches; the Roach Soldiers, and they have their own president.
  • Comic Book Death: It happens. He's an X-Person after all. In 1993's X-Cutioner's Song him and Stryfe are apparently killed during a climactic battle on the moon, but reappeared again soon after. X-Men vol 2 issue 204 has him supposedly blow himself up to stop the Marauders getting at his database. He popped up again partway through the Messiah CompleX storyline a few months later. And at the end of Second Coming in 2010, he blew up trying to hold a time-portal open. He got better from that one, too. He was also murdered by his younger self during the 2018 Extermination event. Time will tell if, or when he recovers from it.
  • Covers Always Lie: The first issue of the "Newer Mutants" arc featured what seemed to be the cast on the cover, including Cable, X-23, Armor, Doop, Shatterstar, Longshot and the Age of Apocalypse's Blink. Most of these characters are in fact the protagonists... except Blink. Not only is she working for the villains, but it's not even the same Blink — the Blink present in the story is the mainstream Blink, while the Age of Apocalypse Blink is nowhere to be seen, and in fact returned later in a new Exiles series.
  • Cool Old Guy: Cable's role in many comics.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: In Cable's attempt to unite the world against him in a Genghis Gambit, SHIELD and Reed Richards get nervous. So after being effortlessly defeated by Cable, they call in the Silver Surfer to take care of Cable. It... does not end well for Cable. This was a shocking event, given that the Surfer generally does not get involved in Earth's affairs. Nevertheless, part of why he loses is because he didn't prepare for or anticipate the Surfer. Cable still holds his own for awhile while repairing all the destruction their fight causes, and his powers are simultaneously diminishing as he fights the Silver Surfer. He also destroys the Surfer's indestructible board.
  • Darker and Edgier: Cable's initial appearances, before his complicated character development/retcons.
  • During the War: A lot of Cable's backstory comes from his conflicts in the future against Apocalypse and the New Caananites.
  • Evil Twin: His clone Stryfe.
  • Fights Like a Normal: He has powers (very strong ones) but they're largely ignored in favor of his really big guns and master hand to hand combat skills.
  • Future Badass: He was born "in the present" - roughly five or six years ago in Comic-Book Time - and sent to the future to save his life, then growing up to become a warrior and freedom fighter.
  • Future Me Scares Me: In Ultimate X-Men, a different version of Cable is revealed to be Wolverine from the future, sans an arm. (Which Apocalypse tore off and used to fillet his face.).
  • Genius Bruiser: He's a huge, intimidating man and a highly experienced, very dangerous warrior and soldier whom some accounts describe as having an intellect rivaling Reed Richards. He also apparently has a law degree. When he reveals this, he makes an offhand comment about finding the New York bar exam laughably easy.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: Well, one eye, anyway. A vestigal holdover due to being the son of Cyclops.
  • Good Is Not Nice
  • Guile Hero: Pulled off some messed up actions sometimes balanced by his Omniscient Morality License from being a time-traveller, to make sure the world doesn't lead to the future he grew up in. Such as turning everyone pink to eliminate racism and changing them back, showing Knight Templar tendencies and playing up his role as a messianic figure when his powers were boosted to get the world's leaders to unite against a common enemy: himself. And later reviving his arch-enemy Apocalypse for the same reason when the mutant race threatened with extinction, in the aftermath of the Decimation Wave.
  • Ham and Deadpan Duo: is often paired with Deadpool in teamups.
  • Harmful to Minors: Poor Hope lives in constant danger of this.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Deadpool. They are extremely close despite Deadpool's personality being obnoxious even at the best of times, and Deadpool was the first person Cable pictured/made psychic contact with while trying to decide whether to blow himself up. They were genetically commingled, so that "one phone call" would have happened even without intent... and Cable needed to make that contact to manipulate Deadpool into doing the right thing. The two even have a secret pact that no one else has be clued in on that says they need to protect each other's loved ones if the other dies by destroying the deceased's safe houses.
  • Hypothetical Casting: Watching Avatar made Rob Liefeld wish on Twitter that Stephen Lang (Col. Quaritch) would play Cable in the X-Men Film Series. Some of Cable's fans, and even Lang himself, wish the same.
  • Informed Ability: In his early years, his telekinesis was so weak that he could only use it to move really small objectsnote . Later RetConned that he was the most powerful non-Phoenix telepath/telekinetic on Earth (as routinely demonstrated by his counterpart, Nate Grey), but 99.9999999999% of his power was committed to holding back his techno-organic infection. Rachel Summers even states that he has the power to extinguish a star with barely a conscious effort.
  • It's Personal: Apocalypse and Stryfe have more or less killed everyone that Cable has ever loved. Mister Sinister also applies, due to his machinations and role in Cable's origin story.
  • Knight of Cerebus: His first appearance in New Mutants marked the beginning of the Dark Age.
  • Knight Templar: Cable continually verges on this.
  • Lighter and Softer: Over time, he became this thanks to a burgeoning sense of heroism, and the revelation of his origin and family.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Cable's not only huge, he's capable of reacting and moving at higher than normal speed, although it's not really Super Speed in the traditional sense.
  • Love Interest: A couple of his most important relationships are with Domino and Irene Merryweather.
  • Mechanical Muscles: His mechanical arm is extremely jacked, just like the rest of him.
  • Manly Tears: Despite Cable's hard, cold exterior most of the time, he has shed a few of them over the years. Examples include over the death of his wife Aliya in the first issue of his series, the first time he went back in time when he is found and taken by Moira Mactaggert to Muir Island and remembers his traumatic past, when he is transported forward in time and meets his younger wife when she was alive but is forced to let her go, when his mentor and friend Prosh is forced to leave Earth to save Nathan from the Techno Organic Virus, when he witnesses his parents wedding and in a Storm mini series when he believes that Ororo is dead.
  • Messianic Archetype: Cable is always like this but totally embraces this role in Cable and Deadpool.
  • Morality Pet: Hope; Sam Guthrie (Cannonball); Deadpool (!!).
    • Cable and Deadpool seem to function as Morality Pets for each other.
      • It could be read as Cable teaching Deadpool about morals and the like, but having to constantly change his own actions so he doesn't end up saying "Do as I say, not as I do."
    • Also Nate Grey, essentially his alternate counterpart, who Cable went to a great deal of effort to try and protect on the grounds that he saw him as having the chance to be his own man that Cable himself never did. Unfortunately, even being in each other's presence was painful for both of them, and Nate wasn't exactly the most trusting individual, having already been subject to multiple attempts to manipulate and control him from all sides by the time they met, and having also inherited his mother's Hair-Trigger Temper.
  • Odd Friendship: Part of the fun of Cable and Deadpool was the acknowledgement that the two had nothing in common and probably should be mortal enemies.
  • Papa Wolf: Cable is very protective of the new mutant child Hope, raising her as his daughter.
    • Takes a similar attitude towards Nate who is... less than receptive.
  • Plot-Relevant Age-Up: Sent to the future as an infant - Returned a few decades older than his parents, before the point he was abducted.
  • Power Limiter: It's stated that Cable's inherent telepathic and telekinetic powers are almost off the charts, but he can very rarely use them to their fullest extent because the techno-organic virus that makes him a cyborg could completely consume him if he wasn't constantly, actively suppressing it. When he broke free of that, he could use his powers to their maximum... and promptly burned them out with overuse.
    • Interestingly enough, he has two sets of powers and they both act as Power Limiters to each other. His techno-organic virus has been compared to the virus that created the Phalanx, a Hive Mind behind a Crisis Crossover. Phalanx members and a few rare Phlebotinum Rebels have shapeshifting powers and technopathy, and both abilities can be seen in Cable in minor ways: whenever his psychic powers are overtaxed his metal body parts physically grow and start to take over the rest, and he can physically interface with machines. If the virus ever really consumed Cable, his Phalanx-like abilities would be used to their fullest... but presumably he would be patient zero for a serious threat.
      • The result of Cable becoming the virus was actually shown in an AU that Deadpool hopped into while he was looking for Cable - it's where the infamous "tentacle scene" comes from.
    • Nate Grey a.k.a. X-Man is the ultimate example of what Cable is capable of without the virus — he's "the ultimate telepath and telekinetic", "the most powerful psychic in any reality" and comparable to Dark Phoenix even at the age of 17. And this last was said when he was only approaching his full power. By the time he got a full handle on his powers, he was capable of resurrecting himself at will, treating the multiverse as his personal stepladder, stepping outside of time, and being compared by Norman Osborn to Dark Reign era Sentry in terms of raw power (with whom, incidentally, he might have previously taken on Galactus. While Nate could have been lying, his dialogue suggests that he was telling the truth). A possible future showed a fight between Nate and Stryfe. It wiped out half the planet.
  • Psychic Powers: He's both a telepath and a telekinetic. His power levels varies according to the needs of the plot, usually involving his techno-organic virus.
  • Red Herring: At the start of X-Force, false hints were dropped that Cable and his arch-enemy Stryfe might be the same person (they use a bunch of the same catchphrases, and Stryfe removes his helmet for the first time showing readers that he has the same face as Cable), playing X-Force and the MLF against each other for some reason.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: The main theme of the David Tischman run was averting this trope, with Cable using his godlike powers to solve real-world problems like terrorism and ethnic conflicts (albeit with decidedly comic-booky twists like super-plagues and clones).
  • Remember the New Guy?: Cable was introduced in 1990, but once he was introduced he was treated as though he had been around and known for a long time. Justified mostly by Time Travel.
  • Rugged Scar: Has a scar (or several, Depending on the Artist) over his right eye. It serves to show that he's a Future Badass from a Bad Future, although his early appearances played up the gruff aspects of his character as well.
  • Signature Scent: According to Sabretooth, he smells of gunpowder and Old Spice.
  • Sociopathic Hero: In his original portrayal. Louise Simonson made a personal statement that this was to introduce a "constructive" youth role model teacher counter to Xavier's "whiny" idealism. He was later clarified as trying to prevent the engineering of an apocalyptic warzone... Then Nicieza turned him into a more moral character instead, and nowadays he seems like a much tamer "general non-bloodcrazed soldier" version of the original.
  • Status Quo Is God: No matter what changes are made to Cable, be it killing his archenemy, getting a new power, curing himself of the techno-organic virus, getting weapons other than guns, etc. He always comes back to being a white haired, time tossed soldier with the BFG and metal arm.
  • Tangled Family Tree: Cable is a member of the Summers/Grey family, and contributes a lot to the complexity of said family tree. His biological parents are Scott Summers and Madelyne Pryor (a perfect clone of Jean Grey who contained part of the Phoenix Force), he grew up in the future, was raised by Scott and Jean inhabiting the bodies of people from that period as arranged by his sister from a different future timeline, returned to the present before he was born (or maybe slightly after, and then went back even further), and, as of 2011, he seems to have acted as adoptive parent to the reincarnation of Jean Grey (in another future timeline). He's not His Own Grandfather, but he might as well be.
  • Technopath: he was this for a little while, when the techno-organic virus got stronger.
  • Tele-Frag: A problem that Cable has occasionally suffered from.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: He's older than his father, mother and big sister, all thanks to time travel.
  • Uncanny Family Resemblance: one alternate reality comic set in the future shows that Nate Grey will grow up to look exactly like Cable, to the point where an elderly Sunfire mistakes the two. Conversely, a de-aged Cable in Cable & Deadpool looks exactly like X-Man, Skunk Stripe and all.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Back when he was just little Nate Summers. It's been a long time since then.
  • Walking the Earth: Cable does this whenever the pressures of being a time traveling demigod get to him.