File this under "Things I Never Saw Coming." James Franco is joining the X-Men cinematic universe in one of the unlikeliest but most James Franco-y ways imaginable: as Jamie Madrox, the Multiple Man. Fox is reportedly developing a feature film with Wonder Woman writer Allan Heinberg and producer Simon Kinberg (who is the impresario of Fox's Marvel-verse) in which Franco will star as the unstable superhero with incredible cloning powers, according to Deadline. Franco and his company Ramona Films will also act as producers on the project. In addition, my head just exploded.
Created by Len Wein, Chris Claremont, and John Buscema in 1975's Giant Size Fantastic Four #4, Jamie Madrox is a mutant with the power to create identical living duplicates of himself upon physical impact. What makes this power particularly fascinating is that he is empathically linked to all of his duplicates, meaning that if one of them suffers grave injuries, the original Madrox would also incur great pain. Likewise, he is able to absorb the experiences, skills, and memories of his duplicates once he absorbs them back into himself.
This mutation first revealed itself when Madrox was born and the doctor slapped him, creating a second baby in the process. As a child, he was given a specialized suit by X-Men founder Professor Charles Xavier, which neutralized his powers and allowed him to live a relatively normal life. When the suit broke, though, all hell broke loose and Madrox started to descend into madness. Feeling drawn towards New York City, Madrox found himself facing off with the Fantastic Four until Xavier could intervene to help the "Multiple Man" cure his madness and control his powers. While he has always been something of a loner, Madrox has been a seminal part of the extended X-Men family over the years, fighting as part of the government-sponsored X-Factor team, and helping the X-Men with various missions.
While Multiple Man may seem like an unlikely candidate for a standalone movie, it makes sense given the success of FX's Legion, which explored the superhero genre through the lens of heady psychology and mental illness. Seeing Franco play multiple versions of himself on the big screen isn't anything new, but seeing Franco play this character whose powers have slowly pushed him towards the brink of madness is a thrilling prospect for comic book and cinema fans alike. Joining the ranks of Josh Boone's New Mutants and Gore Verbinski's Gambit, this Multiple Man movie could herald a bold new future for Fox's flagship superhero franchise. Fingers crossed we'll get to see this version in the final movie.
What do you think of James Franco as Multiple Man? Would you like to see the rest of X-Factor on the big screen? Let us know in the comments below.
Images: Marvel Comics
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