FOX’s currently untitled X-Men series has built a pretty impressive cast and they haven’t even started shooting the pilot yet. The characters are a mix of comics-based mutants such as Polaris (Emma Dumont) and Blink (Jamie Chung) as well as original characters like Eclipse (Sean Teale) and the Stewart family (Stephen Moyer, Amy Acker, Natalie Alyn Lind), who link up with an underground mutant resistance led by a Native American mutant (Blair Redford) who has been referred to as “Sam”. Many fans suspected this was simply a codename and that the character would eventually be revealed as one from the comics. Last week, it was confirmed via Twitter that Redford’s character is in fact Thunderbird. There are a couple of things that make this revelation interesting, first and foremost being that there have been three mutants who have used this codename in the comics, one is dead and the other is Indian, not Native American.
The first Thunderbird was John Proudstar, an Apache United States Marine Corps Vietnam vet with superhuman senses, strength, speed, stamina, and sturdiness who was recruited by Professor Charles Xavier to form a new team of X-Men to rescue the original group who were being held by Krakoa, a mutant who is also a living island. John was very quick-tempered and self-absorbed, putting him at odds with team leader Cyclops. During the new team’s second mission combating aristocratic crime lord and supervillain Count Nefaria in Colorado, John leapt onto the villain’s jet plane and began pounding on it to prevent him from escaping, disregarding Professor X’s orders to leap to safety. The concussive force from his fists caused the plane to explode, killing John (although Nefaria managed to survive).
John’s younger brother James (who possesses a similar powerset, albeit at a higher concentration) blamed Professor X for his death and, taking his codename, joined the Hellions; students of Emma Frost and the Hellfire Club’s Massachusetts Academy, who were also rivals of the New Mutants, for revenge. He eventually came to learn that Xavier was not to blame for his brother’s death and chose to leave the Hellions and return home to his Apache reservation at Camp Verde, Arizona, also turning down two invitations to join the New Mutants from Xavier and Cable. Upon returning to Arizona, he discovered that his entire tribe had been murdered by the Hellions in retribution for him leaving. James decided to join the New Mutants to gain revenge on them, changing his codename to Warpath. His tenure with the good guys lasted much longer than his brother’s, with him graduating to the X-Men and eventually also serving on Cyclops’ covert wetworks X-Force team.
The third Thunderbird is Neal Shaara, a pyrokinetic mutant from Calcutta, born into a wealthy family. His brother Sanjit is kidnapped by the villain Bastion and turned into a Prime Sentinel, humans transformed into Sentinels and set up as ‘sleeper’ agents, unaware of their programming until activated by a close proximity to a mutant. Neal and his girlfriend, police detective Karima Shapandar, go searching for him, both also ending up captured by Bastion who attempts to convert the both of them into additional Prime Sentinels. While the process is successful with Karima, it actually activated Neal’s mutant powers; which in turn activated Karima’s programming. Sanjit managed to fight his Sentinel programming and sacrificed himself to hold off Bastion’s other converts, while Karima managed to hold back long enough to allow Neal to escape.
Warpath has appeared in the future segments of X-Men: Days of Future Past, portrayed by Booboo Stewart (The Twilight Saga: Eclipse,The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn), but since that timeline was rendered moot due to Wolverine’s mucking with the space-time continuum, Blair Redford could be playing a new timeline version of the character, rather than one of the other iterations of him. This is seemingly backed up by Blink’s inclusion in the series, as she too was in X-Men: Days of Future Past, played by Bingbing Fan (Skiptrace, Bodyguards & Assassins). The fact that Bryan Singer is directing is the trifecta in that equation.
Shooting on the untitled X-Men pilot is scheduled to commence within the next month or two.