Meet the leader of The New Mutants, Samuel ‘Cannonball’ Guthrie
If you’ve been around the X-Men cartoons (and have a great memory) then Samuel Zachary Guthrie, also known as Cannonball, probably looks a little familiar. He showed up in X-Men: The Animated Series in two unrelated appearances and was a semi-regular character in X-Men: Evolution. Despite the name of the comic book he debuted in (The New Mutants), Cannonball has been around for quite some time. Alongside the rest of his teammates, Sam was created by Chris Claremont and Bob McLeod in 1982. For years, he shared the leadership role with his teammate, Danni Moonstar. Out of all the New Mutants slated to appear in the upcoming movie of the same name, I’m most interested in seeing how they pull Sam off. His powers are not exactly indoors friendly. With the movie mostly taking place inside of an asylum, goodness knows how he’s going to use them! Here are a few morsels about the country boy to get you acquainted!
Sam’s codename, Cannonball, is one of the most on-the-nose monikers in all of comics! His mutant ability to generate an explosive thermo-chemical reaction transforms his body into a living projectile. To give you an idea of what that looks like; liken the process and his speed to that of an ICB missile. However, instead of exploding on impact, Sam can quite possibly smash through just about anything! As Cannonball travels through the air, his powers produce a barrier in front of and around his body. The barrier displaces incoming kinetic energy which basically makes it, and subsequently him, nearly impenetrable. It’s so strong, in fact, Sam was once able to go toe-to-toe with the Shi’ar Empire’s Gladiator! If you’re not familiar with Gladiator’s level of strength, take this into account; Gladiator has traded blows with Thor (with his hammer) and the Hulk!
Sam can also extend this field around allies for protection, or foes to imprison them. With practice, he’s acquired the skill to project his thermo-chemical blasts in more than just one direction. This means Sam can project the force that propels him forward from multiple points of his body! Matter of fact, his powers are what inspired Negasonic Teenage Warhead’s reimagined abilities in the first Deadpool movie! A role that almost went to Cannonball.
From time to time, long-running franchises borrow from others. Sometimes it’s subtle. Other times… not so much. Such is the case with Marvel Comic’s concept of the Externals. They are a group of mutants that have unnaturally long lifespans, some born even before the birth of Christ. If not relieved of their heads or something as equally grievous, these ancient mutants will presumably go onto live, indefinitely. Starting to see the source of inspiration here? Some suspected members of this sub-species of homo-superior are Apocalypse, Selene, Gideon, and Candra, among others. I assume immortality goes hand in hand with villainy because these also happen to be some of the X-Men’s most dangerous foes!
And it’s quite possible Cannonball has this ability too. After taking several gunshots to the chest, Cannonball, in a matter of hours… just got better. Cable, the mutant time-traveler, and the leader of the X-Force team Sam was serving under, made the assertion as a witness. While it hasn’t been proven beyond a doubt, no other explanation has been offered. Cue the Queen Highlander theme!
Everyone loves Sam
Outside of being one of the more experienced young X-Men, Sam is also among the most well-liked in the franchise. His warm and friendly demeanor is in stark contrast to his audacious and explosive powers. While he’s a natural leader, having studied under Professor Xavier, Magneto, and Cable, Sam is best known for his manners and loyalty. He’s also popular with his female teammates. He’s been in romantic relationships with Wolfsbane, Moonstar, Meltdown, and most recently, his fellow Avenger, Smasher… which brings us to our next point!
The Family Man
Although Cannonball is traditionally of X-Men lineage (New Mutants, X-Force, and X-Men), he eventually became an Avenger alongside his teammate Sunspot. During his tenure with the World’s Mightiest Heroes, he met and began courting teammate, Isabel Kane, the new Smasher of the Shi’ar Empire’s Imperial Guard (the first human member). Following the 8-month time jump after the events Time Runs Out and Secret Wars, it’s discovered that Sam and Isabel are living on an alien world in the Shi’ar Empire and have a son, Josiah.
Eldest of the Guthrie Clan
Cannonball comes from a very large family. And not just that, nearly half of his siblings have turned out to be mutants! This makes the Guthrie family one of the most X-Gene prevalent gene pools on earth! Sam is the eldest of 9 children, not including a foster-brother, Ray! His siblings include; Paige, Melody, Elizabeth, Jay, Lewis, Jebediah, Joelle, and Cissie. And there still might be one or more that have yet to be featured! Paige is likely the most recognizable due to her stint in Generation-X as Husk, a mutant that can transmute her body into any substance she chooses. Melody and Jay both eventually joined the Xavier Institute as students, however, Melody (Aero) lost her ability to fly during M-day, and Jay (Icarus) who had wings and powers like those of Angel (Warren Worthington), was murdered by William Stryker and possibly the Sentinel of the future, Nimrod. Jebediah, like Melody, also lost his powers on M-Day, while Elizabeth, in an alternate reality, displayed the ability to alter her size and mass. The sheer amount of mutant activity has made their family targets for the mutant-hating group, The Purifiers.
In the pantheon of Chris Claremont’s New Mutants, Sam is probably the most unlikely member to be involved in a horror movie, but it’s not the first time our Hayseed will face off against darkness! How do you think he and his friends will fare against the malevolent Demon Bear in the The New Mutants movie?