Cable’s disabled childhood

As an X-Men character and member of the Summers family Cable has an extensive and convoluted story so I’m only going to cover a small glimpse of his childhood to look at his disability and disability narrative.

Mutants are considered a marginalized race in the Marvel universe and mutation is used as a metaphor for disability; Cable is one of the many mutant characters who are also shown to have real-world disabilities. As a baby he was infected with a “techno-organic virus” by Apocalypse resulting in his iconic appearance. The techno-organic virus is functionally a terminal disease in which cells cannot duplicate or regenerate and even within the superhero world Cable was born into there is no cure. His father, Cyclops, allows him to be taken to the future where there is available treatment in exchange for never seeing his son again.

Cyclops questions whether or not this is the right decision, specifically wondering if Cable would be better off dead. He questions Cable’s quality of life.

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As Cable grows into a teenager he struggles with non-passing privilege and the need to hide his disfigurement and assistive equipment to assimilate and remain safe.

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Aside from suffering culturally and socially Cable deals with tangible disability and chronic pain. He has to manage these things in order to live and his motivation to do so tends to be based on his obligation to others.

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The character Cable deals with disability so directly that his mutation never quite becomes a metaphor. Like all disabled children, his family struggles with what to sacrifice for his medical care, ceding control of his care to those who can offer assistance, making long-term decisions in his stead, and whether or not having a life unlike those they are familiar with means he should have one at all.

As an adolescent, Cable has to live with the decisions his family made for him and struggles with being raised by various people whose only concern is what he is able to do. He is visibly different which puts him in danger in a way that is unfamiliar to most people and hiding his differences takes a physical and emotional toll. Cable has no role models that look like him and has experienced what he has, he has to develop based on a template of humanity that is fundamentally different from his natural state.

One comment

  1. I never paid attention to X-men but always thought it had substance by the way people talk about it. good one Christy!

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