The Neglected Nemeses: Black Tom Cassidy

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406px-BlacktomcassidyIn this installment of The Neglected Nemeses,  we are headed back tot he Marvel Universe and the X-Men mythos, with a villain that is often over-looked as a substantial bad guy. The X-Men film franchise has been the topic of many debates, mostly due to its timeline and the use of random characters, rather than following those of the comic book world, but that is another discussion. On the villainous side of things, we have seen quite a bit of Magneto, which is fine, as he is the primary foe of the mutant team. But we have also seen the likes of William Stryker, The Phoenix and to a lesser extent, Sabretooth and many other members of The Brotherhood. One of the issues that some have with the popular film franchise is the lack of unique villains, especially since we know that there are so many to choose from. That is why I’ve chosen to highlight “Black Tom” Cassidy.
 
Before I get into why, let me start with a who’ a look back at where this Irish rogue came from. Tom Cassidy (born Thomas Samuel Eamon Cassidy) was born in Dublin, Ireland and was the heir to a large family fortune, including Cassidy Keep, a large castle-like estate in Ireland. Tom literally gambled that fortune away, with the throw of the dice, to his cousin and rival Sean Cassidy, better known as Banshee. The two often competed in life, for many things including the love of Maeve Rourke, who ultimately chose to marry Sean. After falling into a life of crime, Tom took on the moniker of Black Tom and spent time in a third world country jail where he came upon a fellow mercenary in Marko Cain.When Sean joined tom_cassidyInterpol, he was sent on a top secret mission, leaving a now pregnant Maeve on here own. After she had given birth to Theresa, the two were caught in a bombing, in which Maeve was killed. Black Tom secretly rescued Theresa and raised her as his own. When Sean returned, he blamed Tom for the death of Maeve and unleashed his mutant powers on Tom, causing him to break his leg.

Tom has associated himself with the likes of Juggernaut, Eric the Red and Arcade, as well as spending time in the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Outside of the X-Men, he has taken on the likes of Spider Woman, Spider-Man, Excalibur and Deadpool.

Initially, Tom’s powers consisted of him being able to generate concussive blasts of force or heat by using wood as the source or focus of his power, generally a wooden shillelagh. From Marvel:

Following genetic engineering, Cassidy could channel the energy he generated directly through the parts of his body that were grafted to a wood-like substance. Since his transformation into a plant-like being, Cassidy can grow to immense size, thus gaining superhuman strength, and can regenerate damaged or destroyed body parts with great speed. He can also mentally control all plant life within his vicinity, and can distribute his consciousness amongst plants he controls. Cassidy can drain the life force of organic beings.

With so many other X-villains to choose from, why Black Tom? As silly as it sounds, he is one of a few villains that could add a real world touch to the films. I know that sounds weird when talking about a world of mutants and super powers, but you have to keep in mind that things still have to remain believable and grounded, at least in the current film universe. Cassidy could fall into place quite easily, without having to add in too much additional information.

Not to mention, now that we have Banshee in the mix (I know, he shouldn’t have been involved in First Class, but work with me here), it would be a great addition to the story. JFAdd in the fact that we have already seen Syrin involved and it actually makes sense with her being involved in the first X-Men films, it would be easy to tie everything together. We know the general direction of the First Class sequel now and this it will utilize the Days of Future Past story, as well as the rumored Age of Apocolypse story, so it is unlikely that we will see Tom this go round, but I’m sure that we will have future X-Men films, so there is still room to bring Cassidy in to the mix.

Now, there have been many suggestions and ideas as to who should play this role, anyone from Josh Brolin to Sam Rockwell to Timothy Dalton, all of which are great choices. I had a hard time choosing an actor, but it came down to the fact that this actor has been a favorite of mine for years. He has played roles in variety of films including Clue, Congo and The Shadow. Tim Curry has proven time and again that he is a capable and fantastic actor and I would love to see him in a villainous role like this. Having said that…Tim is a tad old for the role now days, which is too bad.

So, I jumped ship on that idea and land on the boat of Joseph Fiennes. Anyone who argues that Fiennes is not a capable and amazing actor, needs to be tarred and feathered. Often over-shadowed by his brother Ralph, Joseph has had some great roles in a variety of films including Shakespeare in Love, Elizabeth and one of my all time favorites Enemy at the Gates. He’s a bit more eclectic than his brother but just as good and just as entertaining to watch.

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