With Josh Brolin now set to play Cable in Deadpool 2 in addition to portraying Thanos in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Avengers: Infinity War, the upcoming Deadpool sequel will perhaps inevitably include some sort of reference to the actor’s other superhero roles. While a number of film studios have been building up their cinematic superhero universes in recent years, 20th Century Fox’s X-Men franchise has been around in one form or another since Bryan Singer’s 2000 same-named film. Although the franchise spans an initial trilogy, a set of spinoffs following Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, and a prequel series, the studio’s most successful X-Men entry is 2016’s Deadpool.
After languishing in development for over a decade, the movie finally received a green light from Fox after test footage leaked online in the summer of 2014 (on the final day of that year’s Comic-Con International in San Diego, no less). The film – which had a script from Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, Tim Miller attached to direct, Ryan Reynolds set to star – moved ahead quickly before its February 2016 debut. Deadpool hit theaters to rave reviews from both critics and fans alike, and broke a number of box office records, eventually earning $783 million in its theatrical run.
Although the action set pieces of Deadpool helped propel the film to its level of success, fans would no doubt argue it was the movie’s faithful adaptation of Wade Wilson’s irreverent humor – a mix of raunchy banter and comic in-jokes unlike any other superhero – that set the X-Men franchise installment well apart from other comic book movies. Deadpool featured a number of references not only to other X-Men franchise films, but comic book movies in separate cinematic universes – including a few jokes at the expense of Warner Bros./DC’s Green Lantern, in which Reynolds also starred.
Now, with Brolin set to play major characters in two massive superhero movies, it’s a natural fit for Deadpool 2 to reference his work as the MCU’s Thanos. Certainly, it seemed nothing was off the table in terms of jokes when it came to the script for Deadpool. In addition to jokes at the expense of other superhero movies, Deadpool’s opening credits montage even poked good-natured fun at those closest to the film, including its stars, creative team, and the Fox studio executives that failed to green light the R-rated comedy sooner. Given this trend established in the Merc with the Mouth’s first standalone movie, it would be a missed opportunity for the sequel not to include a dig at Brolin’s work as The Avengers‘ villain.
Of course, then the question becomes how Deadpool 2 should include a nod to the Cable actor’s comic book character double duty. It’s possible the film could give a line to Brolin-as-Cable about working overtime, or making some other thinly veiled reference to the actor jumping from Avengers: Infinity War to Deadpool 2. But, considering Cable is a more stoic and serious character than Wade Wilson – the straight man of this particular dynamic duo – it’s more likely Deadpool himself would deliver any punch line with Brolin’s Thanos as the butt of the joke.
Whether it’s included as a one-liner, perhaps when Wade first runs across Nathan Summers, or a running gag throughout the sequel – or even used for the post-credits stinger – it would no doubt be appreciated by superhero comic and movie fans. Actors and actresses playing more than one superhero isn’t necessarily a new trend in Hollywood, but the irreverent and meta humor of Wade Wilson gives Deadpool 2 the unique opportunity to directly reference Brolin’s work as both the time-traveling mutant and the Mad Titan. And, if the sequel is so obliged, they could also bring up the actor’s headlining role in Warner Bros’ Jonah Hex movie.
All that being said, one reason Deadpool 2 may not include any nods to Brolin’s other superhero roles is that the writers have already completed the script and there’s no room to fit in the joke. Neither Reese nor Wernick have said either way whether the script is done, but since Deadpool 2 is reported to begin production this spring – with David Leitch as the director – it’s likely near the finished stages if it hasn’t been completed already. Of course, the first Deadpool included instances when the actors were allowed to improvise lines in certain scenes, perhaps most famously being T.J. Miller’s character Weasel reacting Wade’s scarred face for the first time. So, Reynolds or one of Deadpool 2’s other stars could potentially add in a reference to Thanos in this way if it’s not included in the script itself.
Additionally, there may be moviegoers who hope Deadpool 2 doesn’t make mention of Brolin’s work as Thanos in the MCU, whether because they believe it would be too confusing or simply in poor taste of joking about a fellow comic book movie. But, Deadpool proved the Merc with the Mouth isn’t above poking fun at fellow comic book movies. And the characters of Cable and Thanos are different enough – especially in looks – that fans likely won’t be too confused (this isn’t like X-Men: Days of Future Past and Avengers: Age of Ultron both including Quicksilver, after all).
Of course, in the case of both Fox and Marvel using the character of Quicksilver in their films, the MCU needed to change the hero’s origin – as well as Wanda Maximoff’s – so that the word “mutant” wasn’t used since Marvel Studios don’t own the rights to Marvel Comics’ mutants, but Fox does. Since Marvel Studios holds the rights to Thanos, Fox would need permission to include the Mad Titan’s name in Deadpool 2. Still, it’s possible they would be able to get permission since Marvel Studios did borrow Ego the Living Planet for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – plus, if it’s for a one-off joke, surely Marvel wouldn’t mind. Even if Fox didn’t get permission to say Thanos’s name, Deadpool 2 could certainly find other, legal ways to reference the Mad Titan (“big purple guy” could mean anyone).
In the end, it isn’t necessary for Deadpool 2 to include a reference to the MCU’s Thanos. The sequel is one of the more highly anticipated films on Fox’s upcoming X-Men franchise slate, and it seems poised to be a worthy follow-up to the studio’s most successful series entry. Many fans are simply excited by the inclusion of both Cable and Domino (Zazie Beetz), so jokes about Brolin’s other comic book character roles would be an added bonus. Still, given Wade Wilson’s sense of humor – which is shared not only by the writers but Reynolds himself – it seems incredibly unlikely Deadpool 2 would pass up the opportunity to poke fun at the MCU’s Mad Titan Thanos.
Even Thanos himself has some thoughts about Brolin joining Deadpool 2 as Cable:
traitor— Thanos (@LonelyThanos) April 12, 2017