Now that the X-Men franchise is branching out, trying new things, and getting involved in television, much has been made about the continuity of this shared universe. At first, the X-Men movie franchise seemed to throw caution to the wind when it came to maintaining a cohesive continuity between their films, but that was before the franchise “reset” everything – using the events of X-Men: Days of Future Past to help make sense of the timelines.
Even so, the timeline is far from perfect, and the X-Men movies since Days of Future Past have either introduced additional errors or making next to no attempt to maintain continuity. Deadpool, for example, shows Xavier’s School For Gifted Youngsters and references Wolverine and Professor Xavier, but Colossus is different from his previous depictions. Deadpool himself even makes a timeline joke, saying at one point “McAvoy or Stewart? These timelines can get so confusing.”
Nonetheless, the Deadpool movie was a great success. Sometimes creativity can become a slave of continuity, and that can be an easy way to kill a franchise. The X-Men cinematic franchise certainly isn’t without its share of stinkers, but some of its greatest success can be blamed on throwing continuity out the window.
One of the best jokes in Deadpool addresses how confusing the X-Men movie timeline is. In Deadpool 2, will you continue to be able to ignore that timeline?
Paul Wernick:“What’s nice is Deadpool exists in his own universe. He’s part of the larger X-Men universe, but in a way he isn’t. He interacts with that world but he is in the present. We don’t deal with the ’60s or the ’70s or the future. It’s here and now. More than anything, I think he’s going to have his fun with what they do in the other franchise. But fortunately, we don’t have to play by those same rules. Deadpool is a movie that did break all the rules. And I think we’re going to continue to break those rules. That involves knowing that he’s in a movie, talking to the audience, breaking that fourth wall, a characteristic that they established so brilliantly in the comics way back when. So yeah, I do think that timelines are something that we can make fun of and don’t have to be slave to.”
Coincidentally, this is very similar to the sentiment of Hugh Jackman, who praised the upcoming Logan‘s unique tone and setting by saying “it’s a slightly different universe.” Of course, he didn’t mean “different universe” in terms of continuity, as director James Mangold later had to clarify that Logan does exist in the larger X-Men continuity. Nevertheless, the film is purposefully set in a time and place that allows Mangold to tell his own Wolverine story instead of being forced to make it line up with other X-Men films.
If Logan pays off in the same way Deadpool did, 20th Century Fox might further embrace that approach; allowing new X-Men films to only loosely fit into continuity, so that the writers and directors behind them can feel the freedom to produce the best possible movie – instead of just the best movie they were allowed to make.