In the world of big-budget Hollywood superhero movies, Fox is in an unusual position as a studio. While the market remains dominated by the nearly decade-spanning success of The Marvel Cinematic Universe and Warner Bros. works to build a potentially equal powerhouse in the DC Extended Universe, Fox controls the rights to the last (popular) Marvel-branded franchise not owned by Disney: The X-Men movies. But while Fox just had a major hit with the self-satirizing Deadpool, the “main series” entry X-Men: Apocalypse earned mixed reviews and weaker-than-anticipated box office.
Now, in a surprising acknowledgment of this new power-dynamic, Deadpool himself has been deployed to poke fun at his fellow Mutants in a new Japanese trailer.
While gentle self-mockery isn’t unheard of in the game of selling superhero blockbusters (Marvel themselves mounted a famously offbeat marketing push for Ant-Man aknowledging the character’s comedic premise and the film’s public production problems), this new angle takes things to an eyebrow-raising level; as Deadpool mercilessly mocks the most recent X-Men movie in order to promote the June 1st (the clip is a few weeks old in its home country) Japanese release of his own film: Though he takes a few gentler shots as the clip goes on, Deadpool opens his volley by explaining that he’s shooting an “after-credits scene” for a trailer instead of the movie because “Not everyone makes it to the end of Fox movies!”
The unexpected results for both films are still causing ripples within Fox’s plans for the series, which many believe is part of the reason why the studio has yet to announce formal plans for how the franchise will continue outside of the currently shooting third and possibly final Wolverine solo feature. Deadpool is far and away the biggest box-office name in the X-Men franchise now, but it remains to be seen whether the novelty of an R-rated skewering of PG-13 superhero tropes can sustain a franchise as opposed to a one-off hit — how long can Deadpool go parodying superhero series without becoming one itself?
Meanwhile, Fox faces questions about how to continue the main X-Men franchise. Those plans include a teen-targeted New Mutants spin-off and an R-rated X-Force adaptation. The long-gestating feature spin-off for X-Men mainstay Gambit is also in the pipeline, though reports differ as to the status of the project and commitment of some key players to seeing it through.
X-Men: Apocalypse is now playing in theaters. Wolverine 3 opens in U.S. theaters on March 3rd, 2017, followed by unannounced X-Men films on October 6th, 2017 (possibly Gambit), January 12th, 2018 (possibly Deadpool 2), and July 13th, 2018 (possible New Mutants). X-Force is also in development.