In 2016, Deadpool was the critical and commercial success of the year, setting box office records and earning various awards nominations. As Fox tries to plot a course for the future of the X-Men movie franchise, they stumbled into a goldmine with Wade Wilson. The property’s lower budget makes it immensely profitable, and it has fan enthusiasm in spades. It’s no surprise that the filmmakers are looking towards the future and have big plans in store for the Merc With a Mouth. Of course, Deadpool 2 is coming through the pipeline (with Cable joining the fray), but last year, reports indicated Fox wanted to essentially combine Deadpool 3 with the in-development X-Force film. Things seem to be headed in that direction, and it’s exciting for viewers.
One of the main reasons the first Deadpool was such a rousing success was its tone. Because it embraced the sensibilities of an irreverent action comedy, it felt fresh and unique, helping it stand apart from the current glut of comic book films that hit theaters. The intention is for future installments to maintain the same small scale and feel, and according to writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, that should carry all the way through X-Force.
While speaking with THR, Reese discussed the wide range of superhero movie universes that are currently active, including the Marvel Cinematic Universe and DC Extended Universe. He explained how each one has its own tone, expressing his desire for Fox’s offerings to seize the R-rated corner of the market with films that can be considered “sillier” and “edgier.”
And I think what we stumbled into was a new tone, and I haven’t seen Logan, so it’s tough to say if they have it, but I think we hope to have our own universe that is defined less by characters and timelines and things like that and more by tone. The hope is Deadpool 2 and X-Force and future movies all be this new, consistent, sillier tone. More self-aware tone. And edgier and rated-R tone. We want to be establishing the universe but also focusing on each individual movie and not worrying too much about building a larger threat to the world or a larger plot machination.
Anyone who has seen the marketing materials for Logan know that James Mangold’s film will be anything but silly, but overall, Reese is very much on to something. Between Deadpool and Logan, Fox has generated much excitement with their adult-orientated takes on the source material, giving audiences something different from the many PG-13 tentpoles that come out over the course of the year. An argument can be made that this should be the studio’s niche, especially since it’s something Disney/Marvel and Warner Bros./DC have not explored yet with their theatrical productions. Deadpool and Wolverine are two characters better served by the R rating, giving longtime fans something that’s more faithful to the comics than previous iterations. If Deadpool is to be part of X-Force, the hard R is a necessity.
Reese also mentioned that they are trying to “avoid” the issue of overstuffing Deadpool 2 and other movies with set-up for the larger world; instead, they are focused on making each individual film as strong as it can be so it stands on its own merits and works largely as a standalone. This should be encouraging for many moviegoers, since both Marvel and DC installments have been criticized for getting bogged down in shared universe obligations. For Reese and Wernick at least, the X-Men universe is an expansive canvas to play with, and they’re not primarily concerned with forcing things to follow the same model as everyone else. So far, it’s hard to argue with the results, and the creative team has certainly earned the benefit of the doubt.