Remember X-Men Origins: Wolverine? What a disaster.
The first solo character spinoff of the lucrative X-Men film trilogy threw Hugh Jackman’s beloved Wolverine even more front and center than he already was and forced in a pair of fan-favorite Marvel Comics characters in supporting roles. Those two characters were Deadpool and Gambit, and both were nearly ruined. Thankfully, time heals all wounds.
If the reviews weren’t bad enough for Origins (it’s the worst reviewed installment in the franchise), it almost killed the brand too. Wolverine ended up getting another chance with James Mangold’s The Wolverine, completely ignoring its predecessor, and the core X-Men series avoided any connections to the spinoff as well when it quasi-rebooted with Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class. But the series is still going and Wade Wilson a.k.a. Deadpool a.k.a. the Merc with a Mouth is back with Ryan Reynolds playing him (again). How is that possible?
Time-Travel, The Ultimate Plot Fixer
Fans can be as thankful as original X-Men director Bryan Singer that the creative and producer team of Matthew Vaughn, Simon Kinberg, and Lauren Shuler Donner pitched the idea to finally bring in time-travel to the X-Men movie universe with the sequel to First Class. Time-travel is commonplace in the X-Men comics but in Hollywood, it’s surprisingly not been explored in the big comic book cinematic universes. That is, until 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past.
X-Men: Days of Future Past sees mutant freedom fighters in a dystopian future send Wolverine back in time to the ’70s to alter the course of history and change the future, to a better “happy ending.” This version of the ’70s was already different than continuity explored in the original X-Men trilogy and its spinoffs, and now it’s far more different thanks to the X-Men saving the day in 1973. If that’s confusing, don’t worry. It’s practically meant to be in an effort to emphasize the point that every X-Men movie can exist in the same continuity by explaining plot holes and differences away with the concept of alternate timelines.
As we explored previously in an article about our visit last summer to the set of X-Men: Apocalypse, Bryan Singer has found a way to do anything he wants with future X-Men movies. Essentially, the franchise can be rebooted infinitely, but still be considered canon. But for now, the plan in place is for a singular continuity going forward that takes place in the reset world after the 1973 events of X-Men: Days of Future Past. This universe, where Magneto dropped a stadium around the White House, where mutants are well-known, and where Apocalypse will lay waste to parts of the world a decade later, is the same universe where Deadpool, Gambit, and Wolverine 3 take place later in the timeline. Here’s Simon Kinberg’s explanation:
“[X-Men: Apocalypse] takes space chronologically before those other films, so it’s more like those films have to acknowledge this than we acknowledge Gambit, Deadpool, or Fantastic Four or anything else that exists within the sort of Fox/Marvel universe. But I work on all of those films in one capacity or another, either as a producer on all of them and as a writer on Fantastic Four and this movie, so I’m certainly aware of all the different stories we’re telling at the same time, and they all are part of a larger fabric now, and so the world of Deadpool, the world of Gambit exists in a post-Days of Future Past post-Apocalypse world where all of these stories are the same as our shared history. The same way that each of us of different ages knows about Nixon and knows about Reagan and knows about 9/11, our fictitious events like the stadium dropping on the White House in 1973 is part of the world in which Gambit, Deadpool, Wolverine on forward exists.”
Bryan Singer adds, “I rebooted the universe so now anything can happen,” with the caveat that their theory of time-travel and alternate universes revolve around immutability, in that things may differ, but key events in every timeline will remain mostly similar. Xavier will always form the X-Men, Wolverine will always enlist in Weapon X and get his adamantium claws, and Wade Wilson will always become a version of Deadpool.
Thankfully, this new timeline – or alternate reality which is now the reality of the films – features a Deadpool we can embrace and one that’s similar to the comics. The early days of each depiction of character aren’t so different though. In both X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Deadpool, Wade Wilson is a Mercenary with many confirmed kills who loves to annoy allies as much as he does enemies, although in the former, he’s already a mutant who’s fast enough to deflect bullets with swords. Deadpool’s Wade Wilson however, starts out like he does in the comics, as a human who’s dying of cancer an enters a Weapon X off-shoot program to get mutant powers to save his life, but it leaves him permanently scarred.
The origin story of Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine can be forgotten, just as it can be for Gambit who’s also getting a reboot (production begins next month) that’ll similarly aim to properly adapt the character from the books (yes, with a Cajun accent this time too!) although he’ll be played by a different actor in Channing Tatum. And since Hugh Jackman’s on his way out, the franchise will eventually have to recast Wolverine as well – and that almost happened in the original plan for X-Men: Days of Future Past.
But because Reynolds, director Tim Miller, and writer Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, were all allowed to embrace the comics this time around, that means this Deadpool can break the fourth wall. Once he becomes Deadpool, Wade Wilson knows he’s a comic character played by Ryan Reynolds in a movie. He knows Professor X is played by James McAvoy and Patrick Stewart and that there are confusing timelines, and yes, he also knows the first time he played the character it looked something like this…
Mouth sewn shut, mostly normal skin, laser eyes, wrist blades and natural teleportation… The only thing X-Men Origins: Wolverine got right was the casting of Ryan Reynolds. But that timeline can be considered dead, or at least, it’s a timeline that no more films will be set in.
That being said, things can change again. And they might depending on shifting plans for the franchise (i.e. Fantastic Four 2 is now dead and Hugh Jackman is retiring after Wolverine 3). Deadpool is confirmed to have a sequel already in the works from the same creative team and it’s official that it’ll include Cable, a time-travelling mutant soldier from the future. So, if Deadpool 2 is really Cable & Deadpool, (p.s. called it!) it’s possible we can see more shifts in the timeline.
Stick around for more Deadpool content, including a comparison of his mutant powers and origin stories between the comics and films.
Deadpool is now in theaters; X-Men: Apocalypse opens on May 27, 2016; Gambit sometime in 2017; Wolverine 3 on March 3, 2017; and an unannounced X-Men film on July 13, 2018. The New Mutants and Deadpool 2 are also in development.
Based upon Marvel Comics’ most unconventional anti-hero, DEADPOOL tells the origin story of former Special Forces operative turned mercenary Wade Wilson, who after being subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers, adopts the alter ego Deadpool. Armed with his new abilities and a dark, twisted sense of humor, Deadpool hunts down the man who nearly destroyed his life.
The film is directed by Tim Miller, from a script by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. Ryan Reynolds stars, along with Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, T.J. Miller, Yorick Van Wageningen, Gina Carano and Brianna Hildebrand. Producers include Simon Kinberg, Reynolds and Lauren Shuler Donner.