Spoilers for Deadpool 2.
The true villain of Deadpool 2 isn't Russell Collins, nor is it the Juggernaut; the real foe is a figure who's working in the shadows, the twisted geneticist known as Mr. Sinister. It's true that viewers won't hear the name "Sinister" in any of the film's dialogue, nor will they see a pale-faced being transform into a strange metallic form and start shooting energy blasts. But his presence is there all the same.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has spent the best part of a decade building up to the threat of Thanos. Now, Fox seem to be setting up their own arc, dropping Easter Eggs in movie after movie, pointing the way to Sinister's big-screen debut. It's hardly a surprise; last year, Simon Kinberg confirmed that the villain would crop up sooner or later. "I think he is one of the great untapped villains in the X-Men universe," Kinberg observed, "and we do have plans to introduce him into the world."
Related: Deadpool 2 Cast & Character Guide
There's one key difference between Fox's build-up to Sinister and Marvel's to Thanos. Marvel has been relatively up-front about it; they teased Thanos as their big bad in 2012, with everything since The Avengers building to Avengers: Infinity War. In contrast, Fox has settled for dropping subtle hints, allowing directors as much room to maneuver as possible. Given the X-Men films are scattered across the timeline(s), it's unlikely many viewers will spot them. But the clues are there all the same, and Deadpool 2 explicitly makes Sinister the main villain.
This Page: The Real Villain of Deadpool 2 is Mr. Sinister
Deadpool 2's Real Villain: Essex House
The real villain of Deadpool 2 is actually a twisted institution, an orphanage called the Essex House for Mutant Rehabilitation. Essex House is staffed by bigots and zealots, men and women who hate mutants with an almost religious passion. Eddie Marson plays the unnamed headmaster, a wrathful man who screams out that mutants are "abominations". Under the headmaster's lead, Essex House has become a place where mutant children are taught to hate themselves and others, where they're subjected to torture and beatings. Occasionally a mutant will lash out under the pressure of it all, and they'll simply be imprisoned as though they've committed an act of terrorism. No doubt every incident is used to reinforce the sense that mutants are dangerous, and the good people of Essex House are taking their lives into their own hands by trying to help ungrateful mutants.
Essex House has clearly been running for some time, given Domino says she grew up there. That means an untold number of mutants have passed through the orphanage over the years. Some, like Domino, will have escaped. Others, like Russell, have become victims of their own pain and rage, lashing out in anger at a world that hates and fears them. Deadpool 2 makes it clear that the orphanage still has a large number of children there; in the finale, Domino tears through the orderlies in front of children who cheer her on.
Related: Deadpool 2 Cast & Character Guide
Essex is Really Mr. Sinister
The name "Essex" will be familiar to any readers of Marvel's X-Men comics. The most famous "Essex" is a man named Nathaniel Essex, a twisted geneticist who delights in experimenting upon mutants. In the comics, Essex hailed from Victorian England. He believed Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution, but went one step further; Essex believed that evolution sometimes happened dramatically, and predicted the rise of mutants. Ironically, those beliefs brought him to the attention of Apocalypse, and he was himself transformed into a powerful, eternal mutant.
Sinister became obsessed with the Summers and Grey bloodlines, particularly the young Scott Summers and Jean Grey. He believed that their progeny would be the most powerful mutant of all time, and sought to control it. To that end, when the young Scott was rendered an orphan, Sinister established an orphanage in which to bring him up. Needless to say, Sinister experimented relentlessly upon young Scott, although he erased the child's memories of this experimentation. When Scott's powers first began to manifest, he began suffering from devastating headaches. It was Sinister who discovered that ruby quartz glasses lessened the pain.
Deadpool 2's "Essex House" is clearly a reference to that scheme. The film even signposts a connection to Sinister in one scene where a member of staff is shot in the head, leaving a crimson bullet-wound in the shape of a diamond on the man's forehead; that diamond is Sinister's trademark insignia, with countless comics having used it to reveal that a character is Sinister in disguise. And while Nathaniel isn't directly linked in this film, there's evidence to suggest he may be ultimately behind it...
- Deadpool 2 (2018) release date: May 18, 2018
- X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019) release date: Jun 07, 2019
- Gambit (2020) release date: Mar 13, 2020
- New Mutants (2020) release date: Apr 03, 2020