How PG-13 Deadpool Could Pave The Way To The MCU
Putting ratings aside for a moment, Deadpool and Deadpool 2 aren't actually that far removed in tone from MCU movies. While they may spoof the superhero genre, the Deadpool movies are also fairly typical of that genre. There are heartfelt moments between the jokes, big action setpieces, characters with different powers teaming up, climactic final battles and, of course, superhero landings. The Deadpool movies are even in the same continuity as the main X-Men movies (in a way that doesn't make much sense, but nothing in X-Men continuity makes sense). For comparison's sake, Guardians of the Galaxy had a joke about Star-Lord's ship looking like a "Jackson Pollock painting" under a blacklight, and a scene where Star-Lord instigates a dance-off with the movie's main villain, so raunchy or silly comedy definitely isn't off-limits. The MCU movies even have their own built-in meta-humor in the form of Stan Lee's ongoing cameo roles.
Incorporating Deadpool into the MCU is arguably even easier than incorporating the X-Men, because one of Deadpool's favorite quirks is referencing behind-the-scenes production details. In Deadpool the limited budget was lampshaded by having Wade joke about how the studio couldn't afford any X-Men besides Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead, and when the filmmakers had to find a way to cut the budget by $7 million, they came up with a running joke about Deadpool repeatedly leaving his guns and ammo in the back of Dopinder's cab. If restricting the budget can force creative (and hilarious) solutions, then restricting the movie's rating could have the same effect.
By turning an R-rated Deadpool movie into a PG-13 Deadpool movie, Fox is demonstrating to Disney and Marvel that the character is flexible enough to become part of the MCU - even if that doesn't officially happen until a few years down the line.
Deadpool Isn't Connected To The MCU (Yet)
Marvel likes to push the idea of the MCU being one huge connected universe with a strict continuity, but that's not really the case. There's the core of the MCU, which is made up of almost all of the movies released since 2008, along with the Marvel One-Shots. Then there's an outer circle, on the periphery of canon, where things get a little more fuzzy and continuity clashes emerge. It's in that circle that most of the Marvel TV series now sit - occasionally referencing things that happened in the movies, but letting other things slide (none of the Marvel Netflix shows include Avengers Tower in the New York skyline, and none of the TV shows have acknowledged Thanos' fateful snap).
Just outside of that circle, pressing its nose up against the glass, is Venom. While Sony's spinoff movie about Spider-Man's long-tongued nemesis isn't part of the MCU, there was some early confusion over whether or not it would be, and some of that confusion still remains. Despite threatening to tear off people's limbs and faces and turn them into a "turd in the wind," Venom's movie has a PG-13 rating and - aside from the lack of connective tissue - nothing we've seen so far would disqualify it from being part of MCU continuity. In the wake of Spider-Man: Homecoming's success, many have speculated that Sony is trying to connect Venom to the MCU, if only implicitly, in order to borrow some of Marvel's box office magic.
Even though Disney and Fox's deal is imminent, there are currently no connections - implicit or otherwise - between the X-Men universe and the MCU. The X-Men movies even have their own version of Quicksilver (who was played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson in Avengers: Age of Ultron), and have built up decades of Mutant history that is completely incongruous with the MCU's timeline. Meanwhile, the closest Deadpool has gotten to the MCU is cracking jokes, like referring to Cable as "Thanos" and calling Domino "black Black Widow."
All this is to say that we shouldn't get ahead of ourselves just yet. The Avengers won't be teaming up with the X-Men in Avengers 4, and (sadly) Deadpool isn't going to team up with Peter Parker in Spider-Man: Far From Home. The PG-13 cut of Deadpool 2 isn't itself a gateway to the MCU, but it could be the first stepping stone.
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019