For anybody who has been paying attention to developments in the superhero world, the writing for the X-franchise is pretty much on the wall at this point. Fox is looking to sell the majority of its entertainment holdings, which notably includes the film rights to both the X-Men and Fantastic Four franchises, to Disney: parent company of Marvel Studios. The move, in effect, would bring all the outstanding elements of the Marvel comic books back into the same film studio, granting a-historic access to all of the comic publisher’s most popular and endearing characters for use on the big and small screens for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Even if that wasn’t the case, and despite protestations to the contrary going up in seemingly every day’s news cycle, Fox’s production of and interest in these movies is significantly winding down: especially compared to the increasing interest in superheroes as a genre, cinematic universes as a concept and Marvel properties in particular. Despite assurances that it may begin production as soon as this summer, the long-promised Gambit solo film has been stuck in developmental Hell for years and, let’s be honest with ourselves here, doesn’t actually look like it will be elsewhere anytime soon. Both New Mutants and X-Men: Dark Phoenix have been hit with multiple rounds of release delays and production difficulties: the former evidently reshooting the majority of the film in seeking a more restrictive MPAA rating and the latter going so far as to drop the X-Men from its title (seemingly doing everything it can to distance itself from the larger X-brand in this second pass at adapting the iconic Dark Phoenix Saga to the big screen after 2006’s disastrous X-Men: The Last Stand).
Even Deadpool, a phenomenal franchise that has rapidly proven to be one of the best things about this flailing “XCU,” has taken steps to seemingly prepare it for the coming regime change. Leading up to the second films release, it was revealed that certain jokes made at Disney’s expense were cut by the studio’s command in an attempt not to draw Disney’s ire (and thus jeopardize the still-pending deal). And, in direct contrast to the first film, which immediately announced plans for a sequel in a post-credit scene, there is no word as to when we will see Deadpool grace the big screen again: no post-credit teaser and no heady announcements trickling down through the grape vine. Fox seems content at the moment to collect their millions now and leave the problem of how to keep this gravy train rolling to the next guy to take charge of the franchise: a smart move overall that leaves all the balls in Marvel’s court for how to proceed from here on out.
To that, there is really only one thing that Marvel has to do with this property going forward. Obviously, they’re going to make a big show of rebooting the X-Men into the MCU the instant that the ink is dry on the sale: same as they did with Spider-Man. We’ll probably see a number of the characters appear in other movies before their franchise debuts a few years later: maybe even a couple in the post-credit scenes of the preceding movies. Maybe we’ll see some of them join up with the A-team in an upcoming Avengers sequel.
But one thing is clear from this side of history: Marvel should leave Deadpool alone.
And really, there isn’t a need to reboot Deadpool. It’s baked into his narrative DNA to break the fourth wall: to understand that he is fictitious and exploit that to his advantage. The first movie joked about the altered timelines that resulted as a result of Days of Future Past and even questioned what actor was playing Xavier in this one.
It’s not like they’re ever going to find an actor better suited to the part, or have as successful a franchise launch as was the case two years ago. All that Marvel has to do is keep the status quo of the franchise, write in some jokes about the buyout and maybe have Deadpool try to join the Avengers at some point. Anything else would sour fan good will and kill a good thing that already makes about as much sense as it would need to in order to have it work in the existing MCU.
If you need to recast a particular part (say, because Marvel wanted to actually make use of Colossus — a different Colossus — in an X-Men team-up), then have him dissolve into Ash because of Thanos and later replace him with a shiny new actor. If you really want a better explanation as to why Deadpool’s all-of-sudden walking around despite the obvious contradictions that he poses to the continuity as it currently stands, that’s no problem either. Just show Rob Liefeld drawing the character on an easel, Deadpool getting mad at how he’s being characterized or rendered, then have him literally leap off of the page, backhand his creator and tell him “Here, let me show you how it’s done.” Same Deadpool, but no muss or fuss from the previous movies otherwise (still, in a sense, canon).
Otherwise, just leave the character alone and to his own devices. He’ll keep printing money for Disney and you ca bring him on for an occasional post-credit good or team-up. Hell, throw him in with Howard the Duck for Deadpool 3. I’d watch that in a heartbeat.