Successfully integrating Deadpool into the Marvel Cinematic Universe may be the most challenging task faced by Kevin Feige in his 13 years running the studio. This is, after all, a character so outrageous and eccentric that his previous studio bosses, at 20th Century Fox, barely allowed him to venture into the main X-Men timeline, for fear that all that wisecracking meta-nuttiness would be too unsettling for its oh-so-serious mutant saga.
Deadpool’s screenwriters, Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, have previously played the potty-mouthed antihero’s detachment from the world of Charles Xavier and Magneto for laughs – he only ever seems to hang out with X-Men we have barely heard of, such as Negasonic Teenage Warhead and her girlfriend, Yukio. But there is good reason: Ryan Reynolds’ R-rated, ultraviolent and bawdy version of Deadpool needs to be front and centre in his own movie, to avoid overwhelming everything around him.
And yet, following the purchase of Fox by Disney, which also owns Marvel, Deadpool almost certainly will be integrated at some point into the main MCU. Feige himself has hinted as much. And rumours this week suggest it may be Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi who is handed the task.
This, surely, is a no-brainer. If Marvel can retain the screenwriting might of Reese and Wernick, and combine them with Waititi’s instinctive understanding of what makes the MCU tick, the studio ought to be on to a winner. From the moment the son of Odin appeared to be breaking the fourth wall in the opening scenes of Ragnarok, as he prepared to battle the fire demon Surtur, it was apparent that the Oscar-nominated New Zealand director’s radical reinvention of Thor from a po-faced bruiser to a lovable, cheery cosmic figure of fun had been heavily influenced by the first Deadpool movie. Now Waititi may get to return the favour.
It is not hard to imagine that, were the former king of Asgard and Deadpool to meet, they would get on famously. Both are heavily tainted heroes, who are painfully aware of their own shortcomings and spend much of their time stumbling down the path to heroism in a manner that makes you wonder if cosmic destiny isn’t somehow guiding their actions. Deadpool may be capable of regrowing severed limbs, while Thor can channel thunder and lighting, but sheer dumb luck seems to be the superpower that most distinguishes them. It’s not hard to imagine the pair starring in their own Ragnarok-style cosmic buddy movie, allowing Deadpool to be gently eased into the MCU before he meets the full superhero gang.
Whether Reynolds would embrace such a move remains to be seen. But there is an argument to be made that, despite the excellence of the first two films, Deadpool could do with escaping his own small corner of the Marvel sandpit and hurtling into the wider universe. While Deadpool 2 successfully introduced the likes of Cable and (briefly) the X-Force to audiences, there was a sense that these introductions really only existed as disposable comic foils for Reynolds to riff off. That, possibly, is why only lesser-known X-Men have been allowed to appear alongside Deadpool.
The appeal of a fully integrated MCU Deadpool is that the mutant would get to trade superhero banter with truly worthy opponents for the first time. Spider-Man, Wolverine, Thor, Captain Marvel: these are all A-list Marvel figures who would be expected to bite back. Finally, after a pair of outings in which Deadpool has often resembled a wisecracking Gulliver being tied down by pesky Lilliputians, he would have to pick on somebody his own size. It’s time for this foul-mouthed, overgrown toddler to start hanging out with the big kids … and the prospect is tantalising.