Warning: This article contains spoilers from Deadpool 2. Read on at your own risk.
Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) has some unfinished business in the post-credits scenes attached to Deadpool 2. It has nothing to do with the time-displaced Cable (Josh Brolin), who hunts down a young mutant in the R-rated sequel. It has nothing to do with some of the other baddies who pop up. It has everything to do with the janky X-Men movie timeline.
There has been some, let’s say, confusion over the X-Men cinematic universe. Days of Future Past saw Wolverine travel back in time to change an apocalyptic future and effectively rewrite the events that happened in the original X-Men trilogy. Then the events of Logan happened even deeper in the future, and also, did he go far back enough in time to pretend X-Men Origins: Wolverine never happened — like many of the fans seem to do?
Suffice it to say, there are a few inconsistencies. So, combining humor, time travel, and some epic universe-breaking, the Deadpool of Deadpool 2 attempts to rectify this.
First, a quick recap of the film: Wade is dealing with the death of Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) at the hands of a criminal when Cable, a time-traveling mutant from the future, uses a device to head to the past in order to kill a young mutant named Russell (Julian Dennison), who would grow up to become the villain that murders his family. Cable only has two charges: one to travel back in time, and one to return to his future. But when Wade jumps in front of Cable’s bullet to save Russell — thereby changing the course of the kid’s life and safeguarding Cable’s future — Cable uses his final charge to go back in time and save Wade.
So Cable is sticking around for a while, which aligns with Brolin’s multi-film contract to appear in these superhero movies.
Now to the post-credits (or, to be more accurate, the mid-credits) scenes: In the first part, Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) and Yukio (Shioli Kutsuna), Hollywood’s first openly gay superhero couple, are repairing Cable’s time-travel device. There are some basic rules to this tech that we learn about in the film, like the further back in time you go, the harder it is to control where you land. Wade, obviously, goes back in time to save Vanessa, but then he quickly realizes he has the means to right more wrongs.
Earlier in the film, Deadpool assembles his own supergroup called X-Force (also the name of a future X-Men film from 20th Century Fox) to take on Cable. In a hilarious comedy of errors, most of the team — including Bedlam (Terry Crews), Shatterstar (Lewis Tan), Vanisher (Brad Pitt … yes, that Brad Pitt), Zeitgeist (Bill Skarsgard), and Peter (Rob Delaney) — are accidentally killed after parachuting out of a plane. So Deadpool goes back in time to save … Peter?
The merc only goes as far back as to tell the only non-super-powered member of X-Force to just go home. Meanwhile, it seems everyone else is still dead.
Wade, however, has even bigger fish to fry.
The third stop he makes leaping through time is to take care of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, a festering sore on the face of this franchise. In real life, Reynolds has said it was “a very frustrating experience” working on Origins because he felt the Deadpool portrayed in that film didn’t honor the comics or the fans. “I was already attached to the Deadpool movie. We hadn’t at that point written a script yet,” he recalled to EW in 2016. “[Origins] came along and it was sort of like, ‘Play Deadpool in this movie or we’ll get someone else to.’ And I just said, ‘I’ll do it, but it’s the wrong version. Deadpool isn’t correct in it.’”
In the Deadpool 2 credits scenes, footage from Origins appears on screen, showing the final-act face-off between Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine and Reynolds’ Wade, who had been transformed into an experimental hybrid of other mutants’ abilities with his mouth sewn shut. That’s when the Deadpool of Deadpool 2 pops in. “Just cleaning up the timelines,” he tells Wolverine while shooting this fan-hated Deadpool in the head a bunch of times.
According to screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, they needed Jackman’s permission to pull off this particular credits scene because of the Origins footage. “He and Ryan are frenemies, you know, online, and in the public. But they’re actually good friends, and he was very supportive, so that was awesome,” Reese told IGN.
On another note, the hoped-for Wolverine and Deadpool appearance in a X-Men movie, in a roundabout way, finally happened!
The next and final stop on Deadpool’s jaunt marks another inside joke for fans: the moment Reynolds agreed to do 2011’s Green Lantern.
Reynolds, in real life, has constantly mocked himself for making that movie. “I’ve never seen the full final version of Green Lantern,” he said recently. “I saw a very late stage rough cut of the film. Now, that isn’t to say that I didn’t want to see it because I didn’t like it. I have movies that have been received pretty well that I haven’t seen, and then I have movies that I have seen 100 times that people don’t like but I just like.”
There was even a joke in the first Deadpool movie where Wade exclaims before his experimental procedure, “Just promise you’ll do right by me so I can do right by someone else … and please don’t make the super-suit green — or animated.”
In Deadpool 2, Wade gives fans a satisfying moment when he materializes behind Reynolds and puts a bullet in his head, splashing his brains over the script for Green Lantern and preventing this movie from ever happening.
In response, the official Twitter account for Warner Bros. Home Entertainment reached out to Reynolds to ask for their Lantern ring back. He, in turn, joked, “Well, if we’d used a NuvaRing™️ in the first place, we wouldn’t be in this mess.”
Director David Leitch and his team toyed with using other end-credit codas, including one involving Chris Evans. Though the actor is known to the world as Captain America in the Disney-owned Avengers movies, he first portrayed the Human Torch in the Fox-owned Fantastic Four movies. (With the impending Disney-Fox merger, the minutiae of which studio owns which franchise might not matter so much anymore.)
“We thought of Chris Evans, have Chris Evans come in and have him go ‘hey’, and sort of be acting like Captain America, but Ryan’s like, ‘We all know you’re the Human Torch, you’re not Captain America, so let’s not kid ourselves,’” Wernick told Fandango. “And then Chris was going to say, ‘we all have our pasts’. We just decided the time machine was the funniest angle.”
Deadpool 2 is in theaters now.