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Where does an X-Force movie go after Deadpool 2?

Of all the jaw-dropping jokes in the Marvel blockbuster (and there are many), perhaps none were more entertainingly cruel than its treatment of the superhero squad, which is getting spun off into its own movie by Cabin in the Woods writer-director Drew Goddard.

“What I love most about what Ryan [Reynolds] and his crew over there was able to do with the Deadpool movies is bring this certain sense of surprise and danger,” Goddard tells EW. “You walk into those movies, and you really don’t know what’s going to happen.”

That’s an understatement. Though X-Force was teased as a major element of Deadpool 2, their onscreen debut didn’t exactly go as planned.

With Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) leading the charge, and the eternally lucky Domino (Zazie Beetz) by his side, the team assembled in the cargo bay of a plane, parachuting out one-by-one to intercept time-traveling villain Cable (Josh Brolin). Then, they all died.

Well, almost. Deadpool watched through his fingers as Shatterstar was shredded by helicopter blades, Bedlam crashed into a bus, the little-seen Vanisher got snared in power lines and electrocuted, and Zeitgeist was slowly fed through a wood chipper, taking the poor, too-eager-to-help Peter down with him. At least Domino was fine, her extraordinary luck landing her safely on the ground.

Credit: Twentieth Century Fox

But absurdly enjoyable as it was, all this carnage didn’t exactly pass the baton cleanly off to Goddard, who’ll be jumping headfirst into writing X-Force after he locks a cut of Bad Times at the El Royale, a ’60s-set noir riff due out in October.

“To be honest, I think that’s why it excited me so much,” says Goddard, recounting how he too was blindsided by that mid-film bloodbath. “I remember reading that scene and just cackling with delight, specifically because it was the very last thing you’d expect to happen in one of these movies. These movies are so careful to set up the next thing and the next thing, and it made me so happy.”

Goddard — who served as a script consultant on Deadpool 2, collaborating with co-writers Reynolds, Rhett Reese, and Paul Wernick — says he spoke to Reynolds after reading the scene. “One thing I said to Ryan was, ‘Don’t worry about it, we’ll come up with new ideas; you guys go make your movie, and do your thing. We’ll figure it out,'” he says. “That tends to be the way I like to work. It’s much more important to focus on making the movie that you’re making than focusing on the next thing. It’s much more important to just make one good movie and take your time, then let that dictate what the movies are after.”

So, what does Deadpool 2 mean for X-Force? Though the movie’s post-credits scenes found Deadpool traveling back through time to save Peter from his gruesome fate, he hilariously did little to help the rest of his struggling team members. And so, confirms Goddard, his movie will center around Deadpool, Cable, and Domino, three characters he’s adored since reading X-Force comics as a kid.

“It really all stems from a place of love; I love those comics, I love Ryan, I love Josh, and I love Zazie Beetz,” says Goddard. “When I think of the comics, I think of Cable and Domino and Deadpool, and it’s really just knowing, ‘Oh, right, there’s a world in the X-Universe for the blunt instruments of mutantdom.’ It’s much more about the characters and my love for them than it is about any plot or story line. It’s more about loving them and wanting to see them bounce off each other.”

Goddard — who’s full of praise for Reynolds, calling him “one of the great talents of our time” — is particularly excited to play in the same irreverent, R-rated sandbox Reynolds and company have proven to not just creatively stimulating but also highly bankable. “I trust that my love of these three will lead me someplace new,” he adds.

Deadpool 2
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