ByTom Bacon, writer at
I'm a film-and-TV fan who grew up with a deep love of superhero comics! Follow me on Twitter @TomABacon or on Facebook @tombaconsuperheroes!
Tom Bacon

2016's most unexpected superhero hit, Deadpool, proved to fans and studios alike that you can diverge wildly from the traditional superhero formulas, and win big at the box office as a result. Nobody was surprised when Fox greenlit a sequel, but as the cast of Deadpool 2 has continued to grow, it's become pretty clear that this is the setup for X-Force!

X-Force is Coming!

Leaked concept art from 2015. [Credit: 20th Century Fox]
Leaked concept art from 2015. [Credit: 20th Century Fox]

Essentially a black-ops team, the first iteration of was created by Rob Liefeld in 1991. Liefeld — the co-creator of himself — is noted for his brutal, bloody artwork and highly sexualized women, and he rejoiced in sending X-Force into the darkest possible places. The star of the show was Cable, a time-traveling warrior who Liefeld commonly drew carrying an armory roughly the size of the US military's entire arsenal!

X-Force has been a mainstay of the X-Men universe ever since, and the success of Deadpool and Logan left fans convinced we'd soon be seeing the long-rumored X-Force film. That was finally confirmed by Deadpool 2 writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, who told Collider:

"There is a responsibility we have to the X-Force universe, and I do think we will not disappoint the fans going into Deadpool 2 and then setting up X-Force and beyond... [Deadpool 2's] purpose is not to set up X-Force. It will likely set up X-Force, but the drive of the movie won’t be our eyes on Movie 3."

This Needs to Be Handled Carefully

Fox needs to learn from their own mistakes. [Credit: 20th Century Fox]
Fox needs to learn from their own mistakes. [Credit: 20th Century Fox]

Superhero movies have a bad history when it comes to overstuffing films with characters; whether you're looking to Spider-Man 3 or Fox's own X-Men: The Last Stand, franchises have often come close to collapsing under the weight of innumerable superheroes and supervillains. As Sony proved with Amazing Spider-Man 2, trying to use a film as a launchpad for a new franchise can backfire badly; their efforts to launch a Sinister Six spinoff essentially sabotaged the Amazing Spider-Man franchise, ultimately forcing Sony to do a deal with Marvel!

Essentially, building a cinematic universe like this is a balancing act. On the one hand, you want each film to stand on its own two feet; on the other, each movie needs to set up the future of the franchise. Fox's X-Men franchise in particular has been guilty of short-term thinking, and it's exciting to see that Wernick and Reese are playing the long-game.

[Credit: Marvel Comics]
[Credit: Marvel Comics]

Wernick in particular stressed the risks of the approach Fox is taking:

"We never want to let the tail wag the dog. We want to tell the best Deadpool story we can. But I do think we have a responsibility to think about a larger universe in the way that Marvel does and start to put pieces in place... We want to hint at things, we want to plan some characters, and we want to make some nods, but we’re very, very cognizant about making sure that Deadpool is above all a Deadpool movie."

Reese clearly agreed, telling CinemaBlend they were trying not to put too much thought into X-Force at this stage.

"We are keeping in mind that there will be a next movie; we’re trying to set up the characters that will be in that next movie. But that’s not our first goal. Our first goal is to tell a Deadpool story in an emotional, fun, satisfying way. And then the fact that we’re setting up something in the future — it’s happening, but you’re not gonna see that mustache-twirling villain, who is going ‘Hahaha, [it’s all coming into place].’ You’re just not going to see that, because that’s not our game.”

It's a very different approach to Marvel's, where the studio always work with an eye to the long game. In Fox's world, each film will be designed to stand as a separate entity; the tie-in is a bonus, not something that runs through the heart of the movie.

Building Fox's X-Force

Deadpool 2 is set to introduce two major X-Force members: Cable and Domino. Cable actually founded X-Force over in the comics; he's a ruthless military figure, a skilled strategist, and a warrior who doesn't pull any punches. Domino is his on-again-off-again lover (she also has a history with Deadpool); she's a probability-manipulating mercenary who always stacks the odds in her favor.

Both Deadpool and Hugh Jackman's are associated with different versions of X-Force, and even Colossus — confirmed to return in Deadpool 2 — has been a member of one X-Force team. Meanwhile, Logan introduces us to Dafne Keen's X-23, Wolverine's female clone, another character who has historically been associated with X-Force. All of these major figures are in the same near-future timeline, so could conceivably team up with ease.

Adding Time Travel to the Mix

Excitingly, of course, the inclusion of Cable brings the concept of time-travel to the foreground. That means even more X-Force characters are in play; specifically Ben Hardy's Archangel and Olivia Munn's Psylocke. Munn in particular is up for the idea, telling USA Today that she'd love to reprise the role of Psylocke in an X-Force film.

"That would be a really cool thing to do. What he did with Deadpool was genius and I’m so excited for him. It would definitely be cool to see Deadpool and some of the other X-Men characters gather for an X-Force movie. I think that’s what the whole world is coming to — everybody unites together, right? It’s never just one character anymore. We all just become one movie."

It's distinctly possible that Fox is already working towards this concept. X-Men: Apocalypse set up a shadowy enemy called Essex Corp, but they'd taken on a very different form by the time of Logan. Logan showed us a world in which the villains had won, in which the mutant race had been wiped out. But it didn't tie in to the 'Essex Corp' nod, which was clearly a reference to a notable comic-book geneticist who goes by the name 'Mr. Sinister'. That seems like a very strange loose thread.

Sinister and his Marauders. [Credit: Marvel Comics]
Sinister and his Marauders. [Credit: Marvel Comics]

Is it possible that an X-Force movie will see characters from this ominous near-future return to the days before the mutant extinction, and work to defeat Essex Corp? Such an approach would essentially allow Fox to reboot the future of their franchise, opening up the timeline yet again, while retaining some of their most promising characters and concepts.

Whether this is the case or not, X-Force can't simply take the cast of Deadpool 2, and add X-23. That would lead to a situation where the Merc With A Mouth dominated the film, and X-Force would essentially become Deadpool 3 in all but name. No, Fox would be far smarter to use time-travel to add in characters like Psylocke, and possibly even Archangel.

See also:

An X-Force movie is in the works, but right now that's all we know. Deadpool's tremendous success has given Fox the confidence to start building a whole new corner of their X-Men universe — a darker, bloodier, raunchier corner. It looks as though X-Force is the result of this newfound confidence, and that bodes well for the future of the X-Men!


Do you think 'Deadpool 2' should launch 'X-Force'?

(Sources: CinemaBlend, Collider, USAToday; Poll Image Credit: Marvel Comics)


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