The Merc with a Mouth is on his way. Deadpool may not have had a solo movie officially announced as of yet, but that doesn't mean that producers Lauren Shuler Donner and Simon Kinberg haven't already completely given the game away that it's now a question of when, not if, the masked man of mirth will appear in cinemas again. We also know that, as far as she's concerned, Ryan Reynolds is Deadpool, meaning we don't have to worry overmuch about casting. With him all-but being confirmed as not playing Green Lantern again, this seems all the more likely.
Instead, then, the big question is this: How is Deadpool going to fit into the X-Men Universe we know and love?
Note, things are going to get a little SPOILER-y from here on out, but if you've already seen X-Men: Days of Future Past then you're pretty much good to go.
A World Away from X-Men Origins: Wolverine
As Charles Breece recently argued, the ending of X-Men: Days of Future Past seems perfectly designed to set up a Deadpool movie. Not only has the X-Men Origins reality seemingly been pretty comprehensively laid to rest - with that scene on the boat - but a shift away from the more traditional spin-off routine that Origins represented seems to be in the offing.
Simon Kinberg has already confirmed that Deadpool'll be "a hard-R, darker movie", which, if the mooted X-Force movie ever does get made, could be the beginnings of Fox exploring a darker avenue of box office success than their competitors over at Marvel Studios seem willing to.
Persistent buzz has also suggested that Deadpool's spin-off would include him killing off his Origins self, largely to make a point, though the fundamental shift in the universe's reality would seem to indicate that such a plot line is unlikely to make it into the final cut.
So, if we aren't set to see Wade 'Deadpool' Wilson kill an alternative reality version of himself, then how is he going to appear instead?
To X-Force, or Not to X-Force?
Rob Liefeld, the one-time Marvel insider (and Deadpool co-creator) whose approach to Twitter is increasingly like most people's approach to writing novels, has tweeted at length about just how great the prospective X-Force movie's script is - and that it includes Deadpool. That film may or may not have been scuppered by the announcement of X-Men: Apocalypse, but if it does indeed survive, it's both a tantalizing proposition in itself, and the most natural way of re-introducing Wade Wilson to the X-Men universe.
His first appearance was, after all, in The New Mutants #98, a matter of weeks before that series became X-Force in 1991. Flashforward a decade or two, and he ends up being one of the stars of the critically acclaimed rebooting of X-Force back in 2010. With that (Uncanny X-Force) version of the team also featuring Wolverine, the obviously cinematic Psylocke and at one point even a version of Nightcrawler, it seems a straightforward way for the mouthy merc to make his way back to the cinema.
The X-Men Apocalypse Cometh
It isn't, however, how he seems set to arrive. With X-Men: Days of Future Past's success seeming to have prompted Fox to place a greater deal of faith in the series than they previously had, their X-Team eggs seem set to be placed in an Apocalypse-shaped basket, rather than in any new spin-off titles.
If that's the case, will we see Deadpool appear in X-Men: Apocalypse?
There's precedent - at least in a way.
Aside from the fact that he was seen as a viable enough part of the universe to appear in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Deadpool also makes a notable appearance in the storyline that X-Men: Apocalypse seems set to be based on.
In the Age of Apocalypse, though, he wasn't quite the happy-go-lucky fella we've Onecome to know and love. He was, instead, Dead Man Wade:
One of Apocalypse's senior assassins, he was as dark a take on Deadpool as you're likely to see (except in the whole bunch of comics that take him even darker...).
Could we see a hint of this in Apocalypse, before he breaks his conditioning and returns to something (vaguely) close to super-heroism? The talk has all been of Wolverine being coerced into acting as Apocalypse's stooge, but there's nothing that says other heroes couldn't be introduced at the same time...
What about the possibilities for a crossover, though?
Deadpool: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.
This one, sadly, is never likely to happen. What with the rights to Marvel's premiere (currently defunct) spy agency lying squarely with Marvel Studios, no amount of awesome S.H.I.E.L.D./Deadpool storylines from the comics are going to make it happen on the big screen.
That being said - Deadpool's greatest asset as a character is his ability to break the fourth wall. What are the odds that in whatever form we eventually see him, we'll see some sly digs at a mysterious unnamed agency - or even a glimpse of an entertainingly similar (but legally distinct) agency itself? If Marvel's current war with Fox continues, it could be just the way for the X-Franchise to strike back.
Deadpool: Lone Wolf
All of this, though, could be to miss what's truly great about Deadpool. Put aside the snarky comments, the ruthless lack of recognizable morality and the awesome threads. And the swords, obviously. What's left (other than a naked Wade Wilson) is the only superhero around who has been truly let loose - one who can play around with medium in a way no other can.
As a comicbook writer, Deadpool has an incredible appeal for one main reason - you can write the most ludicrous, out-there plots you like, with your main character saying and doing whatever he likes (including hunting down his own creators...) and odds are, it'll end up being canon. It's much the same reason we love him as fans.
Transfer that to the cinema - and there's a real argument for Deadpool being given his own slice of the X-Universe, and others being invited to cameo within it, rather than the other way around. X-Men: Apocalypse isn't likely to feature Deadpool anarchically breaking the fourth wall, setting fire to the film itself, or randomly teleporting in The Blob for no good reason.
And since that is exactly how a Deadpool movie should go, here's hoping that Lauren Shuler Donner and Simon Kinberg have enough faith in the character to go 'Full-Deadpool', and let him loose on an insane, genre-bending solo movie with lower financial (but higher fan-boy cred) expectations.
So, Guardians of the Galaxy, then.
[Deadpool](movie:38663) will appear in a cinema near you soon. Whether he wants you to know he's there or not.