Deadpool 2 arrived over the weekend to positive reviews and a massive box-office haul, solidifying Deadpool's status as an R-rated franchise builder and setting the stage for films to come, like X-Force. The film's success was expected well before it was out, but even as Deadpool fans are celebrating, there's still a big question about the future of the character looming over everything: What happens if and when the rights move to someone else?
For months now a deal has been in the works for the Walt Disney Company to buy out 21st Century Fox's entertainment properties. If the deal goes through, it would include Fox's Marvel Comics film rights, which would include the entire X-Men line. That would mean Marvel Studios would finally have the rights to add the X-Men to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it would also mean that Deadpool would be switching studios at a time when the character is at his most recognizable and profitable, and he would be moving to a studio that isn't known for raunchy R-rated action comedy. So what happens then?
On a new episode of CinemaBlend's ReelBlend podcast, Deadpool co-creator Rob Liefeld — who's been a major advocate for the character's life on film for years — was asked how he felt about the possibility of Disney-produced Deadpool movies. Liefeld seems optimistic, provided Disney keeps one key element from the Fox era.
"Only if Ryan [Reynolds] calls the shots. ... If Ryan is not the guy who is helming that ship, then who cares? If Ryan is given everything that he deserves, and they say, 'You can do your own thing over here under Disney,'" Liefeld said.
Reynolds famously spent more than a decade trying to get Deadpool his own solo film, battling resistance to an R-rated superhero movie and the character's poor treatment in X-Men Origins: Wolverine as he did. Now that the character is a star, he's thrown himself completely not just into making the films but into marketing them, seemingly appearing everywhere at once to promote Deadpool 2 through comedic bits and parodies. The character wears a mask, but Reynolds is the face and voice of Deadpool, and losing him at this stage would be jarring, particularly if Disney decided to scrap his current trajectory.
For Disney's part, it's still not clear exactly how they'd treat Deadpool should the character land in the lap of Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige, but Liefeld has an idea about that too. In spite of Feige's reputation as the mastermind behind Marvel's movie success, Reynolds and company should be able to maintain some sense of autonomy.
"I really believe Ryan, who has invested so much of himself in both movies, and people don't understand — he is all but directing these movies. This sequel, he poured everything that he could into it," he said. "And I just think they gotta... and the thing is, you look at Marvel, and there really only has been one captain of that ship. So I would hope that they go, 'Ryan, you have your own fleet of ships. They're right over here. We have the Santa Maria, and you have the S.S. Deadpool.'"
It seems like we've been talking about this Fox deal forever at this point, and we're no closer to understanding exactly what happens to the various Marvel Comics characters if it goes through, at least not immediately. Plus, the situation has now been complicated by Comcast's own bid to swoop in and get the drop on Disney with a better deal, which means the characters would still be moving, but they'd be moving to a different company and different future altogether if that happens (Comcast is the parent company of NBC Universal, which owns SYFY WIRE).
After the weekend Deadpool 2 had, though, one thing is definitely clear: Whoever gets their hands on the character next would be crazy to mess with this formula. At least for now.
What do you think? Will Deadpool get to remain in his own little meta bubble even if he changes studios mid-franchise?