After some rather lackluster performances at the box office over the last year or so, Marvel Studios has scaled back its MCU offerings for 2024. We’re getting just one: Deadpool and Wolverine. Maybe one is all we need. Marvel released a two-minute teaser during yesterday’s Super Bowl. And if this is the future of the MCU, count us in. The teaser has already racked up more than 12 million views on YouTube, and deservedly so. It has the cheeky irreverence that made audiences embrace Ryan Reynold’s R-rated superhero in the first place, plus a glimpse of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine—or rather, his distinctive shadow. And yes, Marvel is retaining that R rating—a big step given that all the prior MCU films have been resoundingly PG-13.
(Some spoilers for the first two films below.)
Reynolds famously made his first foray into big-screen superhero movies in 2011’s The Green Lantern, which was a box office disappointment and not especially good. But he found the perfect fit with 2016’s Deadpool, starring as Wade Wilson, a former Canadian special forces operative (dishonorably discharged) who develops regenerative healing powers that heal his cancer but leave him permanently disfigured with scars all over his body. Wade decides to become a masked vigilante, turning down an invitation to join the X-Men and abandon his bad-boy ways.
The first Deadpool was a big hit, racking up $782 million at the global box office, critical praise, and a couple of Golden Globe nominations for good measure. So 20th Century Fox naturally commissioned a sequel. Deadpool 2 was released in 2018 and was just as successful. The adult humor and playful pop culture references were a big part of both films’ appeal, including their respective post-credits scenes. The first film had a post-credits scene spoofing Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The sequel’s mid-credits sequence showed a couple of X-Men repairing a time travel device for Deadpool, which he used to save his girlfriend Vanessa (Morena Baccarin‚—whose tragic death kicked off Deadpool 2—and kill Ryan Reynolds, just as the actor finished reading the script for Green Lantern.
This time around, Shawn Levy takes the director’s chair; he also directed Reynolds in the thoroughly delightful Free Guy (2021), which had similar tonal elements, minus the R-rated humorous riffs. Once we learned that Jackman had agreed to co-star, reprising his iconic X-Men role, fan anticipation shot through the roof. Filming (and hence the release date) was delayed by last summer’s Hollywood strikes but finally wrapped early this year.
Deadpool and Wolverine reunites many familiar faces from the first two films: Reynolds and Baccarin, obviously, but also Leslie Uggams as Blind Al; Karan Soni as Wade’s personal chauffeur, taxi driver Dopinder; Brianna Hildebrand as Negasonic Teenage Warhead; Stefan Kapičić as the voice of Colossus; Shioli Kutsuna as Negasonic’s mutant girlfriend Yukio; Randal Reeder as Buck; and Lewis Tan as X-Force member Shatterstar.
We’re also getting some characters drawn from various films under the 20th Century Fox Marvel umbrella: Pyro (Aaron Stanford)—last seen in 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand—and Jennifer Garner’s Elektra who appeared in the 2003 Daredevil film as well as 2005’s Elektra. Apparently, the mutants Sabretooth and Toad will also appear, along with Dogpool. New to the franchise are Matthew MadFadyen as a Time Variance Authority agent named Paradox and Emma Corrin as the lead villain. There are rumors that Owen Wilson’s Mobius and the animated Miss Minutes from Loki will also appear in the film, which makes sense, given the TVA’s key role in the plot.
The teaser opens with Wade celebrating his birthday with Vanessa and all their friends, only to then have a group of formidable TVA agents knock on his door, brandishing their wands. (“Is that supposed to be scary?” Wade responds. “Pegging isn’t new for me, friendo, but it is for Disney.”) He’s tossed through a portal and ends up at TVA headquarters, face to face with Paradox, who offers him a chance to be “a hero among heroes.” And Wade decides he’s game, declaring himself a superhero Messiah: “I… am… Marvel Jesus.” He suits up as Deadpool, and violence inevitably ensues.
Then comes the shot we’ve all been waiting for: Deadpool lying on his back on icy terrain after being tossed through a wall, with a Wolverine-shaped shadow falling across his body. “Don’t just stand there, you ape—give me a hand up,” Deadpool says, and then sees the claws. We get the briefest glimpse of Wolverine’s trademark yellow X-Men uniform before the credits roll.
Deadpool and Wolverine hits theaters on July 26, 2024.
Listing image by YouTube/Marvel Studios