Deadpool 2 will serve act as a sort of backdoor pilot for X-Force, a planned X-Men universe spinoff on the way from writer-director Drew Goddard (The Cabin in the Woods).
Goddard, who served as writer and producer on Lost, The Martian, and Marvel/Netflix productions Daredevil and The Defenders, will team with Deadpool 2 producers Ryan Reynolds, Lauren Shuler Donner, and Simon Kinberg to bring the black-ops team of mutants to the big screen.
The plan, per a September 2017 report from Deadline, is to spin the mutant team off into their own movie expected to heavily revolve around both Deadpool (Reynolds) and Cable (Josh Brolin).
As revealed by recent reports, Deadpool 2 is undergoing reshoots to add more screen time for time-traveling mutant Cable and fellow franchise newcomer Domino (Zazie Beetz), who have emerged as breakouts following word the sequel is scoring even higher than its predecessor in test screenings — suggesting Domino is likely to be joining 'Pool and Cable over in X-Force.
In the Marvel comic books, X-Force was a more brutal counterpart to famous mutant super-team the X-Men — a task force assembled by Cable, who operated under a simple philosophy: "get them before they get you."
The team primarily and violently took aim at anti-mutant terrorists, with an evolving roster that has counted Deadpool and mutants Domino, Wolverine, Colossus, Warpath, Shatterstar, Archangel, Psylocke and X-23 among its ranks.
The latest Deadpool 2 trailer introduced a slew of new mutants comprising this first iteration of X-Force, including Bedlam (Terry Crews) and mutants who appear to be lesser-known X-verse characters Surge (Shioli Kutsuna), Shatterstar and Zeitgeist.
With stacked X-Force rosters from the comic books that have included more recognizable mutants like Wolverine, Storm, Colossus and Cyclops, it's unlikely the team seen in Deadpool 2 will be the same group of mutants to later unite again under Deadpool and Cable come the X-Force movie, which may head in front of cameras as soon as this fall.
Brolin acknowledged Deadpool 2 will act in part as a springboard for the X-Force spinoff, which will rest in part upon the actor's beefy shoulders.
"I think we’re not trying to hide the fact that this is the beginning of Cable and absolutely not the end," Brolin told Collider, explaining the Deadpool sequel is the first of potentially four planned appearances for the character.
"When we finally get into X-Force," Brolin said, "you're going to be with this guy full blown all the time. There's a lot to be revealed."
"I need 'em tough, morally flexible, and young enough to carry their own franchise for 10-to-12 years."
Despite Disney's $52.4 billion dollar purchase of Fox's film and television assets in December, the studio is moving forward with planned X-Men films.
In February, The Hollywood Reporter revealed Fox has six more X-films in the works, with three to come in 2019 and three more in 2020.
One, The New Mutants, is set for February 22, 2019. If X-Force gets in front of cameras this year, it could drop in 2019. And Deadpool 3 is likely for 2020.
It's unknown how Disney would handle a potential X-Force franchise once Fox's Marvel rights are handed over, but Disney CEO Bob Iger isn't ruling out R-rated Marvel movies after the acquisition is complete.
Whenever Disney does come to own the merc with a mouth in full, it's likely they won't want to get in the way of a massive money-making franchise: Deadpool is the highest-grossing R-rated movie ever, meaning the Mouse House isn't likely to scrape the plates entirely and do away with Ryan Reynold's not-family-friendly mutate.
It makes sense for X-Force to be R-rated, according to producer Simon Kinberg.
"They're like the Black ops of the X-Men," Kinberg told Deadline. "They’re much darker and have an R-rated decibel.”
Following the success of R-rated X-verse hits Deadpool and Logan, Kinberg said, Fox is more willing to explore adults-only comic book fare.
“When there are films that want to be raunchier, want to be darker, want to be violent or R-rated, we'll be open to it," Kinberg said. "If we were to make an X-Force movie, that probably should be R-rated.”
Star and producer Ryan Reynolds, who wields creative control on the franchise and who will be credited as a co-writer on Deadpool 2, is likely to steer an X-Force movie into R-rated territory.
Speaking to fans before Deadpool's blockbuster success in early 2016, Reynolds expressed his hopes for his pet project to open the door for other R-rated superhero movies.
"There are a lot of superhero movies out there on the market. It’s a genre unto itself. I personally would like to see more rated R ones. I just think it’s time," Reynolds said, adding "there's room" for an R-rated X-Force movie.
The Deadpool franchise is already just tentatively tied to the ongoing X-Men franchise, making X-Force the perfect opportunity to reintroduce metal-clawed mutant Wolverine with a new actor following the departure of longtime star Hugh Jackman.
Fox might be wary to recast so soon — Jackman only recently signed off from the role last March in Logan — but adding Wolverine to the mix makes Reynolds' and Brolin's X-Force even more appealing.
Deadpool 2 opens May 18.