After that Deadpool 3 trailer, I’m convinced that Deadpool & Wolverine will save the MCU

Deadpool 3
(Image credit: Marvel)

The adamantium claws are out for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and although we once feared Wade Wilson might never get to join the spandex-clad ranks of the Avengers, Shawn Levy’s Deadpool 3 (now officially titled Deadpool & Wolverine) is ushering in a new era. The Stranger Things executive producer follows in the footsteps of previous Deadpool directors Tim Miller and David Leitch, but with the hopes of the MCU resting on his shoulders, the stakes are higher than ever. 

While the MCU once looked like an unstoppable juggernaut that we’d never grow tired of, accusations of quantity over quality mean 2023 was a particularly rough year for the franchise. With Ryan Reynolds’ smart-talking antihero telling us, "Your little cinematic universe is about to change forever," and a little help from a returning Hugh Jackman as Logan/Wolverine, the first Deadpool & Wolverine trailer has thankfully backed up the idea that this dynamic duo can ‘save’ the MCU.

Growing pains

Ryan Reynolds as Wade Wilson in Deadpool and Wolverine

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

X-Men: First Class director Matthew Vaughn recently told the BroBible podcast that from the snippets he knows, Deadpool & Wolverine is going to bring the MCU back to life, adding, "I think Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman are about to save the whole Marvel universe." Levy and co. seemingly know this, and alongside promises to change our "little" cinematic universe, the not-so-subtle jibe where Deadpool refers to himself as "Marvel Jesus" is a wink to the audience while keeping Deadpool’s smarmy self-reverence. Given that the first Deadpool & Wolverine trailer broke records as the most-viewed trailer on YouTube in just 24 hours, early signs are positive that he really can be the Marvel messiah. 

While far from having flatlined, the MCU could do with some saving right now. The franchise is in a state of flux, with 2023’s Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania earning the franchise’s first Razzie nomination(s) and The Marvels setting a new box office low. Couple that with Secret Invasion’s critical panning, and it’s easy to forget Marvel Phase 5 highs like Loki season 2 and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Even the best of these are guilty of teases that could take years to pull off, but after many nods to mutants and the potential of the multiverse, Deadpool & Wolverine’s ability to integrate the X-Men (in whatever form) feels like the ultimate payoff. 

The X-Men are up there with the Fantastic Four as one of Marvel’s biggest brands, and with Disney CEO Bob Iger saying the studio "is starting to focus on some of its stronger franchises," it all fits with MCU overlord Kevin Feige’s previous promises of fewer new projects. Deadpool & Wolverine might be Disney’s only theatrical MCU release in 2024, but being an established name that leans on the already beloved IP of Loki is a double box tick. 

Speaking of "stronger franchises," it feels like a true continuation of Fox’s X-Men movies. As the cherry on top, Jackman promising Deadpool & Wolverine won’t mess with Wolverine’s emotional swansong in James Mangold’s Logan gives fans the best of both worlds. Deadpool and Wolverine won’t be saving the MCU alone, and alongside a who’s who of Deadpool staples, the surprise return of Aaron Stanford’s Pyro suggests we’ve only scratched the surface of familiar faces suiting up. 

Big names like James Marsden and Famke Janssen have previously expressed an interest in reprising their roles, while Patrick Stewart’s Professor Charles Xavier seems likely if you believe the theories that Emma Corrin is playing Cassandra Nova. Remembering how X-Men: Days of Future Past is widely regarded as the ‘best’ X-Men movie by bridging the Stewart and [James] McAvoy eras, bringing back the old guard is a hopeful recipe for box office success. 

'R' you ready?

Deadpool 3

(Image credit: Marvel)

Deadpool & Wolverine marks another important milestone as the MCU’s first R-rated movie. Many think a more adult MCU will help it get back on top, and although the Deadpool & Wolverine trailer having lewd jokes about "pegging" might not be what we expected, the series’ signature fourth-wall-breaking brand hasn’t been diluted by the House of Mouse. A blood-soaked Deadpool and plenty of F-bombs show this isn’t your typical MCU movie, and unlike Chris Pratt’s potty mouth in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, it doesn’t feel out of place here. 

Even though an R-rating is a gamble compared to the broader appeal of something like Avengers: Endgame’s PG-13 rating, Deadpool earning $782.2 million at the box office and Deadpool 2 beating it with $785.8 million places the pair as the third and fourth highest-grossing R-rated movies of all time. History has taught us that a third Deadpool movie was likely to be a hit even without Disney, however, making him part of the 616 timeline, throwing in the return of Wolverine, and sprinkling in some legacy cameos means Deadpool & Wolverine stands a chance of knocking Joker and its $1.079 billion from the top spot.

It would be unfair to hinge the fate of the MCU on Deadpool & Wolverine, because, let’s be honest, the franchise’s problems run much deeper. Marvel outings are increasingly divisive, and with the Jonathan Majors situation leaving us worried for the next big team-up in what was supposed to be Avengers: The Kang Dynasty, Deadpool & Wolverine can set the stage with all this crossover chaos. Either way, a six-year wait and a decline in MCU quality have only made us more ravenous to see what the Merc with a Mouth can do with the world’s highest-grossing franchise. If nothing else, seeing Succession’s Matthew Macfadyen as another corporate shill is enough to have us there on day one. 

For more on Marvel, here's you guide to how to watch the Marvel movies in order and all of the upcoming Marvel movies and shows we know about.

Tom Chapman

Tom Chapman is a hero and horror-loving writer from Manchester, with a degree in Broadcast Journalism from Leeds University. He has over eight years of experience writing about all things movies, TV, and video games, even having a stint writing about Game of Thrones in Germany. Tom's bylines include Digital Spy, Den of Geek, GGRecon, IGN, Radio Times, Yahoo!, and more. With a love of all things Westeros and WandaVision, Tom has (almost) done it all. When not practising his Billy Butcher impression or diving into the latest Chuck Palahniuk book, you'll find Tom conjuring up his dream cast for a Scream movie.