That means that all of the arguable top three actors from Fox's now-defunct X-Men franchise will have made it into the MCU in some way, shape, or form (counting Patrick Stewart as Professor X, who had a cameo in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness).
And with Jackman's involvement not just already known, but literally the first thing fans learned about Deadpool 3, we're expecting Marvel Studios to bring some serious fireworks to the film - much like how Professor X was just the tip of the proverbial iceberg in Multiverse of Madness.
The obvious escalation would be the inclusion of even more mutants - new or returning - and a host of Marvel Universe cameos. But at this point, even that is an obvious answer to the question of "what next."
That said, if Marvel really wants to go for it with a story that touches as many parts of both the old X-Men film world and the Marvel Cinematic Universe as it wants, as well as include a meaty, co-starring role for Hugh Jackman's triumphant return, they could always turn to comics for what we'll call 'the nuclear option'...
Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe.
Yeah, it doesn't have 'Wolverine' in the title, but it still grabs the attention.
Yes, it happened in comic books. Deadpool single-handedly killed the entire Marvel Universe - or at least ONE entire Marvel Universe, and a popular Marvel character spent the story trying to stop him.
Here's how it went down:
What happens in Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe?
Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe (opens in new tab) is a 2012 limited series by writer Cullen Bunn, artists Dalibor Talajic and Lee Loughridge, and letterer Lee Sabino, which delivers exactly what it says in the title: Deadpool blasting, slashing, and just plain Merc'ing his way the through one of the worlds in the Marvel Multiverse that most closely resembles the core Marvel Universe.
It all starts when the Deadpool of Earth-12101 is taken to a superhero psychiatrist, who is secretly a version of cult-classic Fantastic Four villain the Psycho-Man, for some special treatments meant to brainwash him.
But Deadpool being Deadpool, everything goes wrong when Wade realizes his entire reality is fictional - like, way more than even his usual fourth-wall-breaking antics - and decides to put an end to the whole place. Like, the entire 'fake' universe.(opens in new tab)
He starts with Reed Richards and the Fantastic Four, wiping them out entirely. Then he moves on to Uatu the Watcher, the supposedly non-interfering cosmic observer who watches and records the entire timeline of the Marvel Universe, who he also murders - but not before Uatu refuses to tell him on whose behalf he is observing the timeline.
From there he destroys the entirety of the Avengers by using stolen Pym Particles to crush them with their own Avengers Mansion headquarters - as well as killing Thor by enlarging Mjolnir to massive size as it returns to his hand, smashing him.
As Deadpool makes his way through numerous heroes and villains, Taskmaster is hired by the surviving loved ones of those he's murdered so far to track him down and stop him.
And as we say, here's where Hugh Jackman's Wolverine could come into play as the other big character of the story, replacing Taskmaster as the hero tracking Deadpool across this version of the Marvel Universe trying to slow down his destruction.
Wolverine/Jackman's role could also be expanded to factor in more prominently and earlier in the story.
And the news that will rev up fans is his battle with Deadpool in Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe is a particularly brutal fight that comes right at the end of Wade having killed all the other X-Men.
After slaughtering the X-Men, Deadpool then murders Doctor Strange and Wong, using their mystical artifacts to access the vast Marvel cosmos, killing every cosmic being from Galactus to Silver Surfer, and even Thanos.(opens in new tab)
Finally, Taskmaster (who could be Wolverine) catches up to him in the Nexus of All Realities, where all the worlds in the Marvel Multiverse come together. There they fight in front of the Nexus' guardian, the Man-Thing, who has the power to incinerate anyone who feels fear in its presence.
As they fight, Deadpool manages to convince Taskmaster of what he already knows - that their reality is totally fictional. Terrified at the revelation, Taskmaster is engulfed in flames by the Man-Thing, allowing Deadpool to make his way into the wider Marvel Multiverse - first stop, killing the comic versions of the story's actual real-world creators, not unlike some of the meta-humor in Deadpool 2's stinger scenes.
From there, the story actually has two sequels. The first is Deadpool: Killustrated (opens in new tab), in which Wade ventures into the so-called 'Ideaverse' killing dozens of public domain characters from classic literature.(opens in new tab)
And the third and final chapter is Deadpool Kills Deadpool (opens in new tab), in which the Wade Wilson of Earth-12101 tries to kill all the other Deadpools in the Multiverse, before finally meeting his match in the Deadpool of the core Marvel Universe, Earth-616.
Then in 2017, Marvel published a spiritual sequel titled Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe Again (opens in new tab), not connected to the original tale of Deadpool of Earth-12101, in which Deadpool cuts his way across another version of the Marvel Universe, this time as a sleeper assassin for a group of supervillains.
Deadpool kills the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
The idea of bringing Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe to the MCU is pretty straightforward. Ryan Reynolds Deadpool kills his way through an entire alternate Marvel Universe on his way to the MCU, all the while Wolverine pursues him (with some focus on the Marvel Universe connections between Wolverine and Deadpool).
If that's not enough to sell you at least on the concept, well, maybe the idea of an all-encompassing R-rated blast through a world where MCU characters who look a lot like the ones we know and love can say and do things their core MCU counterparts never could is enough to whet your whistle.
And if that's still not enough, there's plenty of opportunity to open the floodgates of old-school Marvel movie cameos before Avengers: Secret Wars, including as many Fox X-Men as they want Deadpool to murder onscreen.
Sounds like a win-win for viewers, Marvel, Deadpool, and pretty much everyone except the poor Multiverse world that gets in Wade Wilson's way.
If Marvel wants to have their cake and slice it too, adapting Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe is a perfect way to give Wade his own entire R-rated MCU playground, while still leaving plenty of room for him to step into the PG-13 context of the wider Marvel Cinematic Universe.
If you can't get enough of the Merc With a Mouth, read the Best Deadpool stories of all time.