The Deadpool franchise’s greatest strength—and to its detractors, its biggest weakness—is its irreverence. Deadpool/Wade Wilson knows he’s in a superhero movie (he also knows he’s played by amiable Canadian man Ryan Reynolds) and skewers the tropes that have become a mainstay at the multiplex for the better part of a decade. The whole Deadpool spectacle is all very meta and crass; sometimes excessively so in a “prepubescent boy sneaks into an R-rated movie” way. But the stream of acerbic witticisms bears fruit more often than not. The first Deadpool was mostly very good, but veered perhaps a bit too close to the superhero conventions it was parodying by boiling the plot down to an archetypical hero origin story, except with more dick jokes.
Thankfully, Deadpool 2 is a marked improvement over the original. Where most superhero sequels up the ante, this film is more small-scale and intimate than you’d expect. (This is by design, as Reynolds clashed with original director Tim Miller, who wanted to aim for a more traditional blockbuster sequel).
But Deadpool 2’s meta-heavy brilliance—and really, the best part of the film—comes when you stick around for the post-credits scenes.The movie’s stingers are better than anything the Marvel Cinematic Universe has put out in the last 10 years, and are the new gold standard for the post-credits enterprise as a whole.
In the first scene, we learn that angsty teen X-Men member Negasonic Teenage Warhead has fixed villain-turned-gruff-yet-charming-antihero Cable’s watch-like device that allows him to travel back and forth between his future and the film’s present. The watch ran out of juice by the end of the movie, which Deadpool suggests is “lazy writing” (nice!). In what Warhead acknowledges is probably a bad idea, she hands the device over to Deadpool, who can now travel wherever he pleases across space and time.
Naturally, that means undoing the shocking murder of Deadpool’s girlfriend, Vanessa, that took place at the beginning of the film. Presumably, this means that a third Deadpool film could see Morena Baccarin reprise her role, rather than remaining another casualty of the tiresome Dead Love Interest trope. Deadpool also rescues Peter, the man with no superpowers who volunteered to be part of Deadpool’s team of “forward-thinking, gender-neutral” mutants that make up the X-Force, which is killed along with every X-Force character aside from Zazie Beetz’s Domino in a gruesome, hilariously staged parachute landing when a wind advisory was in effect. Is it messed up that Deadpool’s not willing to revive any other characters who died in the landing? Perhaps, but Peter also had the best line-to-gut-bust ratio of any character, so I’m not complaining.
Then things get extremely self-referential, as Deadpool interjects in the scene from X-Men Origins: Wolverine where Hugh Jackman’s character comes face-to-face with Reynolds’s first, much-maligned iteration of Deadpool whose mouth was literally sewn shut. The new Deadpool unloads an entire clip on the old Deadpool, a cathartic release for not only Reynolds, but anyone who had to sit through the depressing slog that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Finally, Reynolds himself is assassinated, just as he’s going over the Green Lantern script that he believes will be his big breakthrough (narrator voice: It was not his big breakthrough). Amazingly, the initial post-credits cut had this idea taken even further, with Deadpool killing baby Hitler in a German nursery, but the test audience wasn’t so down with infant murder—which, you know ... fair.
Still, as it stands, the Deadpool 2 post-credits scenes are gory, raucous delights, with the kind of meta-humor that only a fourth-wall-breaking antihero like Deadpool can pull off. But the scenes feel especially prescient, and inadvertently scathing, because of the superhero blockbuster that came before it.
Avengers: Infinity War ends (spoiler alert for that other big superhero movie in theaters!) with the deaths of half of Earth’s mightiest heroes. The ending drew audience skepticism because of who was killed; we’re not really saying goodbye to new franchise cornerstones in Black Panther and Spider-Man right after they were introduced in stand-alone movies that made a buttload of cash. A leading theory for the un-killing of these Avengers is linked to some sort of time reversal; the kind of narrative device that’s a common refrain in comic book story lines. Basically, Deadpool 2 has a punch line for a joke that’s still being written.
Thus, the bizarre prescience of Deadpool 2’s post-credits scenes could end up being the franchise’s most memorable legacy—at least until Deadpool 3 has Josh Brolin in character as Cable and Thanos (probably). To put it another way: These post-credit scenes are perfect, so there’s no reason Deadpool needs to go back in time and assassinate the screenwriters—one of whom is, of course, Ryan Reynolds—to stop this movie from ever happening. A year from now, when the narrative-reversing Infinity War sequel hits theaters, Deadpool’s going to have the last laugh at the MCU—at least until Disney acquires 21st Century Fox and attempts to sew his mouth shut again.