In late 2017, Disney (DIS) was putting the finishing touches upon its acquisition of 21st Century Fox’s major entertainment assets. At the time, movie fans were excited at the prospect of Fox’s X-Men, Fantastic Four and Deadpool properties being re-routed to Marvel Studios and the endlessly successful Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, while the X-Men and Fantastic Four are well-suited to the MCU’s PG-13 four-quadrant tone, Ryan Reynold’s bloody and foul-mouthed superhero franchise is unmistakably a questionable fit with its R-rated content.
We all know how much the Mouse House prizes its family-friendly atmosphere, yet the Deadpool series is a serious moneymaker with more than $1.5 billion at the worldwide box office combined. What will happen when an immovable object meets an unstoppable force?
“[Deadpool] clearly has been and will be Marvel branded. But we think there might be an opportunity for a Marvel-R brand for something like Deadpool,” Disney CEO Bob Iger said in December 2017. “As long as we let the audiences know what’s coming, we think we can manage that fine.”
But fast-forward to today and all is not going swimmingly in the transitional phase. According to a new report from Variety, Disney is “grappling” with how to incorporate Deadpool into its existing happy-go-lucky universe.
“The goal is to find a way for the character to move seamlessly between Avengers spinoffs and bloody, profane stand-alone adventures,” according to the outlet.
Good luck with that.
Iger and Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige know exactly how valuable Reynolds’ Merc With a Mouth can be. But given the critical stumbles and significant financial failure of Dark Phoenix, plus Disney’s rumored unhappiness with the horror-centric X-Men spinoff New Mutants, the Magic Kingdom might be feeling a bit risk-averse at the moment. Would Reynolds be onboard with a creatively neutered Deadpool? Can Marvel realistically play both sides with R-rated solo films and PG-13 team-ups? Stay tuned to find out.