Beware, spoilers below!
As Deadpool fans know all too well, Marvel’s merry Merc with a Mouth takes no prisoners in crimefighting or comedy. Like its blockbuster 2016 predecessor, Deadpool 2 is filled with fourth-wall breaking gags that target everything from other comic-book movies to real-world celebrities. If anything, the David Leitch-directed sequel ups the ante of jokes to a positively dizzying number. In case you’re emerging from the movie feeling unsteady, Yahoo Entertainment is here with an explainer for some of its biggest in-jokes, insider references, and Easter eggs.
Of flashdancers and Terminators
Considering all the movie references he casually drops in conversation and combat, it’s a wonder that Deadpool has any time to fight bad guys. Deadpool 2 is filled with knowing asides to a panoply of favorite films, from blockbuster franchises to endearing romances. Take the opening few minutes, which cut directly from the execution of Wade’s beloved girlfriend Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) to a James Bond-inspired opening credits sequence that nudges the audience in the ribs about what they just witnessed. There’s even an additional parody within this parody when Deadpool channels Jennifer Beals in 1983’s Flashdance and showers himself in bullets, rather than water — a shot that was heavily featured in the film’s marketing campaign.
Staying in the ’80s, considering his imposing bulk and background as a time-traveler made up of a mixture of organic and robot parts, it’s safe to say that Cable (Josh Brolin) could have emerged from the same Skynet factory that mass-produced T-800s. (For the record, the character made his first comic-book appearance in 1990 — six years after James Cameron’s original Terminator and the year prior to T2.) So it only makes sense for Deadpool to drop a Terminator reference while tangling with his new frenemy. Wade being Wade, though, he bypasses the obvious similarity and instead refers to Cable as “John Connor,” who was famously not a killer robot from the future. Except, of course, in Terminator Genisys, but we’re all still pretending that movie never happened.
Not even Star Wars is off-limits for Deadpool. While cuddling with Vanessa before her murder, he suggests that secret siblings Luke and Leia got it on in A New Hope before she reminds him that happened in The Empire Strikes Back. (Off-screen, of course.) Elsewhere, Colossus (Stefan Kapičić) channels another metal enforcer, RoboCop, when he tells the rampaging Juggernaut to “Stand down,” and Deadpool’s favorite cabbie, Dopinder (Karan Soni) makes it clear he’s more of an Interview With the Vampire fan than Taxi Driver aficionado, repeatedly telling his frequent passenger (who rarely, if ever, pays full fare) that he’s longing to be the Kirsten Dunst to Wade’s Tom Cruise. Finally, our eyes filled with tears (of laughter) when Deadpool got his Lloyd Dobler on, standing outside the X-Mansion with the world’s tiniest boombox blasting out “In Your Eyes” in order to win his jilted X-Friends back. To quote a different Cameron Crowe classic, you complete us, Wade.
X marks the jokes
It wouldn’t be a Deadpool movie without some self-referential digs at the X-Men films, in whose universe the Merc with a Mouth technically resides. And there are plenty to find in Leitch’s sequel, most notably an amusing cameo from Professor X (the James McAvoy version, not Patrick Stewart), Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Quicksilver (Evan Peters), and other select members of 20th Century Fox’s mutant team that occurs while Wade Wilson is recuperating from his self-imposed injuries at the X-Mansion early on in the film. During his time under Xavier’s roof, Deadpool also uses both the professor’s wheelchair and his telepathy-enhancing Cerebro helmet.
Meanwhile, Marvel Zombies will recognize that the Essex House for Mutant Rehabilitation — the facility that young Russell (Julian Dennison) wants to escape from — boasts the same name as the Essex Corporation teased in X-Men: Apocalypse’s post-credits scene. Essex happens to be the surname of one of the X-Men’s most famous villains, Mister Sinister, who is still waiting to be officially introduced into the mutants’ cinematic universe. At one point, he was going to appear in the Wolverine trilogy capper, Logan, until director James Mangold decided that his presence might impact the movie’s grounded, gritty reality. Similarly, Josh Boone’s upcoming New Mutants movie was reportedly going to feature Mad Men star Jon Hamm in a small Sinister cameo, but those plans were scuttled after the film’s release date was delayed.
Last, but certainly not least, there are the numerous jokes aimed at Deadpool’s adamantium-clawed idol — and Ryan Reynolds’s frequent real-life foil — Wolverine (Hugh Jackman). The movie begins with a suicide sequence specifically designed to one-up the emotional finale of Logan. Later on, there’s a box of Wolverine cereal, signed by Reynolds. And then there’s the closing credits stinger, which features an actual Jackman cameo… kind of. Using Cable’s time-skipping device, Deadpool travels to the end of the much-reviled X-Men Origins: Wolverine and kills that movie’s bastardized version of Wade Wilson. “Just cleaning up the timeline,” he remarks cheekily. Go ahead and erase that entire movie while you’re at it, Wade. (See below for an additional explainer on those end credits Easter eggs.)
Meet the X-Force
There’s a new force for good in the X-Men branch of the Marvel movie universe: an X-Force, you might say. In order to battle the futuristic threat posed by Cable — and protect the volatile young mutant Russell, aka Firefist (Julian Dennison) — Deadpool assembles his own personal team of empowered oddballs.
His list of recruits includes super-lucky Domino (Zazie Beetz), mayhem-causing Bedlam (Terry Crews), shocking Shatterstar (Lewis Tan), acid-spewing Zeitgeist (Bill Skarsgard), disappearing Vanisher (played by Brad Pitt in one of two surprise cameos by Ocean’s Eleven alums)… and mild-mannered Peter (Rob Delaney). With the exception of good ol’ Pete, each of these characters has, at one point or another, been a card-carrying member of the comic book version of the X-Force, which Rob Liefeld created in 1991 and operated under Cable’s leadership for the first few years of its existence. (In the case of Vanisher, he wasn’t necessarily a willing member: Introduced as a villain in the ’60s, he later gets dragged into an X-Force storyline and is made to help the team he generally prefers to fight.)
Watch: The A-list cameo everyone missed in Deadpool 2:
The X-Force lineup has changed significantly over the past 17 years, and Deadpool 2 reflects that ever-shifting membership by slaughtering pretty much the entire team mere moments into their first mission. Parachuting out of a plane to fight Cable, each meets a grisly (and hilarious) death with only the dynamic duo of Deadpool and Domino surviving. Beyond spoofing more successful super-teams like the Avengers, this sequence also pays homage to a key bit of X-Force history.
In 2001, the artist-writer team of Peter Milligan and Mike Allred completely revamped the comic book and their debut issue — the infamous X-Force No. 116 — concluded with the squad dying in spectacularly gory fashion. By the way, the leader of that doomed crew was Zeitgeist, making his Deadpool 2 cameo all the more appropriate.
Even though X-Force’s first cinematic outing ends in disaster, don’t for a second think that the team is disbanding. Writer-director Drew Goddard is taking point on an X-Force feature that will reunite Cable and Deadpool, and presumably scene-stealer Domino. This nascent trio already has their own theme song, a wacky X-Force number that plays over the closing credits with lyrics that are definitely NFSW.
Watch: Deadpool builds a super team:
Deadpool may be part of the Marvel Universe in comic book form, but he’s not a citizen of the Marvel Cinematic Universe… at least, not yet, anyway. That doesn’t prevent him from taking potshots at the MCU from afar, though. Early on in the movie, when he briefly loses his mutant superpowers, he takes aim at the Avengers’ missing archer, remarking, “Give me a bow and arrow and I’m basically Hawkeye.” He also dubs taxi-driving buddy Dopinder “Brown Panther” and lucky Domino the “black Black Widow.” Brolin’s Cable isn’t immune to his verbal digs either, with Deadpool commenting on his “Winter Soldier arm” and hushing him up by saying, “Zip it, Thanos.” For comedic impact, however, his finest Marvel joke may be ridiculing the “Sun is getting real low” mantra that Black Widow (and, later, Thor) uses to calm Hulk.
DC gets zinged, too
It’s easy — perhaps too easy — to make light of the dark and brooding DC Extended Universe. But let’s be brutally honest: With the exception of Wonder Woman, joking about the DCEU is often more satisfying than watching the DCEU. Some of Deadpool 2‘s biggest laughs come at the expense of its Distinguished Competition, with special attention devoted to the Dark Knight himself. In an early encounter with Cable, for example, Wade channels Michael Keaton’s “I’m Batman” moment from Tim Burton’s 1989 blockbuster (a quote that Keaton recently resurfaced in real life) and then asks the grim and gritty mutant, “Are you sure you’re not from the DC Universe?” Even Batman’s mom is fair game; when Vanessa calls her lover out on being home late, he invents an elaborate story about being forced to fight a bat-like hero, only stopping when it became clear that they were both birthed by mothers named Martha. C’mon, who’s gonna believe a crazy coincidence like that, anyway?
Ground control to Major Tom
For all the ribbing, there is one thing that unites both the DCEU and the DXMU (Deadpool X-Men Universe): a shared disbelief that David Bowie has shuffled off this mortal coil. Wade, for one, simply doesn’t acknowledge that the glam rock legend is dead, mistakenly taking solace in the “fact” that, even if George Michael (his other favorite artist) has passed on, Bowie is still alive and kicking. His ignorance is more charming — and much funnier — than the tone-deaf Bowie reference in Justice League, where he, Prince, and Superman were all featured on the front page of a Metropolis tabloid speculating whether all of Earth’s heroes were returning to the stars.
Papa, do you want to build a snowman?
Deadpool 2 launches jokes at such lightning speed that one would be forgiven for missing a couple of its choice one-liners. However, there’s no forgetting what’s arguably the movie’s best recurring gag: Deadpool pointing out that part of Barbra Streisand’s memorable 1983 Yentl song “Papa, Can You Hear Me?” is eerily similar to Frozen’s 2013 tune “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” It’s absurdist humor that doubles as snarky pop-culture criticism. (Judge for yourself below.)
The Passion of the Deadpool
The original Deadpool wasn’t just a big hit; with $363 million earned in the U.S. alone, it’s currently the second highest-grossing R-rated film in domestic history, behind only Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, which earned $370 million in 2004. But second place is for losers, so Reynolds’s red-clad badass can’t help but reference that runner-up ranking, while also taking pains to point out that “We beat them overseas, where there’s no such thing as religion.”
Fox and Friends
As one of Fox’s biggest cinematic properties, Deadpool might be expected to go lightly on its current parent corporation. In keeping with the franchise’s leave-no-target-unscathed approach, that doesn’t turn out to be the case. When Colossus responds negatively to the assassin’s enthusiasm for the history-making romance between Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) and Yukio (Shioli Kutsuna), Deadpool doesn’t waste a second delivering a scathing Fox News-related comeback: “Pump the hate brakes, Fox & Friends.”
Watch: Why Deadpool‘s groundbreaking gay superheroes ‘weren’t making a statement’:
This is the end
To paraphrase Anton Chekov, if you introduce a time-travel device in the first act, it has to be used in the third… or, failing that, during the closing credits. After Cable makes the decision to use his one-way ticket back to the future to rewind time and save the Merc with a Mouth, Deadpool tasks Negasonic and Yuki with fixing his new teammate’s time-turner on the sly. And Wade has big plans for that little device. Naturally, the first stop on his trip back through the timestream is the scene of Vanessa’s tragic death — a wrong he puts right again by successfully stopping her assassin’s bullet. “I’ll see you soon,” he promises his revived girlfriend, as he zips off to his next appointment: saving Peter from an acid bath spewed forth by a mangled Zeitgeist as he’s chewed up by a garbage truck. (Sucks to be the rest of the X-Force team, whose deaths aren’t reversed.)
Lest you think Deadpool’s gone soft by using time-travel to save people, he soon transitions back into executioner mode in other timelines. As previously mentioned, he initially revisits X-Men Origins and rids the world of that Wade Wilson. Then he pays a visit to our world circa 2010, when a fresh-faced Ryan Reynolds pulls the trigger on that ill-fated Green Lantern feature. So Deadpool goes and pulls the trigger on Reynolds, splattering his blood all over the Lantern script and saving the world from this gaseous version of Parallax. Your Honor, don’t judge Deadpool too harshly: ’twas but a mercy killing.
Watch: Reynolds looks back at a decade of Deadpool:
Deadpool 2 is in theaters now.
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