Entertainment

The Self-Deprecating Ending of 'Deadpool 2' Is the Funniest Part of the Movie

Deadpool 2
Deadpool 2 | Fox
Deadpool 2 | Fox

This post contains spoilers for the movie Deadpool 2, and discusses the ending of the movie in detail.

Not every joke in Deadpool 2 hits its target. The sequel to 2016's runaway blockbuster, which starred Ryan Reynolds as a smart-ass superhero with a gift for brutally murdering bad guys and making 12-year-olds giggle, takes a Family Guy-like approach to comedy: constantly fire off rude one-liners and pop culture references, and see what sticks. By the end, you'll either be charmed by its persistence or exhausted by its relentless pursuit of the next punchline.

And, in true blockbuster fashion, Deadpool 2 saves its best wisecracks for the post-credits scene.

The primary appeal of the so-called Merc with a Mouth is that he takes playful, irreverent potshots at other superhero films: Deadpool 2 opens with voice-over narration mocking last year's Oscar-nominated X-men movie Logan, which also arrived with an R-rating, and doesn't let up for its two-hour runtime. The happy-go-lucky Marvel Cinematic Universe (including the most recent Avengers film) and the po-faced DC movies (like the Justice League) all get name-checked in a blur of quips, explosions, and familiar needle-drops. 

But, like many comedians, Deadpool's best material is often self-deprecating. He dishes out meta-barbs and ironic asides at the expense of other franchises; he can also take it. In the post-credits scene, which finds the smarmy assassin using time-travel technology he steals from Josh Brolin's Cable to "fix" past wrongs, Deadpool 2 skewers two embarrassing chapters in Reynolds' own long journey to super-hero stardom. Fittingly, it shows no mercy. 

Deadpool X-men origins wolverine
X-Men: Origins Wolverine | 20th Century Fox

Deadpool erases his embarrassing debut in X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Most fans of comic book movies know that 2016's Deadpool was not the character's big-screen debut. In one of the more bizarre and embarrassing creative decisions in a franchise filled with leaps in logic and messy continuity, the 2009 film X-Men Origins: Wolverine attempted to dig into the backstory of its cigar-chomping protagonist while also introducing a long list of new mutants, including Gambit, Blob, and Wade Wilson, aka Deadpool. Reynolds, still mostly known for his comedy roles in movies like Van Wilder and Just Friends, was cast in the role. The rest is... unintentional comedy history. While the movie made over $370 million at the box office, it received brutal reviews and is often listed as one of the worst superhero movies ever made.

The version of Deadpool that showed up in X-Men Origins didn't wear a red suit and literally had his mouth sewn shut at one point. Reynolds, who was already cast to play Deadpool in a stand-alone film, has since described making the movie as "a very frustrating experience" and the first Deadpool was widely considered an attempt to do right by the original spirit of the character. After its success (and the subsequent celebration of two additional stand-alone Wolverine films), the memory of X-Men Origins is mostly erased from the public consciousness.

But Deadpool 2 goes a step further. After traveling back in time to save characters who died in the film (such as Wilson's fiancé, Vanessa, and the lovable X-Force member Peter), he uses the device to do some emergency continuity surgery. He shows up in this truly awful scene from X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and kills the "old" version of Deadpool by shooting him in the head. Though X-Men Origins: Wolverine isn't exactly considered canon within the larger, extremely convoluted X-Men universe -- since X-Men: Days of Future Past rendered much of it moot -- this feel like the final nail in the coffin. The scene got perhaps the biggest laugh in the screening I attended -- at least until the next time-travel bit.

Green Lantern
Green Lantern | Warner Bros. Pictures

Deadpool shoots Ryan Reynolds and prevents Green Lantern from ever happening

After his appearance in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Reynolds was still clearly eager to play in the leading man superhero sandbox. (Back in 2004, he had also appeared in Blade: Trinity.) With 2011's Green Lantern, he seemed to have finally found his golden ticket to box office nirvana and a long life full of sequels. The film was directed by Martin Campbell, the action filmmaker who rejuvenated James Bond with both Goldeneye and Casino Royale, and it was produced and co-written by Greg Berlanti, who would go on to oversee the CW's ever-expanding Arrowverse. What could go wrong?

Lots, apparently. While the film is better than you remember -- it has an enjoyable bonkers Peter Sarsgaard performance and is certainly more entertaining than X-Men Origins: Wolverine -- it's now best considered as an example of major studio hubris. It failed to launch any sequels and didn't light up the box office. While making the publicity rounds for Deadpool 2, Reynolds has even said that he never watched the finished version of the movie. It's something the actor has in common with the majority of film-goers.

For those who did sit through it, Deadpool 2 will bring back all the painful memories. The run of gags during the credits concludes with a scene where Deadpool time-travels back to 2010 and finds Reynolds at his desk, having just finished reading the script for the Green Lantern. He's psyched; this is finally his big break! Then Deadpool shoots him in the head, splattering his brains across the script and delivering one more meta-joke before the credits finish rolling.

What does this mean for the larger Deadpool-verse and the upcoming X-Force film? With the acquisition of 20th Century Fox by Disney, there's been plenty of speculation about Deadpool eventually joining the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe. By killing off Reynolds before he makes Green Lantern, doesn't time travel logic mean he also prevented 2016's Deadpool from ever being made? As with most things Deadpool-related, it's probably not worth thinking about too seriously. 

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Dan Jackson is a staff writer at Thrillist Entertainment. He's on Twitter @danielvjackson.