‘Deadpool 3’ Should Be the First Movie in a New, Darker Corner of the MCU

Disney’s acquisition of Fox raises a creative predicament for Marvel Studios. The company now finds itself having to determine the best way to reintroduce audiences to the X-Men and Fantastic Four. But at least Deadpool is essentially ready to enter the Marvel Cinematic Universe as is.

Ryan Reynolds’ performance has, of course, defined the character. So fans expect the MCU will bring Reynolds’ Deadpool back at some point. Less certain is how the character’s R-rated sensibility will fit within the family-friendly MCU. Yet, the best solution might lie in Marvel’s big-screen past.

Ryan Reynolds at MOMA
Ryan Reynolds at MOMA | Getty Images

Marvel launched the ill-fated Marvel Knights series in the late 2000s

Just as the MCU was coming together, Marvel Studios already knew not all of its characters were meant to share the same space. So the company borrowed an approach from the comics. Marvel launched a production arm for standalone projects too dark or violent for the main MCU.

Over time, the Marvel Knights comics included heroes like Black Panther, Daredevil, Black Widow, and The Punisher. The big-screen Marvel Knights only produced two movies, however. Both Punisher: War Zone and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance were both box office disappointments.

It’s a brave new world for comic book movies. R-rated, ultraviolent films like Deadpool, Joker, and Logan are mainstream hits. So Marvel Studios has no reason why it should fear diversification. If nothing else, the MCU needs to adapt in order to survive. And Deadpool is ready to step up.

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‘Deadpool 3’ is the perfect start to an R-rated arm of the MCU

As a result of its theatrical failures, Marvel Knights was shut down. But with the MCU’s current success and a growing roster of superheroes, there’s perhaps no better time to revive the idea. And Deadpool 3 is the ideal launchpad for a new Marvel Knights line-up.

Reynolds’ mutant hero already has two hit movies under his belt. So his popularity is certainly great enough to anchor the new MCU offshoot. Such a distinction would allow Marvel to set audience expectations. The MCU could continue on, and Deadpool and other heroes can embrace an R rating.

Marvel is already set to reclaim several other heroes from Netflix in the next year or so. Once that happens, the company will be looking to add heroes like Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and The Punisher to the MCU. By then, Marvel Knights can be running full steam ahead.

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‘Blade’ could build out the Marvel Knights line-up in the coming years

In addition to those heroes, Marvel Studios already has the perfect follow-up to Deadpool 3. If it does resurrect the Marvel Knights brand (or pursues something similar), the announced Blade reboot is perfect. 1998’s R-rated Blade with Wesley Snipes was Marvel’s first box office success, after all.

The new film — which will star Mahershala Ali — doesn’t currently have a release date. Because production is a while away, the movie could probably hit theaters within a year of Deadpool 3. And Blade’s enduring popularity can further cement Marvel Knights as a vital part of the MCU.