3 on 3: Is ‘X-Force’ a way to bring Deadpool back to the big screen?

Friday’s news that “Kick-Ass 2” writer/director Jeff Wadlow has been hired by 20th Century Fox to pen an “X-Men” spin-ff caught many fans off guard. It wasn’t that no one would expect Fox to try and take advantage of their rights to Marvel’s massive mutant universe, but “X-Force”? That’s a surprise.

If you’re a casual superhero movie fan or haven’t read comics since the ’80s (it’s possible), X-Force was originally a popular Uncanny X-Men spinoff in the ’90s that was centered around Cable, the grown up son of Jean Grey and Cyclops from an alternate future (go with it), and other X-Men characters who there just wasn’t enough time for in the flagship title . However, Deadpool, Psylocke and, more recently, Fantomex have been signature members of the group . However, there has been a number of other X-Force books with different lineups which means the movie could pretty much be whatever Wadlow, the producers and studios want it to be.

Keeping that in mind, here are three questions about the project that HitFix’s movie team took a few minutes to consider.

Is there a creative opportunity here or is Fox just trying to hold on to Marvel characters?

Gregory Ellwood: You could argue that the continuing popularity of the “X-Men” films has proven there are a lot more stories featuring our favorite mutants that moviegoers are interested in . But as a superhero group and title “X-Force” has always been just another X-team . What’s the real point of doing an X-Force title? How are they really that different? Recently, Marvel produced a very dark and bloody “Uncanny X-Force” title that was very different from the other X-books (and critically acclaimed to boot), but there is no way you’ll ever see this incarnation on the big screen. Currently there are two books with “X-Force” in the title: “Cable and X-Force” (yawn) and an almost all-ladies crew in a relaunched “Uncanny Force” book. So, the long and the short of it is that Fox can use “X-Force” to mean just about anything in terms of new “X-Men” movies . Unless the producers and screenwriter Jeff Wadlow have an amazing idea up their sleeves this really does seem like another opportunity to hold on to characters such as Deadpool and Psylocke.

Drew McWeeny: It’s a bit of both, frankly. Knowing that they own all of the various mutant-themed books, I’d like to see Fox start to experiment a bit. I’ve always been partial to the ’80s version of “The New Mutants,” personally, and if I could see the Demon Bear storyline on film with a great FX house bringing Warlocke to life, I’d be mighty happy. I’m less familiar with “X-Force,” but I’d like to see a new group of characters front and center. It’s also a chance for the studio to try introducing Deadpool again before they commit to an entire movie focused only on The Merc With A Mouth. It would be cool to see them bring Cable and Psylocke to the screen now as well. I know Wolverine is a traditional member of the team, but at this point, I’ve got to imagine that Hugh Jackman’s looking to take some time off from the intense physical demands of the role, and I think if he’s in the film, it becomes about him. For the sake of the group, I think it’s important he sit the film out and let some younger talent take center stage.

Kristopher Tapley: Hmm, that’s a curveball question for me. I really don’t think in those terms but I imagine it would be smart if you’re a studio looking to maintain a grip on characters to pivot to another property that includes them, rather than making the actual “X-Men” franchise too saturated or stale (not that they aren’t already in danger of that right now, which maybe is part of the thinking, too). But I think there is definitely a creative opportunity in the idea of a Black Ops mutant squad with modest ties to the original franchise (assuming, like the current iteration of the team, Wolverine is leading it — and assuming Hugh Jackman is ready to play Logan an EIGHTH time).

Will an “X-Force” movie bring Deadpool back to theaters?

Gregory Ellwood: Count on it. Word is the studio could lose the rights to the popular Marvel character in a few years if they don’t use him . Deadpool was a member of that bloody “Uncanny X-Force” team so there is certainly a connection . And considering the difficulties Fox has had in moving forward with a solo film (Ryan Reynolds’s career downturn after “Green Lantern” didn’t help), this is a much safer way to see if the Merc with a Mouth can win moviegoers over for a full two hours.

Drew McWeeny: I think Fox knows how important that character is, and they seem determined to figure it out. The big question right now is whether or not Ryan Reynolds will be asked back to play the part. I don’t think he claimed the part in a way that is indisputable in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” so if they recast it, I don’t think anyone would be heartbroken except, perhaps, for Reynolds and his agents. But if he does end up playing the role again, it’s time to do a mid-stream adjustment. Right now, Deadpool is having one of his strongest runs in years in the comics, and Fox has to realize that the potential is still there to turn this into a franchise that’s unlike anything else they’ve done with the Marvel characters so far.

Kristopher Tapley: It would be odd to have X-Force without Deadpool. Less so Cable, but I’d love to see both involved. The “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” vision of Deadpool was — and I don’t think I’m out of line here — a bit of a disgrace. Nice try making the guy’s name matter but…seriously? That said, the whole “X-Men” movie timeline, as fragile as it seems and as contradictory as it seems, actually has a shot at being held together and they could bring Ryan Reynolds into this if they wanted to do the legwork that would explain it. It wouldn’t HAVE to be an entirely new iteration. Just, you know, get it right this time.

Which “X-Force” member would you most be interested in seeing on screen?

Gregory Ellwood: I’m still confused about whether he’s a mutant or not, but Fantomex could make French burglars with three-brains very, very popular. How you explain him quickly in the context of a film is unclear (and having another character always wearing a full-face mask like Deadpool is problematic), but boy he could be fun.

Drew McWeeny: As an unabashed fan of “Danger: Diabolik,” there is something about Fantomex that I find completely fascinating. He’s more than just a cool visual, though. Since he originally served as a sort of super-Sentinel, the upcoming “Days of Future Past” might be a perfect opportunity to introduce the character before seeing him switch sides. He was part of the Weapon X program that has been such a key part of Fox’s “X-Men” films so far, and that would make it easy to explain where he came from. Then again, now that Jean Grey is not part of the line-up, adding Psylocke to the roster would fill a necessary spot. Besides, we could always use more female superheroes, and she would be a strong addition to the team. Cable is so different than anyone we’ve seen so far that it could be really exciting to see this hardened soldier taking the fight to anyone who threatens mutant-kind.

Kristopher Tapley: I love the Fantomex idea but personally, it’s all about Psylocke for me. She’s been my favorite X-girl since I was a kid and I actually thought they had a great way into introducing her with the ninja-laden spectacle of “The Wolverine.” Alas, they didn’t seize that opportunity, though they certainly have a character in that film they could shoehorn into a Psylocke-like role if they wanted to. But yeah, gimme the purple pain-dishing princess, please.

Agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts below.