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Can ‘Deadpool 2’ give birth to an R-rated X-Force franchise?

Deadpool. (Courtesy of 20th Century Fox.)
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“Deadpool 2,” due in theaters in early 2018, could give 20th Century Fox another X-Men movie franchise if the studio plays its cards right.

Lost in all the recent drama of changing directors (“Deadpool” director Tim Miller has been replaced by “John Wick’s” David Leitch) and possible differences of opinion on what the sequel’s budget should be (star Ryan Reynolds is said to want it closer to “Deadpool’s” $58 million, while rumors had Miller wanting $100 million-plus) is that “Deadpool 2” could be a bridge to a new X-Force movie franchise.

In a post-credit scene at the end of “Deadpool,” Reynolds name-dropped Cable, creating some X-Force buzz and excitement for fans. We know that classic X-Force characters Cable and possibly Domino are set to appear alongside Wade Wilson/Deadpool in “Deadpool 2″ — a logical decision given the trio’s comic book origins connection.

Both Deadpool and Domino made their Marvel Comics debut in 1991’s “New Mutants” No. 98, with both mutants sharing the cover of that issue with Cable (who debuted in Marvel Comics back in 1990). Cable was created by Louise Simonson and Rob Liefeld. Liefeld co-created Deadpool and Domino with writer Fabian Nicieza.

Cable, the son of Scott Summers/Cyclops and Madelyne Pryor (a clone of X-Men member Jean Grey) from the future, and Domino, a mutant with luck-based powers, would go on to form X-Force, one of the most popular comic books of the early ’90s.

Cable is a time traveler in the comics and that could give a clue to “Deadpool 2’s” plot. But regardless of the storyline, if Cable and Domino are cast correctly and have even half the appeal of Deadpool, there’s no reason to believe Fox can’t squeeze a new movie franchise out of these two characters’ highly anticipated appearances.

Fox at the moment has the advantage of “X-Men: Apocalypse” not being a franchise-killer. “Apocalypse” kept the X-Men franchise going enough to make fans hungry for expansion.

“Deadpool’s” financial success with an R-rating has already had after-effects. The last Wolverine movie, “Logan,” coming out March 3 and starring Hugh Jackman, will be rated R — a move that probably wouldn’t have been approved without “Deadpool’s” surprise box-office numbers ($783 million worldwide).

“Deadpool 2,” which will surely be rated R as well, also creates more potential for an X-Force series. That’s because X-Force comics have frequently had a little more edge than your standard X-Men comics, especially when the series was revived by Marvel Comics from 2008-2012 and the team went on missions so dark and lethal that whatever transpired had to stay off the books.

How Deadpool survived the ’90s, a decade when most new comics superheroes faded away

That’s exactly the type of tone a R-rated X-Force film franchise could embrace. It could be the perfect complement to the main X-Men franchise, which has to keep things PG-13.

The star of "Deadpool," Ryan Reynolds, says that Marvel's new anti-hero movie is redefining the superhero genre. (Video: Reuters)

Of course the most important thing is getting Cable and Domino cast, which hasn’t happened yet. And this is still a “Deadpool” sequel. We’ll have to wait and see if the Merc with a Mouth gives Cable and Domino enough time to shine on screen for fans to demand an encore.

Read more:

‘X-Men: Apocalypse’: Sure, critics have hated it. But here are 5 reasons you should see it.