Trying to make sense of the X-Men timeline is like playing chess with Professor X: You can try, but why bother? The series is packed with so many retcons and resets that the movies make as much sense logically as the real X-Men comics. But with Deadpool 2 and its introduction of the X-Force, it’s curious where (and when) the Merc with a Mouth actually resides in the continuity. And the answer is actually really simple, if you don’t think about it at all.
Without revealing spoilers, the simple answer is that Deadpool 2 takes place after Deadpool from 2016 (duh), which takes place after X-Men: Days of Future Past from 2014. (2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse was set in 1983, and also it was bad so who cares.) What gets dicey is that the time travel business in Days of Future Past complicates what should have been a straightforward “reset,” never mind that reset endings never make sense anyway.
From X-Men in 2000 through The Wolverine in 2013, these movies followed a linear timeline. Even X-Men Origins: Wolverine from 2009 fit in neatly as a prequel. You can watch those first few X-Men movies in a marathon and they connect just fine. But then there’s Days of Future Past.
In Days of Future Past, loosely based on Chris Claremont’s epic storyline in Uncanny X-Men, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) travels back in time to the ‘70s to prevent the production of Sentinels, the giant machines that kill mutants and usher in a dark, oppressive time for all mankind. With the help of young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and young Magneto (Michael Fassbender), he succeeds. But Wolverine also creates a new timeline. Though it’s more peaceful and not as murder-y as the dark timeline in Days of Future Past, it is precisely where the X-Men continuity splits, like cracks in a glass window.
The majority of the recent X-Men stuff take place in this timeline. Deadpool? Yup. Deadpool 2? Yup 2. X-Force? Oh yeah. X-Men: Dark Phoenix? Most likely. The New Mutants? Bet on it. Logan? Yeah, why not. This is why there’s a totally new Colossus, and a totally new Deadpool. It’s a new timeline.
The exceptions are the Fox series The Gifted and FX’s Legion. The Gifted is set in an unknown timeline where the mutants have vanished. The showrunners haven’t explicitly explained the show’s continuity, but it’s not hard to see it set in the “Old Timeline,” the years leading up to the dark future of Days of Future Past before Wolverine fixes it. Season 2 of The Gifted is slated to air this fall.
Legion, just by being Legion, is very difficult to place anywhere. Don’t try.
So when does Deadpool 2 take place? In the post-Days of Future Past timeline, but before Logan when Xavier kills everyone because he got old. Never mind the references to Logan in Deadpool 2; Wade Wilson’s power is being aware of things no one else does. Also? It doesn’t matter.
Deadpool’s core essence is that the superhero genre is awesome because doesn’t have to make complete sense. So long as any given movie or comic book delivers a solid story in which attractive (or ugly!) people throw fireballs at each other, the X-Men can live forever in any timeline.
Deadpool 2 will be released on May 18.