Deadpool 2 is an absolute riot for comic book and action movie buffs. But, in between the laughs and cheers for the Merc with a Mouth, there’s one truly surprising and thrilling moment, especially for X-Men fans. The X-Men make a cameo. As in, there’s more than just one mutant who shows up for Deadpool 2, and it’s one of the best cameos in the entire Marvel franchise.
Minor spoilers for Deadpool 2 ahead.
While the proper Marvel Cinematic Universe of Disney likes to mash up all the toys in its toy box, the independent X-Men Universe at Fox hasn’t mingled the X-Men with Deadpool. In the first movie, only Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead appear, and they’re essentially new to the franchise rather than familiar faces from the main X-Men series. But a cameo in Deadpool 2 makes up for lost time, as a bevy of X-Men pack in like sardines in a single frame.
Shortly after the death of Vanessa, Colossus brings Wade to the X-Mansion, to help him grieve and to rebuild him into a real superhero. In a callback to one of the best jokes from the first movie, Wade snarks that the X-Mansion still feels empty. It’s this supposed to be a school? Where the heck are the X-Men? Is Fox being cheap again? (Yes, this is an actual joke in the movie.)
If only Wade Wilson would shut up and turn around. As Wade rants, that’s when the film shows most of the X-Men packed in Xavier’s office, hiding from the Merc. Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Quicksilver (Evan Peters), Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee), and yes, Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) all make an appearance. No, Jean Grey and Mystique aren’t around, but this is still the biggest crossover between the Marvel/Fox properties.
What makes the cameo extra special is that it uses a classic cinematography technique, “deep focus,” to sell the gag. Though there are a half dozen X-Men packed into a small room, director David Leitch and cinematographer Jonathan Sela use deep focus to make sure the X-Men appear sharp and distinguishable, even though they’re in the background. One master of deep focus taught in film schools everywhere is Orson Wells, who used deep focus a lot throughout his 1941 classic Citizen Kane.
By seeing the X-Men clearly, audiences see just how many of them are there. They also see what Deadpool is too self-absorbed to see for himself, which makes a shockingly perfect example of dramatic irony. In a meta-textual way, the cameo is peak Deadpool, as if Deadpool himself is telling his audience, You want X-Men? Here’s your X-Men! And if you’re a film student who needed help passing finals, well, you’re welcome.
Deadpool 2 is in theaters now.