WARNING: This post contains MAJOR spoilers for Deadpool 2. Proceed with caution.
X-Force was a huge part of Deadpool 2‘s marketing campaign. The appeal of a team-up is always something that fans look forward to seeing in superhero cinema. X-Force seemed like a great way to introduce a new batch of characters and set up future team-up movies. Heck, that has been a huge appeal for fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe — seeing disparate characters come together and watching them interact with one another.
Deadpool 2 promised to start building its own super ensemble, and when we finally got to see X-Force in action, it was the best scene in the entire movie.
Recently, people have been talking a lot about movies that subvert the expectations of the audience. We’ve heard this phrase used profusely in both positive and negative appraisals when discussing The Last Jedi — just look at the Google search result for “movie subvert expectations” — so this will naturally come into play when discussing the X-Force in Deadpool 2.
Because the movie sets up X-Force only so it can kill them all off in a horrifically gory montage.
Surprise is one of the foundations of comedy, and Deadpool 2 had a masterstroke of marketing misdirection: focus on the assembling of this squad of superpowered misfits. Everyone expected to get to know these characters and speculated how they were going to factor into the plot. We felt that we needed to know everything about them. And the movie decides to use that expectation and make a joke out of it.
When Deadpool 2 and its lead character are twisting the viewer’s knowledge against them like this, it’s firing on all cylinders. And it shows the importance of subverting expectations in these tentpole feature films. And much like The Last Jedi, this subversion acts a way for the movie to analyze itself.
Deadpool was a refreshing spoof of superhero movies, and Deadpool 2 maintains that same parodical mindset. The sequel makes numerous references to other comic book properties. Plus, the production knew that they would be releasing the film shortly after Avengers: Infinity War. To not acknowledge that would take away from the pop culture savvy persona of Deadpool.
So, the filmmakers decided to tease a big team-up movie and then pull the rug out from under the story. While it did so in an overly grotesque way, it also made the audience realize that we don’t need all these extraneous characters to tell this tale. As the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the DC Extended Universe continue to tell stories that require massive ensembles, Deadpool 2 reminds fans that we don’t necessarily need to see every single comic character translated to the big (or small) screen.
While some might not agree, most audiences seem to enjoy the ghastly spectacle of the X-Force death scenes. It’s a bit of a sigh and a chuckle after the massive cast of Avengers: Infinity War. It’s great to see Deadpool really yank the chain of superhero movie tropes like that.
Conflict & Character
But, the most important thing about the death of the X-Force is that it adds another obstacle for Wade Wilson to overcome. His original plan involved utilizing all these different members in order to stop a motorcade and rescue a child. When they are all brutally killed in a series of accidents during their parachute landing, it throws the plot and the character of Deadpool into disarray. He has to recalculate and come up with something new to solve a problem. That’s what you want from good drama: characters forced to think, choose, and react to some dangerous obstruction.
For example, Deadpool had a scene where Wade forgot all the guns he planned to bring to the final showdown. That was a decision made for budgetary reasons — the film couldn’t afford all the special effects action for the climax — but it also caused the characters to improvise. That builds tension and develops character.
Deadpool 2 saw that the best thing for the character of Wade was to showcase his ineptitude as a leader. His entire arc in the film is about learning how to gain the trust of others and be a supportive figure in their lives. It’s worth debating whether or not the film successfully pulls this off, but the X-Force mutilation montage is a pinnacle point in telling this arc. And doing so in an over-the-top fashion is exactly the kind of gonzo storytelling we want out of a Deadpool movie.
At the end of the day, the deaths of the X-Force are just plain funny. But, that humor is bolstered by genuine shock, a sense of meta-humor about cinematic superhero clichés, an escalation in the narrative’s drama, and an exclamation point highlighting the journey of our lead character. It all culminates into the peak comedic sequence in Deadpool 2 and it’s one that will assuredly become one of the most memorable aspects of the film.
Another part of the film that people will definitely be remembering is Domino, the only X-Force member to survive that parachuting accident! Check out this piece about why she has the best powers in the film.