SPOILER ALERT: Warning, this article contains spoilers for both Avengers: Infinity War and Deadpool 2. Proceed at your own risk.
With Deadpool 2 about to knock Avengers: Infinity War off the top of the box office charts, it’s a good time to be a fan of comic book movies. But having watched the two films pretty much back-to-back, we’ve noticed something unexpected. And that’s how similar protagonists Thanos and Cable are. So we’ll start with the obvious. Then dig a bit deeper.
They Both Look Like Josh Brolin
This one is clearly a given, as Goonie Josh Brolin plays both Thanos and Cable. But that doesn’t just mean that — purple CG styling apart — they look similar, possessing Brolin’s strong chin and piercing stare.
It also results in the characters sharing traits that Brolin has brought to a multitude of roles in recent years. Playing guys who haven’t come to play around.
Since his career was kickstarted by the Coen brothers on No Country For Old Men in 2007, Brolin has specialised in playing stoic, no-nonsense tough guys. In the likes of American Gangster, True Grit, Men in Black 3, Gangster Squad, Old Boy and Sicario he’s played characters of few words, who let their actions do the talking.
That’s how he plays Thanos, a Titan who inspires awe or fear in everyone he meets. Thanos chooses his words carefully, using them to either manipulate others into doing his bidding, or to deliver ultimatums with cold detachment. And it works, with Thanos achieving his goal at the end of Infinity War.
Cable also endeavours to say very little in Deadpool 2. When we first meet the character, he appears to be a monosyllabic Terminator-like killing machine who will stop at nothing to murder a child. But as we learn more about Cable, it becomes clear that grief and anger have turned him sober and impassive, with vengeance for his lost wife and child driving the character. When he’s not being drawn into tit-for-tat battles with Deadpool, every one of his words count. And they are delivered with cold determination.
Brolin does affecting work in both roles, giving the characters humanity, and encouraging the audience to empathise with Thanos, and sympathise with Cable. But it’s a pair of performances that are consistent with what the actor has been doing for more than a decade.
The Time Travel Device
In Avengers: Infinity War, Thanos is endeavouring to collect the Infinity Stones to place them in the Infinity Gauntlet, which will result in his becoming all-powerful. And able to end overpopulation by ridding the universe of half of all life. Which in his mind is for the greater good.
One of those gems is the Time Stone, which grants whoever possesses it the power to manipulate time. Doctor Strange has the Stone at the start of the movie, but hands it over to the big bad to save Tony Stark‘s life. Which means as the finale approaches, Thanos can do what he wants with time.
In Deadpool 2, Cable can move through time. Again thanks to a wearable device. Brolin called it a ‘Future Watch’ when critiquing our Cable cosplay in the above video; one which allows the character to travel back and kill the kid who eventually murders his family, as well as many, many more. So again, in his mind, he’s acting for the greater good.
The watch only has two charges, however, meaning that Cable can travel back once, and forward once. But during the film’s post-credit scene, Negasonic Teenage Warhead manages to power up the device, meaning that Cable ends the movie again able to travel through time should he so desire.
Killing the Stakes
There’s a problem with all this time travel malarky, however, especially if you are emotionally invested in both movies. And it isn’t good.
Early in Avengers: Infinity War, a fair few heroes are killed. Loki, Heimdall and Gamora all lose their lives as Thanos endeavours to collect the Stones, while Black Panther, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man, Scarlet Witch, Groot, Star-Lord, and several more disintegrate when he halves the universe.
Deadpool 2 also features its fair share of death. Vanessa is killed at the start of the movie. X-Force members Bedlam, Shatterstar, Zeitgeist, Vanisher and Peter all die on their first mission. And Deadpool loses his life at the end of proceedings, taking a bullet to the heart to save a kid.
But, thanks to those aforementioned time travel devices, no one is really dead in either film.
In Infinity War, to protect the universe, Scarlet Witch breaks the Mind Stone, which kills Vision. Thanos isn’t having that, so he simply uses the Time Stone to reverse the destruction, bringing Vision back to life to complete his Infinity set. And signalling to the audience that he who possesses the Time Stone can bring anyone — including Avengers — back from the dead.
Deadpool 2 goes one better. Cable uses his ‘Future Watch’ to travel back in time where he plants a skee-ball token over Wade Wilson’s heart, thereby saving him when that bullet hits. After Negasonic Teenage Warhead has fixed the device, Deadpool uses it to save Vanessa and Peter. And could do the same with the rest of the X-Force should he choose to.
Which is fun to watch. But means that grieving for the loss of any Deadpool 2 character was for naught. Much like Infinity War, where, having got over the shock of seeing all that destruction, disintegration and death, you quickly realise that anyone can effortlessly be brought back.
So while both devices exist, no one is ever dead for good in either celluloid universe. Meaning that the final similarity between both characters is that they killed the stakes in their respective movies.
Avengers: Infinity War and Deadpool 2 are in cinemas now.