Revisiting the Prospects of Deadpool & Wolverine

Nader Elhefnawy
4 min readMay 17, 2024

Like a great many others in discussing the upcoming return of Deadpool I have written of the film as “Deadpool 3,” not just because this was a lot more convenient than having to write Deadpool & Wolverine over and over again, but because the film actually seemed to me to actually be a Deadpool 3. However, the film’s director Shawn Levy took issue with this, insisting that this is not merely Deadpool 3 but properly speaking, a Deadpool and Wolverine movie that should be referred to accordingly (as Deadpool & Wolverine). I took this for just the usual pretension of film publicity, but since then the studio has released a new trailer for the film — which, I think, really does justify the view of the film as not merely a Deadpool movie with Wolverine in it, but a genuine team-up of the two characters in a movie really about the both of them and the big adventure they have together (Deadpool and Wolverine’s Excellent Adventure!).

Having raised the subject it seems an opportune moment to look back at my prediction for the film’s box office gross from January. Back then I suggested an extreme range for the global gross of $150 million-$700 million, and $400-$450 million the territory in which the film would most likely finish its theatrical run. Given that the box office remains depressed compared to what it was in 2023, never mind the 2015–2019 period, and that this has been significantly connected with franchise fatigue extending in particular to superhero fatigue, I still think caution is in order — the more in as Deadpool and especially X-Men were both traveling a path of diminishing returns commercially. (Recall the reception X-Men: Dark Phoenix got?) Going by the more easily quantifiable factors my conclusion still seems to me to be sound.

However, there are also the less easily quantifiable factors that undeniably matter. First and foremost it seems to me that there is a real measure of affection out there for both these characters, and for Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman in these roles, and plausibly for the idea of a team-up between the two — and that this may all be the stronger for the years that have passed since audiences last saw either of them. I will add that the expletive-filled trailer for the film promises to “deliver the goods” here with respect to both action and the Deadpool brand of humor, while the makers of the film seem to be making a real effort to appeal to casual viewers ( assuring them that this is one Marvel movie for which people will “not have to do homework”, a requirement that was probably a liability for movies like Dr. Strange 2 and Captain Marvel 2), while at the same time offering something to hardcore fans (like the fact that, as this trailer confirms, Wolverine will for the first time ever appear in the costume from the comics and cartoons). All significant points in the film’s favor, that going by the Internet chatter seem to be mattering with the audience, the movie is also likely to benefit from the same thing that Top Gun 2 did back in 2022 — weaker than usual competition. (It is symbolic that this summer actually opens with Ryan Gosling in an adaptation of The Fall Guy.) This seems all the more the case in that last year’s Barbie and Oppenheimer showed how a late summer release can really clean up, especially if what came before did not get theatergoers too excited.

Taking this into account I feel more bullish about the film. Do I think that it will take the Marvel Cinematic Universe back to its Phase Three glory days? No, that is more than any one movie can do, especially at this stage of things, with the market sharply contracted from what it was in 2017–2019, and this particular movie some way off the main line of the franchise.* Do I think it will make a billion dollars the way the first Deadpool did (adjusted for inflation)? That seems to me a very tall order for the same reasons. But looking at the numbers I presented earlier I think that as things stand now I would be less surprised if the film went over the $450 million mark than if it undershot the $400 million mark; that, in fact, a gross approaching or even reaching $700 million is more plausible than I would have thought three months ago. Pretty respectable these days, even with the hefty reported budget it might just let the film turn a respectable nine figure profit, and in the process restore some of the luster to the Marvel brand, not taking us back to 2019 but giving them a chance to keep what is probably the best they can hope for, a franchise that may continue to be a reliable (if more modest) earner even after its peak has passed.

* In 2017–2019 North American ticket sales stood at 3.5 per capita. In 2023 they were more like 2.2 per capita, a 38 percent drop, and 2024 will be lucky to match it.

Originally published at https://raritania.blogspot.com.

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Nader Elhefnawy

Nader Elhefnawy is the author of the thriller The Shadows of Olympus. Besides Medium, you can find him online at his personal blog, Raritania.