As with most movie commercials that dropped during Super Bowl 2024, the new trailer for Deadpool & Wolverine was only advertised with a teaser. Makes sense considering trailers are usually a couple minutes and Big Game ads are decidedly 30-second spots. But there was a different reason it was only a teaser that aired on television and encouraged fans to watch the full trailer online: The full trailer introduces pegging to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The trailer opens on Wade Wilson’s birthday party. There’s a knock at the door. Wilson (aka Deadpool, played by Ryan Reynolds) answers and is greeted by agents from the Time Variance Authority, the timeline-policing outfit at the center of Loki. As the TVA agents whip out their glowing Time Sticks, Wade retorts “Pegging isn’t new for me, friendo. But it is for Disney.” Then he looks directly at the camera.
We won’t get into pegging here (IYKYK), but suffice to say, Wade’s right. While it might be a run of the mill joke for Deadpool, it’s something new for MCU/Disney offering. Deadpool & Wolverine is the first Deadpool movie to hit theaters (it drops in July) since Disney completed its $52 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox and brought Deadpool and the X-Men into the MCU fold. Doing so, and bringing Wolverine into the mix, was always going to require some sort of timey-wimey retconning—he’s had two movies worth of adventures while the other Avengers were out chasing Thanos—so tying Deadpool to the TVA makes sense from a continuity (and Kang Dynasty) perspective. It’s also a sign that at least someone at Disney knows the MCU needs to be shaken up.
As it stands, Deadpool & Wolverine is the only Marvel movie coming out this year, and the last one—The Marvels—didn’t exactly light the world on fire, despite being a really good time. Many speculated in 2023 that Marvel was losing its way. Introducing a foul-mouthed horny hero, one that builds on the rather queer themes of the Thor movies and Loki, seems to be Disney’s plan for injecting some excitement into the franchise.
When I interviewed Deadpool & Wolverine director Shawn Levy last year, I asked him about bringing some bite to the gentle world of Marvel. When I asked if the movie would be R-rated, he said, “Fuck yes.” When I asked about Deadpool’s identity, he perked up, noting that “the pansexual openness of Deadpool is delightful. … [he’s] so audaciously ahead-of-his-time fluid.” Ideologically, he stood on the side of Disney in being against legislation like Florida’s “Don’t say gay” bill, which has put the Mouse House in a legal standoff with the state’s governor, Ron DeSantis.
It would be easy to write off the queering of the MCU under the auspices of Disney as an empty attempt at “edginess”—one that only winks at LGBTQ+ fans without actually representing them. There is something to the cynical view, but given the blowback Disney is likely to receive for releasing Deadpool & Wolverine during Hot Election Year Summer, the effort appears genuine.