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Fox’s X-Force movie back on track after years in purgatory

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Thanks to Deadpool, naturally

Josh Brolin as Cable in Deadpool 2. 20th Century Fox

X-Force, Fox’s Deadpool and Cable-centric spinoff film set in the X-Men universe, has a new director and writer, pushing the project further along than it’s been in months.

Drew Goddard will write and direct Ryan Reynolds and Josh Brolin in X-Force, Deadline reports. Goddard is best known for writing Ridley Scott’s adaptation of The Martian and creating Netflix’s first Marvel superhero series, Daredevil. Goddard’s appointment is a good sign that Fox is going all in on all things Deadpool.

Prior to Deadpool’s release in February 2016, the superhero was a contentious figure for Fox. It was only because of the overwhelmingly positive response to leaked test footage that Fox went ahead with a project that Ryan Reynolds had spent close to 12 years trying to make. Following the film’s outstanding success — exceeding $780 million worldwide — Fox put all of its focus into the Deadpool franchise.

In April 2016, Fox confirmed it had ordered a sequel to Deadpool, confirming that director Tim Miller and writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick would return. Everything appeared OK on the Deadpool front. Despite a few hiccups down the road that came from Miller departing the project after citing creative differences with Reynolds, Deadpool wasn’t a problematic franchise for the studio.

X-Men, on the other hand, was. In November 2016, The Hollywood Reporter published a report on the issues the X-Men franchise was having at Fox. In that story, the magazine suggested that “in a sign of how much faith it has in the Reynolds-starring franchise, Fox already is planning Deadpool 3, readying a filmmaker search for a storyline that will involve another X-team, X-Force, say sources.”

Despite The Hollywood Reporter’s story, this wasn’t the first time the possibility of an X-Force movie was uttered. In 2013, The Hollywood Reporter broke the news that Jeff Wadlow, who at the time was preparing for the release of Kick-Ass 2, was being tapped by Fox to write an X-Force movie, with potential to direct.

By December, X-Force creator Rob Liefeld, who also created Deadpool, tweeted that he read a complete first draft of the script. In a follow-up tweet, Liefeld acknowledged that a first draft just marked the beginning of the filmmaking process.

Around the same time, X-Men: Apocalypse director Brian Singer tweeted out one single piece of news that changed everything.

Following Singer’s announcement, everything on the X-Force front got pretty quiet. It wasn’t until June 2014 that Liefeld addressed what was happening with the project, responding a curious fan on Twitter.

“Everything changed.” Although Fox never took the X-Force movie off its production slate, the movie was stuck in production purgatory. It was uncertain when the movie would come ou, or how invested Fox was in bringing it to the big screen.

What was going on with X-Force?

In December 2015, we finally got a bit of an answer thanks to a leaked document. A report from ComicBook.com revealed a piece of concept art for the film that artist Gregory Semkow described as “freaking badass.” The art suggested what the potential lineup for the film would look like and, according to Semkow, was based on the script he had seen.

It was evidence that Fox hadn’t given up on X-Force, but between X-Men: Apocalypse and December 2015, another important moment occurred: the leaked Deadpool footage. Again, because the audience reaction was so strong online, Fox couldn’t ignore what was staring them in the face and decided to fast track Deadpool. While that was great for Reynolds and Liefeld, it meant that the X-Force movie would once again have to take a seat on the bench and wait for its turn to be called onto the court.

With the success of Deadpool and a sequel underway, Fox began looking for another way to keep the character alive and on the screen — and that’s when X-Force started to look like a worthy investment.

All of which brings us back to November 2016 and The Hollywood Reporter’s story about Fox’s commitment to the project. Deadpool 2, which is slated to be released on June 1, 2018, will introduce Cable. Fox is hoping that audiences have the same reaction to Cable and Deadpool that they did for the Mouth with a Merc last year. If the success is on par with Deadpool’s than Fox’s X-Force movie may also be fast tracked as Fox tries to cash in on its more successful properties.

For now we know that Goddard is on board to write and direct. Reynolds and Brolin will reprise their roles as Deadpool and Cable. It’s possible that Domino, an original member of X-Force who will make an appearance in Deadpool 2, might also join the film’s roster. Outside of that, there’s not much we do know, but expect to here more about it in the coming months.