Does Deadpool exist in the X-Men Universe?
Since Marvel launched its very ambitious and very successful cinematic universe, superhero movies have been obsessed with timelines and continuity between each entry.
For the most part, they've done pretty well through the past decade, but things get a bit confusing when it gets to both Spider-Man and X-Men—two Marvel properties that were purchased by different studios and left out of the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Because of these corporate hurdles, it's hard to know exactly where Deadpool and Logan fit within the rest of this larger timeline and universe, if at all.
Since Deadpool and Logan were both made and owned by Twentieth Century Fox, fans speculated that the two movies existed in the same universe, with Logan taking place in 2029 and Deadpool a few years before that. Last year, a Redditor posted a theory about why this would fit, given the emptiness of the X-Men mansion and the Logan narrative that all the heroes had died:
deadpool takes place a little before Logan. that's why the only x-men we see are colossus and negasonic whatever. they're the only ones left. also why nega jokes about the mansion being destroyed--because it had only just been rebuilt after Xavier's meltdown. this also explains the finale in deadpool. the wreckage was left over the meltdown.
finally, that's why angel and Francis are trying to make new mutants. Dr. rice spells it out: they eliminated natural mutants so they could make their own. of course, having seen Logan, we know Francis and Angel weren't the ones in charge. they were employees of the alkali-transigen corporation. at that stage, they were still using fairly unsophisticated methods; it was as a result of deadpool's rampage that they "went legit". as a multinational pharmaceutical corporation, it would be way harder for someone like deadpool to set them back.
Certainly there are a few overall problems with this theory—specifically that Professor X is, as far as we know, normal in the Deadpool movies. But the rest of this does theoretically check out. Another theory, which is probably not true, but fun nonetheless posits that Deadpool is a comic book universe within the "real" Logan universe:
The X-Men comics in Logan are based on real people and real events, although they have been twisted and changed to the point where people like Xavier and Logan who lived the events can't even recognize them in the comics. The X-Men of the comics have some major changes from the real ones, all of the them (including Wolverine) wear colourful uniforms, Rogue can fly, Colossus is huge and Gambit a mutant from the 80s is contemporary with them.
In Deadpool, Colossus is distinctly different from the Colossus of the actual X-Men movies in every way, but he does resemble his character shown in the comics. Wade Wilson a mercenary who was active during the 80s and connected to the Weapon X program is instead placed in the 2010s as a contemporary of the X-Men, much the same way that the Gambit character in the comics is moved in time from his real world counterpart.
The big thing though is Nega Sonic Teenage Warhead and what she represents. In Deapool the school is clearly active and is presented in such a way that you are to assume there are other young mutants there alongside her. However in the world of the X-Men movies, no new mutant has been born since the early 2000s when Zander Rice and Transigen deployed their targeted gene therapy. Nega Sonic Teenage Warhead is simply too young to exist.
So I conclude that the Deadpool movies and the world they inhabit is actually the semi-fictionalized world of the X-Men comics that exist within the real world of the X-Men/Wolverine movies. Deadpool is a comic character loosely based on a real world mercenary from the 80s.
That would explain many of the meta jokes, fourth wall breaks, and knowledge of the comic book universe.
When I interviewed him last week, I asked Deadpool 2 director David Leitch about where he sees the film fitting with the greater Marvel universe, and he has read your theories:
I hope that in the future Deadpool continues to be creative and irreverent and finds some bold choices about where it exists. There’s a lot of obvious ones on the table that people speculate about, you know, the Logan-Deadpool theory and things like that. And by the way that would be effing amazing.
But I also think there’s a lot of really fun, compelling ideas that we haven’t thought of yet. Deadpool in space. I don’t know—you can put him everywhere. If you look in the canon, there are whacky installments of Deadpool. Cross-genre stuff would be fun with Deadpool. Deadpool pirates. A Deadpool WWII movie. I think the opportunities are endless, and it’s just something that speaks to Ryan and the creatives involved. We can do this, so let’s do this.
Part of the genius of Deadpool is that the series doesn't care where it exists in the greater timeline. This movie—at its heart—is a satire of the entire genre, one that's not afraid to randomly put cameos from the entire X-Men squad into a scene just to send the fanboys nuts.
Let's take the new movie for example, when Deadpool repeatedly references Wolverine's death in Logan—knowledge that would completely throw off any sort of coherent timeline (although the time travel twist at the end could explain that).
But that's part of the meta joke of Deadpool. Timelines don't matter! So, maybe it does exist in the Logan universe, maybe it exists in the MCU. Hell, even Deadpool knows the DC universe is out there. But don't expect there to ever be an answer that's not a sarcastic dick joke.