Spoilers ahead, though they're really just of the fun, harmless variety.
Deadpool, that self-referential asshole, winks at the audience so much in his new sequel, out this weekend, that you think his eyes might fall out. Though, to be honest, that wouldn't be the worst bodily harm inflicted on the indestructible anti-superhero in the movie. (Does his body get cut in half? Yes, indeed it does.)
Deadpool's schtick means for the most part a whole lot of jabs at Marvel movies and Ryan Reynolds's career choices, but in some cases it also takes the form of wild celebrity cameos—including a doozy of one involving one of the biggest stars on the planet.
In Deadpool 2, we catch up with cancer-patient-turned-unkillable-reluctant-hero Wade Wilson, who's dealing with the death of his girlfriend Vanessa (Morena Baccarin)—which in Wade's case involves peeing on himself on a barstool and blowing himself up. He finds the will to fight again when called upon to deal with a troublesome mutant kid from New Zealand (Julian Dennison of the excellent Hunt for the Widlerpeople). Along the way some very, very familiar faces pop up.
If you want to save the surprises for the theater, read no further. Otherwise, you've been warned. Onto the cameos.
Blink, and you might miss Brad Pitt (!!!).
You read that right. For literally a second, possibly less, the actual Brad Pitt appears on the screen. Seriously, though, you need to pay attention or you'll miss him.
Here's the deal: Deadpool assembles a squad he calls the X-Force to go and rescue wayward teen Russell Collins. Among them is Vanisher, a mutant whose special power is invisibility. As in you literally cannot see him. (Ha ha.) That is, until things go horribly wrong.
Deadpool plans a heist that involves jumping out of a helicopter during high winds. Almost every member of the X-Force is killed in some graphic way. And when Vanisher lands on and gets electrocuted by a telephone wire, he flickers onscreen for a second. There's no mistaking it: It's Benjamin Button himself. The shot of Brad Pitt's beautiful face lasts barely a moment. Blink, he's gone. In true Deadpool form, it's a joke about a joke: The non-corporeal Vanisher was funny enough; that he's actually one of the most recognizable actors in the world is just icing on the cake.
For the true obsessives, there's also a little bit of inside baseball to the casting. At one point, there was talk swirling that Pitt was going to play Deadpool antagonist Cable, a part which ultimately went to Josh Brolin. Last year, director David Leitch told ComicBook.com: "We had a great meeting with Brad, he was incredibly interested in the property. Things didn't work out schedule-wise. He's a fan, and we love him, and I think he would've made an amazing Cable." Apparently, enough of a fan to lend his image for a goof. Is it coincidence that his demise is caused by a cable? Probably not.
James McAvoy and the current X-Men cast deign to show up, very briefly.
One of the persistent Deadpool questions is: So where are the rest of the X-Men? Whenever Wade visits the X-Mansion, the more famous mutants seem to be missing. In the first movie he quips, "It's almost like the studio couldn't afford another X-Man." It's assumed they are off saving the world from total destruction or something. But Deadpool 2 has solved the mystery of where Professor X and the rest of the gang are. Turns out: They are all right there, just ignoring this nonsense.
In the movie, Wade is dragged back to the mansion for rehabilitation by his steely Russian pal Colossus. He's roaming the halls using a pilfered wheelchair and blabbering on. When all of sudden, there's a quick cutaway shot to see who he's bothering. The camera reveals Nicholas Hoult's Beast closing the door to another room where Evan Peters's Quicksilver and James McAvoy's Professor X are having a meeting and looking slightly perturbed. Full disclosure: There may have been more mutants in the shot, but it goes by so fast that it's hard to catch them all.
The rest of the X-Force could have been the an amazing alt-Avengers.
As we mentioned, Deadpool puts together an ill-fated lineup of would-be heroes. In fact, the only one that survives is Zazie Beetz's Domino, whose curiously vague superpower is that she's very lucky. Aside from Brad Pitt, the other actors playing the not-so-lucky crew members get a little more screen time than cameos often warrant, but they also disappear sooner than expected. Do they count? That's up to you. Their ranks include Pennywise himself, a.k.a. Bill Skarsgård, as the acid-spitting Zeitgeist; Lewis Tan, who is no stranger to superheroics with an appearance on Marvel's Iron Fist TV series, as alien Shatterstar; Brooklyn Nine-Nine's Terry Crews turns up as Bedlam; and Twitter and Catastrophe star Rob Delaney appears as a dude named Peter who just wants to help out.
Hugh Jackman, kind of.
Okay, so the greatest showman didn't really come back from the dead in Deadpool 2, but his image appears quite a bit. Due to the fact that Ryan Reynolds first played a disappointing (and occasionally mouthless) incarnation of "the merc with the mouth" in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, this Deadpool's got a little bit of a beef with the clawed dude. So the movie opens with a figurine of Wolverine's death scene from last year's Logan and closes with a moment in which new-Deadpool pays a visit to old-Deadpool and Origins-era Wolvie. It's all so... Deadpool.
Update May 20:Turns out we missed a cameo, but in all fairness to us this that was sort of the point. In an interview with Vulture, screenwriter Paul Wernick divulged that Matt Damon was in there disguised as one of two rednecks who are having a pretty gross conversation about bathroom habits when Cable suddenly appears. (The other is character actor Alan Tudyk.) Damon—who also popped up in Thor: Ragnarok—is credited (per Screen Rant) as Dickie Greenleaf, throwing a Talented Mr. Ripley joke onto this deception.