SPOILER ALERT: Warning, this article contains spoilers from Deadpool 2. Proceed at your own risk.
The school — The Essex House For Mutant Rehabilitation — is revealed to be a hellish institution where young mutants are experimented upon and tortured. The name Essex is not unfamiliar to X-Men fans nor the X-Men Universe.
What’s in a Name?
The surname first appeared in the post-credits scene in X-Men: Apocalypse — see clip above. Following Wolverine’s rampage at the Weapon X facility, a mysterious group of men are sent to retrieve files, x-rays, and blood samples. The vials of blood are then placed into a briefcase that carries the Essex Corp logo. Weapon X was doing research on mutants on behalf of the secret organization. (Editor’s note: Deadpool is a product of the Weapon X program.)
In Deadpool 2, mutants are researched upon at Essex House under the orders of a nameless headmaster. Firefist ends up sparing the headmaster, but Dopinder kills him by running him over in his cab. It’s unclear if the headmaster is Essex himself, or if he reports to a higher — and more sinister — authority.
The name in both films isn’t arbitrary. Essex is associated with mutant torture and experimentation, to what end is yet unknown.
In the comics, Nathaniel Essex is the real name of Mister Sinister, a villain obsessed with mutant genes — specifically those belonging to the Summers bloodline, which includes Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Cable.
Here’s where things get a little complicated.
Sinister creates a clone of Jean Grey named Madelyne Pryor, who has a child with Cyclops. That child ends up to be Cable, who appears in Deadpool 2. Cable’s parents are not referenced in the sequel, but it’s interesting that the filmmakers have planted the seed of his origin by referencing Essex. It’s a passing reference, but future films in the X-Men franchise may dive into the connection deeper.
What’s to Come
2019’s X-Men: Dark Phoenix will depict Jean Grey’s descent into madness. For fans familiar with the Dark Phoenix Saga from the comics or the adaptation in X-Men: The Last Stand, Grey is consumed in the end. Her death leads to the introduction of Madelyne Pryor (via Sinister’s machinations) into Cyclops’ life … and the birth of Cable.
Another entry point may be the undated Gambit spin-off film. In the comics, Gambit helps gather the Marauders, a group of mutant hunters who work for Mister Sinister. Gambit is involved in the massacre of the Morlocks, a society of underground mutants. Gambit’s involvement in the massacre is one of his closest kept secrets and leads to his ejection from the X-Men after its revealed.
It remains unseen if Essex — who up until this point has been referenced by name only — will have a role in either film or future projects, but odds are all the references dropped are leading to something bigger. Could Sinister be the X-Men film franchise’s Thanos?
Deadpool 2 opens in theaters May 18.