Bill Skarsgård’s literally short-lived appearance as Deadpool 2’s Zeitgeist is a nod to the character’s comic origin. Ryan Reynolds had something of a storied history with comic book adaptations before taking on his dream role as Deadpool. He played vampire slayer Hannibal King in 2004’s Blade: Trinity, but while his quippy character was a dry run for Wade Wilson, the sequel was poorly received. He also took on the title role in 2011’s Green Lantern, which was meant to launch a new franchise but underperformed critically and commercially.
Reynolds has taken many, hilarious potshots at the movie in the years since too. R.I.P.D was another expensive misfire, and while he got to play a version of Wade Wilson/Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the poor treatment of the character has become infamous. 2016’s Deadpool proved that Reynolds’ persistence in getting the film a greenlight was worth it, as both the movie and its 2018 sequel were enormous hits, and despite being rated R, were the most successful entries in the X-Men franchise.
Trailers for Deadpool 2 teased the title character assembling the X-Force, a famous team of superheroes from the comics. The sequel’s version of the group includes Domino, Bedlam and Axel Cluney, AKA Zeitgeist. Playing by Pennywise star Bill Skarsgård, Zeitgeist’s mutant power is that he can spew acidic bile on foes. The group is assembled to save Julian Dennison’s Russell from a prison convoy, but nearly all of the group are abruptly killed due to a strong wind during the parachute drop. Zeitgeist suffers one of the bleakest deaths, which nods back to his comic debut in X-Force #116.
In Deadpool 2, Skarsgård’s Zeitgeist lands in a wood chipper, and while Rob Delaney’s Peter tries to save him, Zeitgeist accidentally spits acid on Peter and kills him too. In his first comic appearance in 2001, Axel helped form the X-Force, a celebrity team of heroes. He later conspired to have most of the X-Force team members killed on a mission, though he was accidentally caught in the crossfire and killed too. His final moments involved remembering the name of a girl he accidentally disfigured when he was a teenager, where he spat bile on his face after making out.
X-Force’s Zeitgeist was left guilt-ridden by this and especially for not even remembering her name, though it comes back to him before his death. This makes the shocking demise of Deadpool 2’s Zeitgeist all the funnier since it calls back to his brief time in the X-Force comic. That said, Zeitgeist was later revealed to have survived his seemingly fatal wounds, and later formed the X-Cellent team.