Marvel’s announcement of Phase Four of its cinematic universe at Comic-Con 2019 included just a single mention of its X-Men franchise — and a very brief one at that. In his concluding remarks, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige ran down a bunch of properties that were coming further down the line than the just-revealed Phase Four slate, including Black Panther 2Captain Marvel 2Fantastic Four, and “mutants.” That was it.

After the dreadful performance of Dark Phoenix in theaters this summer, it’s all but a foregone conclusion that Marvel will restart the X-Men characters from scratch whenever they come to the MCU. But that leaves a big question hanging out there: How will they integrate Deadpool, the one part of Fox’s X-universe that continues to be extremely popular and profitable? You would have to be deranged not to continue Deadpool with star Ryan Reynolds, even if it might be hard to explain how he’s now hanging out with Chris Hemsworth and Tom Holland instead of Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy, or why his pal Cable sounds an awful lot like Thanos.

Nobody but Feige and his team at Marvel knows the answer to the question. But Ryan Reynolds sure seems to be hinting when his Merc With a Mouth is coming to Marvel Studios with his latest Instagram image. Ostensibly celebrating the fifth anniversary of the leak of the original Deadpool test footage, it refers to heading into “Phase Five” and also includes a picture of Taika Waititi, director of Thor: Ragnarok and the upcoming Phase Four movie Thor: Love and Thunder.

The anniversary here is very important to Deadpool fans. The test footage had been shot years earlier by Reynolds and director Tim Miller; Fox initially decided not to proceed with the project (the still-fresh memory of Reynolds’ Green Lantern may have had something to do with that). Then in July 2014 the footage leaked online, and fans flipped over how good it looked, and how well it captured the spirit of the character. A few months later, the movie had a green light from Fox and the rest was history.

Who leaked the footage doesn’t really matter. What matters is that Fox is now owned by Disney, and they’re going to have to figure out how to integrate Deadpool into the MCU. This whole thing started with social media posts. Perhaps Reynolds’ picture here is the start of Deadpool’s next phase? Could he pop up in Thor: Love and Thunder?

Gallery — Everything Officially Announced For Marvel’s Phase Four:

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