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The Deadpool 3 Trailer Snuck In A Secret Punisher Connection With A Twist

Hugh Jackman's Wolverine is back in style for the newest "Deadpool 3" trailer, and plenty of other familiar faces are joining the party. Marvel fans may have freaked out upon seeing Ant-Man's skull in the teaser, but anyone who looked down on the ground would've seen a cavalcade of foes from older Marvel flicks. On the right-hand side of the image, there's a man dressed in a striped shirt who's clearly the Russian, a villain from Marvel Comics who has a live-action appearance in 2004's "The Punisher."

However, there's a slight wrinkle to his role in "Deadpool & Wolverine." Kevin Nash portrayed the antagonist in 2004, but a recasting has been made for the Marvel Cinematic Universe's next installment. Actor and stunt performer Billy Clements has taken over the part, as he posted a screenshot of the Ant-Man skull scene on Instagram while stating that his character made it into the trailer. 

Given how "Deadpool & Wolverine" deals heavily with the Multiverse and the Time Variance Authority, it's a safe bet this is a variant of the Russian that Cassandra Nova (Emma Corrin) has recruited to her side. But what's her evil plan, and how heavily will all these minor villains factor into the story?

Cassandra Nova has an army of C-list supervillains

We've known for a while that "Deadpool & Wolverine" will be a who's who of Marvel film characters from before "MCU" was the hottest buzzword in Hollywood. The first "Deadpool 3" trailer showcases Pyro (Aaron Stanford) for the first time in 18 years after causing chaos in the 20th Century Fox X-Men universe. The second trailer has brought numerous other villains into the mix, with the Russian only being the beginning.

The most recognizable antagonists are closest to the helmet's entrance. Azazel, played by Jason Flemyng in "X-Men: First Class," can be found standing near the

Russian. Meanwhile, Lady Deathstrike, portrayed by Kelly Hu in "X2: X-Men United," is on the other side, gazing toward the behemoth skeletal structure of the fallen Avenger. We can also make an educated guess that Toad, played by Ray Park in "X-Men," is the hunched-over figure in the group, even after getting electrocuted by Storm (Halle Berry) and seemingly dying in that movie.

However, a good explanation exists for how Toad and others can appear in "Deadpool 3." If they're in the Void, they're all probably from pruned timelines, meaning these characters may not be precisely who they were in the X-Men films audiences have already seen. It could explain why the Russian looks different from his 2004 outing. Even if they're all variants, they're bound to give viewers a serious case of déjà vu when "Deadpool & Wolverine" comes out in theaters on July 26.