8 Times Ryan Reynolds Played The Smartass Before Deadpool

It finally happened, folks. After years of hoping and praying, Ryan Reynolds finally donned the black and red suit of Wade Wilson, a.k.a Deadpool, and utterly amazed the entire movie-going world with his portrayal of the R-rated character. Between his razor sharp wit and his embodiment of the character’s immense physicality, Deadpool really does seem like the role Reynolds was born to play.

We don’t mean that facetiously, by the way; Ryan Reynolds really does seem tailor-made for the role of Wade Wilson. His entire career has been building toward this moment, and we have watched over time as so many of his characters have prepared him for Deadpool. Ryan Reynolds has showcased his ability to deliver comedy, drama and visceral action since the 1990s, and in many ways he actually played the smartass Deadpool long before he actually played Deadpool. We’ve taken it upon ourselves to compile a list of times Ryan Reynolds' characters exhibited classic Deadpool traits. Check out the list below and tell us what you think of the man who has always seemed destined to become the Merc with the Mouth.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

I know what you’re thinking, and before you say anything, let me make one thing perfectly clear: the character Ryan Reynolds portrayed in X-Men Origins: Wolverine was not Deadpool. Wade Wilson? Yes. Deadpool? Absolutely not. However, while his character’s appearance in the later portions of the film has become universally maligned, his early scenes in the film actually showed a great deal of potential. Although somewhat neutered when compared to what we got in the Deadpool solo film, Reynolds’ Wade Wilson still showcased his quick wit, morbid sense of humor, and damn fine proficiency with a pair of swords all the way back in 2009. We’re just glad FOX made the right call and gave the character back to him seven years later.

Blade: Trinity

Blade: Trinity is a dark, somber, and all around humorless affair at just about every turn. Honestly, Ryan Reynolds’ Hannibal King is the movie’s only saving grace, considering the fact that Wesley Snipes really shuffles through the film like a zombie – rather than a badass vampire. Much like Wade Wilson, Hannibal King is a fast-talking badass with a penchant for blades and guns, and his moments to shine in the film by far shine the brightest. While Blade: Trinity ultimately didn’t garner much fanfare when it hit theaters, Reynolds credits the movie with getting him the role of Wade Wilson, and we think at the end of the day that’s what’s most important.

Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle

Despite the fact that he’s only in the movie for one quick scene, Ryan Reynolds reunited with his Van Wilder co-star Kal Penn and completely stole the show in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle – providing by far one of the best cameos in the movie. Credited only as "Male Nurse," Reynolds imbues his minor character with just the right amount of melodrama, immaturity, and hints of sexual deviancy that would eventually go on to become staples of his Wade Wilson over a decade later. Even with his face hidden behind a mask, he manages to deliver hilarious lines with surgical (pun intended), deadpan precision – sounds like Deadpool to me.

Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place

Although it’s not a film role, that doesn’t make it any less important to the formation of Ryan Reynolds' Wade Wilson persona. Reynolds’ tenure on the wildly popular sitcom Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place paved the way for his eventual silver screen success. His character Berg was the show's hilarious rake – a quick-witted lothario who provided most of the show’s best laughs. Although Reynolds had numerous acting credits to his name prior to this series, it’s this role where we as an audience started to see him come into his own as the fast talking womanizer he would become known for in the years to come.

Just Friends

Amid all of Deadpool’s success, people seem to have forgotten one very important thing: the film isn’t just an amazing superhero story, it’s an amazing romantic comedy, as well. Ryan Reynolds has proven time and time again that he has a pedigree for rom-coms rivaling that of any other actor working today, and – up until Deadpool – his crowning achievement in the genre came in the form of Just Friends. Playing the role of high school fat kid turned successful record executive, Reynolds proved with Just Friends that he could play a smartass while still selling a genuine romance story – even hidden beneath pounds and pounds of prosthetics.

The Change-Up

It's been quite a while since the body-switch comedy was done properly, but then along came The Change-Up and revitalized the concept. The film is not only hilarious, but it contains even more evidence that Ryan Reynolds has always been destined to portray the snarky Wade Wilson we came to know and love in this year’s Deadpool. Reynolds’ portrayal of Mitch represents a strong foil to wholesome family man Dave (Jason Bateman); he’s rude, crass, and an all-around douchebag at every possible opportunity. However, Reynolds still somehow manages to charm the pants off of the entire audiences – as well as most women he encounters in the film.


Anyone who has ever worked a customer service job will instantly recognize and sympathize with the characters in 2005’s Waiting… However, it’s Ryan Reynolds' portrayal of Monty that elevates the film from realistically depressing to hilariously absurd. While Monty is a douchebag who almost certainly deserves to be in prison due to his affinity for underage girls, Reynolds injects the character with so much charisma that he comes off as effortlessly endearing, while still maintaining a certain layer of reprehensibility. Reynolds’ take on Deadpool strikes a perfect balance between hero and asshole, and the seeds of this characterization could be seen in the actor’s career as far back as Waiting…

Van Wilder

Prior to the massive critical and commercial success of Deadpool, few would have argued against the notion that Ryan Reynolds’ magnum opus occurred when he portrayed the titular character in National Lampoon’s Van Wilder. Portraying an endlessly charismatic twenty-something playboy, Reynolds became the hero of an entire generation of college students who wanted to stand up for the little guy, get the girl, and never grow up. Van Wilder proved essential to Ryan Reynolds’ career and paved the way for Deadpool by showing audiences all around the world that he had the charisma to charm the shit out of just about anyone while maintaining a certain – and essential – childlike sensibility.

Conner Schwerdtfeger

Originally from Connecticut, Conner grew up in San Diego and graduated from Chapman University in 2014. He now lives in Los Angeles working in and around the entertainment industry and can mostly be found binging horror movies and chugging coffee.