Why Deadpool Worked Better This Time, According To The Guy Who Directed Him Last Time

Tim Miller’s Deadpool is a massive success, both critically and commercially. The character works so well on screen, it’s almost shocking to remember that Ryan Reynolds tried to play Wade Wilson in a superhero movie before, only to see it crash and burn. But when I asked Gavin Hood, the director of X-Men: Origins – Wolverine the reason why he believes the new Deadpool works better than the version of Deadpool he tried to bring to the screen, his answer was as honest and intelligent as you’d hope.  

Gavin Hood cast Ryan Reynolds as mercenary for hire Wade Wilson in the ill-fated X-Men: Origins: Wolverine. If you saw the new Deadpool movie, you caught a lot of the jokes aimed at the mistaken version of Deadpool that was presented in Wolverine. But Hood knows why this version works better… the character finally was allowed to be himself! Hood told me:

I think the character works so well now, because the character is allowed to be who the character really is, unencumbered by, you know, PG-13 requirements and a great deal of marketing debate. I think the fact that the filmmakers kind of made that film below the radar -- and I happen to know a little bit, only because my production designer from Ender’s Game, Sean Haworth, is a fantastic designer, was the designer on Deadpool. I remember when he was making the film, it was just a little bit more below the radar initially. And more credit to the filmmakers and to Ryan, that they took control of their character and got on and let Ryan do the film. Deadpool is a motor mouth, foul mouth character, and it’s very difficult with these big movies to, when you have to work within certain parameters that are set by, by…Studio heads?Thank you. Thank you.

The production of X-Men: Origins – Wolverine was notoriously difficult, with a writers strike preventing proper changes to the script when it was decided to expand beyond a proper Wolverine origin story. Ryan Reynolds, a devout Deadpool fan, was asked to play a version of the character who didn’t fit the anti-hero’s origins. As you may recall, they sewed his mouth shut.

More than anything, in discussing this new Deadpool versus the Deadpool he was asked to make, Gavin Hood just seemed happy for Ryan Reynolds, that the actor finally was able to bring the right version of the character to the screen. He told me:

I think Ryan is fantastic and I think Sean, again, who I worked with on Ender’s Game, as a production design job… I’m so thrilled for him, because there’s a huge talent and Ryan is a huge talent and he has been able to just bring out his essence as an actor in a role that he really loved.You know, when he did the little cameo bit in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, it was exactly what we’ve been talking about. It was the studio attempting to plug in a few characters and test the waters. But now he gets to make his own movie and he did it with great courage and with the full force of his personality, so he deserves every success. I think he’s done really well, and I think it’s fantastic that they had the courage to just go ahead and make the film. They had to make it R rated, but can you imagine if they were trying for PG-13? I just don’t think it would have worked. Which is not to say that other films shouldn’t be PG-13. Of course you want that huge audience. But you’ve got to be very careful that you’re not torturing the material to fit a particular marketing strategy, and that’s what they didn’t do with Deadpool. They just made the film the way it needed to be made, I think.

They did indeed, to the tune of $754 million in global ticket sales. Can this be a lesson to studios looking to make a proper superhero movie? Stay true to the character’s characteristics, and the rest – you hope – will fall in line. 

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Having been with the site since 2011, Sean interviewed myriad directors, actors and producers, and created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.