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SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Deadpool 2. If you have not yet seen the film, please bookmark this page, and save the read until after your screening!
While the trailers for Deadpool 2 made fans think that the film was building an X-Force lineup consisting of characters like Bedlam, Shatterstar, Zeitgeist and Peter, the movie instead reveals their inclusion as a rather hilarious false start. A plan to parachute down and intercept a prison convoy goes horribly wrong, and all of the heroes mentioned above (plus Vanisher) wind up meeting gruesome ends. It ultimately makes for one of the best sequences in the entire blockbuster -- and it's one that I had a chance to talk about with writers/producers Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese. Said Wernick,
That was so much fun for us, because again, we always say, 'If you can't do it in a regular superhero movie, you'd best do it in a Deadpool movie.' And so that's how it felt to us, is that we wanted to push the boundaries, or, you know, pull the rug out from under the audience - set it up in all the marketing and all the materials, all the publicity, and people go and going, 'Oh my God, I love Shatterstar! Oh my God, Bedlam?!'
It seems kind of crazy to introduce a team of popular characters from the comics and kill them off almost immediately, but that's exactly what Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese successfully pulled off with Deadpool 2. The subject came up when I interviewed them last week during the film's New York press day, and they were ebullient as they described the fun trick they played on audiences with the movie's trailers.
The shooting day began with Terry Crews, Lewis Tan, Bill Skarsgard, and Rob Delaney gathering on set not to film real footage for Deadpool 2, but instead to just battle stunt guys and film the extra material that would end up in just the trailers. After that, though, came all of the work in the helicopter, and per Rhett Reese, the whole cast and crew had an incredibly fun time:
We all gathered, and they jumped out of the back of this helicopter, and was the best day we had on set. We were laughing as a group so hysterically looking at each other like, 'Wow, I think this may be lightning in a bottle here.' Particularly when Rob Delaney was just trying to talk himself out of the helicopter, having to kind of sit down there and slide off. And Shatterstar was taking his ponytail and kind of throwing it over his shoulder. That didn't really make it into the cut. But it was really, really funny, and we thought, 'We may be onto something.'
Of course, it should be noted that the duo did have their concerns about the sequence. Specifically, there was worry there would be some backlash about killing off characters who actually do have their own niche fanbases. At the same time, though, Wernick is clearly very happy with the finished result, and even referenced the awesome end credits scenes as a caveat for anyone stressed out about it. Said the writer/producer,
There were also worries about killing some people's favorite characters. People love Shatterstar. Rob Liefeld loved Shatterstar. But again, the great news is that there is now a time machine, that if we had to resurrect anybody.
Fortunately, things were copacetic with the actors as well -- despite the fact that they were being given very little room to develop characters in a major growing blockbuster. In fact, most of them came to the production because they were already friends with those involved. During my interview with director David Leitch, he put together the puzzle pieces for me, noting that he had the chance to work with Terry Crews on The Expendables, and that Bill Skarsgard had a supporting role in his previous directorial effort, Atomic Blonde. As for Lewis Tan, Leitch has actually known the actor since he was a kid, having a long working relationship with his father, stuntman/stunt coordinator, Philip Tan.
When Drew Goddard's X-Force eventually comes together it will include a very different lineup than the one in Deadpool 2 -- but we will not soon forget the OG lineup. They were sacrificed to the comedy gods, and their deaths are not in vein. They may not have a future with the franchise, but they will be forever remembered for their part in the sequel's funniest sequence.