Before both Deadpool movies became major hits and each broke records for R-rated movies at the box office, Ryan Reynolds’ Wade Wilson was simply a lost idea in Fox’s archives collecting dust. Then the film’s test footage was leaked and became so popular and beloved that the studio shortly green-lighted what became the first Deadpool movie. It’s a fantastic story, but not necessarily a superhero project with the most lavish budget.
The 2016 film cost reportedly just $58 million to make, which is well below the typical price tag for a movie in that genre. To compare, Tom Holland’s Spider-Man: Far From Home was made against a $160 million budget. But as Ryan Reynolds recently reflected on making the hugely successful film, he recalls how the constrained budget actually helped Deadpool’s quality. In his words:
Every time the studio took money away from our budget, we replaced whatever set piece we lost with character. Eventually that became the hallmark and defining characteristic of that property. People don’t remember saving-the-world kind of nonsense. They remember what he said, or how he reacted to a moment. To me, that lesson is worth its weight in gold, because you can penetrate the zeitgeist and make an impression without spending a ton of money, without busting the bank.
Let me get this straight… you don’t have to throw $200 million at a movie to make it good? Ryan Reynolds is a clever man, and as he put it to Entrepreneur, making the movie helped him realize that focusing on character was more valuable than taking an extra dollar for explosions or huge third act set pieces and whatnot.
Ryan Reynolds also pointed out that he thinks audiences are “numbed at spectacle.” (And it’s true to some extent depending on who you ask, of course.) It feels like we’ve seen the superhero origin told every which way, so the only way to improve it or catch our attention in a different way is to tell a great story. Wade Wilson’s origin story definitely hit many in the feels with its deep storyline alongside some hilarious jokes that more than made up for it being a $58 million action film.
Ryan Reynolds has also carried over this idea to his marketing work, whether it be for his alcohol brand Aviation Gin, which has thrived off its viral ads, or his pairing with Match.com and Taylor Swift that delivered an iconic advertisement about Satan and “2020” finding love. The actor has definitely thrived off of ideas rather than explosive visuals, and so often they catch our eyes.
In 2019, the Deadpool movies were dethroned as the highest-grossing R-rated movies of all time by Todd Phillips’ Joker. So it’s time for a reckoning, don’t you think? Deadpool 3 is in early development, with Bob’s Burgers writers Wendy Molyneux and Lizzie Molyneux-Loeglin penning the script. The movie will reportedly be Disney’s first R-rated MCU film, but until then, we’ll be daydreaming about the lost and very real road trip movie Deadpool and Logan were going to have before Fox shook hands with the House of Mouse.