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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…
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.
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.