Stuntman-turned-director David Leitch was originally hired to develop X-Force, but ended up directing Deadpool 2 and turning into into a launching pad for the X-Force franchise instead. Leitch has had a good few years - first making his directorial debut with the jaw-dropping action film John Wick, and then following it up with the cool and stylish spy thriller Atomic Blonde. Now he has successfully broken into the superhero franchise game, with Deadpool 2 grossing more than $500 million worldwide after just a couple of weeks at the box office.
Deadpool 2 isn't just a solo adventure for its titular hero. It also sets up Drew Goddard's upcoming team movie X-Force, which will see Deadpool, Cable and Domino return for a second attempt at forming their own "super-duper group" (the first attempt didn't go too well).
Despite the massive success of the first Deadpool movie, director Tim Miller eventually parted ways with Deadpool 2 due to creative differences with star Ryan Reynolds. 20th Century Fox then turned to Leitch, who was already working on a different corner of the X-Men universe. Speaking to ComicBook, Leitch recalled:
"When I took the job, I had just been hired to develop X-Force and I was working on my pitch of the world and the characters that I wanted to use into the universe when I got the call about Deadpool 2 and like, 'Hey, would you be interested in directing Deadpool 2? And I was like, wow, that's a big, daunting task, because X-Force was like, 'Okay, I get to start the universe and then I'm not going to be dealing with the expectation of a sequel, and I'll have my imprint on something.'"
Despite his initial reluctance, Leitch came up with a pitch for Deadpool 2 that was essentially a prototype for X-Force - introducing the idea of the team, as well as some of its key members. This gelled with what Reynolds and screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick were looking for, and so Leitch boarded Deadpool 2. The movie introduced a number of notable X-Force members - including Shatterstar, Bedlam and Zeitgeist - but Leitch says that they steered clear of including any characters whose rights might cross over with Marvel Studios (like Quicksilver, for example):
"There is a list that the studio has of the X-Men characters that they have rights to. If there's any cross over, like rights with Marvel, then it might be a discussion. But for the most part we stayed within the stuff that Fox has rights over right now. Which is loosely anyone who's in the X-Men universe, including X-Force and those types of characters. So, that's kind of how it all worked. I mean, we didn't try to push to grab stuff that we didn't have rights over or that Fox didn't have control over."
Next up for Leitch is the Fast and Furious spinoff movie Hobbs and Shaw, and he's also attached to direct an adaptation of Ubisoft video game The Division. That will likely keep him busy for the next few years, but we wouldn't be surprised if he ends up returning to direct another Deadpool movie - or perhaps even a sequel to X-Force.
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