Deadpool 2 Interview: Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick

Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick have become known in recent years for their collaborative writing projects such as Zombieland, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, and Life. Now they’ve joined forces again to deliver us some more of our favorite Marvel Comics mercenary in Deadpool 2, which is now in theaters

Screen Rant spoke with Reese and Wernick on press day, where we discussed the differences in direction that they took going into the Deadpool sequel, what it was like working with director David Leitch, and why some members of the X-Force team were chosen for the film and why some were left out.

SR: The original Deadpool caught audiences off guard for being rated R but also infusing it with a love story. You guys move in a little bit of a different direction with this. So I wanted to ask why the elements of family this time around?

Paul Wernick: Well, um, again, as you said, first movie was a love story and we wanted this movie to have an emotional core like the first one did and we thought what's the next evolution from love story is you find love and then start a family and  that was really the starting point and taking it away everything that Deadpool loves and you know, at the very beginning of the movie and then him being a lost soul and then, you know, basically trying to find his way in the world and ultimately, you know, this journey of trying to save this kid leads him to the family that he's always never known he's wanted, but always needed.

Rhett Reese: Yeah, and they always say with a math problem, you know, sometimes it helps to work backward, and with us, we knew we wanted to end the movie with Deadpool and his new X-Force, and so that is a family that's a dysfunctional family. So we've worked backwards from there and try to figure out well, how can we make that his goal to find a family, to want a family? And that became the theme that had fused the whole movie.

SR: We talked before about my favorite X-Man, not a popular opinion with you guys, my favorite X-Man being Scott Summers. My question for you guys, obviously Cable's would be part of this, Scott's son, so where would you want to see Cable go next?

Rhett Reese: Well, it's a good. It's a good question. Cable has such a complex back story. We certainly want to explore the virus that's killing him. There was a little bit of that in this script and it didn't quite make it into the cut, but this idea that he sort of slowly becoming more machine than man, I think is definitely something we want to explore. We also want to explore a little bit of him being a man out of time because now he really is, the way we've set it up, trapped in theory in this previous time and he's committed to trying to make the world a better place to not only save his future family but just to make the world better in 30 or 40 years. We definitely want to explore that too, and then I think largely we just always want to use Cable as a foil for Deadpool. He's such a man on a mission who doesn't want to be distracted by irreverence, and silliness, and craziness, and that's the perfect foil for Deadpool the way Colossus is as a goody two shoes cable is with his focus and his desire to solve a mission.

SR: I talked to David Leitch earlier. He's like the new kid on the block with you guys and Ryan (Reynolds), and he talked to me about when he would bring ideas to the table it was almost like, all right, whoever had the best idea, let's just go with that. Can you talk to me about that process of working with him since he is the new kid on the block?

Paul Wernick: He came in seamlessly, you know? The transition was obviously the big headline of Tim Miller leaving the movie and Dave (Leitch) walked in seamlessly. It was open minded. He knew he was coming into a group that had a relationship for 10 years and a backstory and shorthand and fit in so brilliantly. This movie is about finding a family. I mean, we're kind of a family, you know, dysfunctional family, behind the scenes as well, you know, Dave is such a brilliant, action director. He got the comedy, he got the heart, you know, he brought all the elements that table that a movie like this needs of the helm and it was wonderful.

Rhett Reese: It is a free marketplace of ideas. We like to think of it as such. I mean, Dave had that great idea at the end of the movie where Deadpool puts the collar on himself. Originally we had Fire Fist putting the color on Deadpool and Dave said, well, why doesn't he just put it on himself as a way of saying like, look, you gotta kill me and everybody's like, of course, that's like, that's so emotional, and so cool, and so important for the story in that moment. Then strangely, it sort of fell out and then Paul and I saw cut without it. We were like, no, no, Dave, you got! Your idea's the right one. We were fighting for Dave's idea to Dave because somehow he'd taken it out and then he was like, no, you're right, we should have put it back in. So he put it back in, but it's like this, we're all fighting for just what we feel like is the very best idea no matter who it came from, and I think that free marketplace of ideas does make for a better movie.

Paul Wernick: And we always say and Rhett and I, our tenant to our partnership has always been whoever's most passionate about an idea generally wins and I think we've transcended that over the course of bringing in Dave and obviously Ryan as well and whoever fights most passionately and feels strongly about it, most strongly about generally wins out.

Deadpool 2 X-Force team

SR: Drew Goddard is obviously working on X-Force. How closely are you guys collaborating with him on the characters that you guys have?

Rhett Reese: Not yet because he's off making another movie. I think probably we will moving forward, but, but Drew's not finished with his new movie until the fall and then at that point he's going to clear the deck. Now, he has his own story he's come up with and he's beat it out in his head. I don't know if it's in full outline form yet, so he does have at least a rough plan, but at some point he'll put that to paper and I'm sure we'll discuss it because we're all part of the same universe. We all have to know what each other's doing and then he'll go off and write it and then I'll go off and direct it. So we're excited.

SR: I love the X-Force in this film. Can you talk to me about some of the characters you chose for this team and why you chose them?

Paul Wernick: Well, some of them, it was just by name.  Fire Fist, you know, we just thought, oh my God, we got to put a guy named Fire Fist in the movie. We don't care what his power are. Deadpool is going to have so much fun with it, you know, Zeitgeist, spits acidic vomit. We thought, oh wow, there's an Arby's joke in there. I've been to. Arby's isn't too pleased about that.

Rhett Reese: Probably not. Probably not. Free publicity but...

Paul Wernick: Who else?

Rhett Reese: I mean, like Shatterstar, we thought just because he comes from an alien planet, like it is naturally going to think he's better and actually be better than humans, and yet he's the one who gets ground up in the helicopter rotor blades. Everybody, we were kind of going from a place of either they're important for the story, or they're funny, or they're like Vanisher, just funny. I thought it was a really funny physical gag and then an opportunity to put a cameo and, and it turned out to be the greatest cameo we could have imagined, so it was a little bit of just a smorgasbord of what we thought was the most entertaining, which is usually what we do. We don't really care as much about being faithful to which group was teamed with which group and the comics. We're more interested in just why are they entertaining and then if they're entertaining enough, they make the cut.

Paul Wernick: Rob Liefeld came up to me last night and he's like, you know, people keep asking me like, what a comic is this based on it? And he's like, it's not.

Rhett Reese: It's cherry picking.

Paul Wernick: Yeah, it's kind of a recipe of all these different characters and all these different storylines that ended up in our swirl and have come out with a cake at the other end.

SR: That's what I love about this film though, because you serve me, like the hardcore fan, but it's also such great storytelling with the mainstream audience.

Rhett Reese: We always do want to try to service both. We really don't want to alienate the hardcore folks, but at the same time it's got to be accessible for, you know, my aunt. She comes into it and she's 83 years old and she watched it last night and she loved it. She really got it. I said, because I gave her the tutorial before she went in and I said, okay, here's the Cable, here's this, and at the end she said it was really cool that you've got me up to speed, but I would have gotten it all without that. Like I really would have understood it. And I thought, well, that's good.

SR: On the carpet last night, Ryan said that there's a possibility now it's more promising for a Deadpool 3. What would you want to see Deadpool do next?

Rhett Reese: Well, if we told you that we had to throw you out that way. No, actually, in truth, we don't know. I think Ryan's kind of justifiably itching to get the red suit off for a few months and just do something else and we are too, and just to clear our heads more than anything. Dave's going off to a new thing, so I think we'll take a little bit of a break and then we'll probably get the itch again and we'll all come back together.  We're going to miss it for sure and we always lined it up so that Drew could be doing X-Force while we were figuring out Deadpool 3, and that's going to be the plan, but I just think we need just a touch of time off from it to clear our heads. And because last time we literally started Deadpool 2, the script, before Deadpool one even came out, so we never got a break. Even when we were on the Deadpool press tour last time to release the movie, we were going back to our hotel rooms writing the script for Deadpool 2, so we never really got a real break from Deadpool.

Paul Wernick: We've written a draft of Deadpool every consecutive year since 2009.

Rhett Reese: So I think this'll be a summer of no Deadpool, which will again, just allow us to recharge our batteries and then we'll be back in the back in.

Deadpool 2 Domino

SR: With fresh eyes. One character I loved, completely loved was it was Domino and I thought to myself was, wow, it's going to be really tough to see how Domino's powers play out on screen, but it completely works. Can you talk to me about the challenges of writing Domino and making sure that you can convey her power?

Paul Wernick: Well, it's easy to write the pros that, you know, Domino's superpower is luck, but how do you visual that? And that was Dave that was just all day and kind of creating these moments that are so cinematic and so big that are happening because of her or good fortune.

Rhett Reese: It's about making it as visual as possible. We had a draft where she flew out of the convoy and landed in the back of a mattress track on a bunch of mattresses. Then Dave was like, what if it's even bigger than that? What if it's a big inflatable panda bear from a used car lot. And we thought, oh my gosh, that's even funnier. We're always looking to physicalize it in any way we can. I think he did a great job at that. If there's a real Rube Goldberg, quality to the destruction that's going on around her that somehow doesn't affect her. Then that infuses her personality, which is, she's sort of happy go lucky. She's like everything always works out for me. It's like I don't really have to be too stressed about anything at all where it all comes together.

SR: Besides Cable and Domino, we're introduced to a lot of other mutants in this movie. What mutants, possibly were in a draft that maybe didn't quite make it to the final cut?

Rhett Reese: Okay. Mr X was one, a villain.  Black Tom was much expanded in an earlier draft. I think those were the only two that I think played a prominent role. Sluggo had a bigger role. Sluggo's in the movie, in the prison. He was in a  bigger role in the prison in earlier drafts where there was more mayhem. There were versions early on were in the prison, when Cable broke in, all the mutant collars failed and so all of a sudden all the mutants had their abilities and it was just this mayhem of every mutant fighting every other mutant with every ability possible, but budget, budget kind of brought us back down to earth there and we did it a little more traditionally. The collars stayed on, but those are probably the only ones that had a bigger role that that dropped out.

MORE: David Leitch Interview for Deadpool 2

Key Release Dates
  • Deadpool 2 (2018) release date: May 18, 2018
  • New Mutants (2020) release date: Apr 03, 2020
  • X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019) release date: Jun 07, 2019
  • Gambit (2020) release date: Mar 13, 2020
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