Long before Deadpool 2 or even X-Men Origins: Wolverine were made, Ryan Reynolds was working on bringing the Merc with a Mouth to life in the big screen. Marvel Comics fans and Deadpool diehards have been following the journey of Wade Wilson to theaters for a long time, and Reynolds has been attached to play the character for most of that journey. And with Deadpool 2 about to hit theaters, it’s worth looking back at the winding and somewhat bizarre circumstances that led to the first film even being made.
The early reactions to Deadpool 2 are very positive, teasing a movie even funnier and more action-packed than the original. That tone was something fans were drawn to from the start. It’s the leaked test footage of Tim Miller’s Deadpool that made Fox finally sit up and realize the audience the film had, but few could have suspected that goodwill would extend to one of the most successful R-rated franchise of all time.
While Reynolds was working on bringing Deadpool to life for over a decade before anything concrete happened, plans for the character to star in his own movie started even earlier.
- This Page: The First Attempt To Make a Deadpool Movie
- Page 2: How Ryan Reynolds Finally Joined Deadpool
A Deadpool Movie Was First Planned in 2000
Back in 2000, Marvel was finally on an upswing. The Blade franchise was preparing for a second installment after the first was a huge hit, and X-Men's successful release that year gave Marvel even more clout. The history of Marvel Studios has been plagued by the assets the company sold off in the ‘80s and ‘90s, but the birth of Marvel Films (later renamed Marvel Studios) allowed them to begin licensing their characters for what turned out to be a string of hit films. From there, they’d eventually enact a plan to begin self-producing movies, but first they planned a more traditional deal with a rising studio.
With Artisan Entertainment having just released the sleeper hit The Blair Witch Project, the mid-range studio seemed the perfect place for Marvel to bring some of its smaller characters to life. The likes of Spider-Man, the X-Men, and the Fantastic Four were being left to bigger companies, but Artisan saw the potential to craft films under $80 million that would nevertheless appeal to young adult audiences.
Variety revealed the details of the Marvel-Artisan deal back in 2000, with the plan stating the studio would produce and distribute 15 projects across film, television, animation, and the Internet. Among the assets were Deadpool, Black Panther, Iron Fist, Power Pack, Morbius, Ant-Man, Longshot, and Mort the Dead Teenager. That last one was a more comical Marvel serial from the early '90s that is unlikely to ever land in the MCU, but could still make for a nice out-of-the-box adaptation.
The rest of the names, meanwhile, mostly feature characters that have been brought to life or are in development, with Longshot and Power Pack the only projects that don’t seem to be in development anymore. What’s more interesting, however, is just how much general knowledge of comic book properties has changed, as evidenced by Variety’s peculiar descriptions of various properties. Deadpool is described as an “uglified” mercenary who doesn’t care if he lives or dies, missing the fact that he's virtually impossible to kill. Iron Fist, meanwhile, is said to use his powers to “become literally an iron weapon," which would make for quite an amusing superhero if true. Finally, there’s Black Panther, whom the trade referred to as a "black Indiana Jones-style character."
Entertaining flashback aside, the report paints a picture quite different from what we actually received in the past two decades, and shows just how different Marvel films could have been. What's more, but movies once seen as low priorities like Deadpool have become huge hits, while Black Panther has shattered records and become one of the most successful films of all time. Regardless of how they were envisioned, it's clear that Marvel was keen to get Deadpool to the big screen as early as 2000—all they needed was a star.
- Deadpool 2 (2018) release date: May 18, 2018