If only Deadpool had starred in his own 90s children's cartoon show, the twenty-year nostalgia cycle would probably have brought him right back into mainstream popularity and eased the way for his own standalone movie. As it is, Deadpool has been struggling in the mires of development hell, as screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, and director Tim Miller, relentlessly pursue a green light for it in the face of significant studio resistance.
One significant bonus that Deadpool has on its side is the fact that Ryan Reynolds, who played the character in X-Men Origins: Wolverine (which was not one of the better X-Men movies, but was nonetheless a long way from being a box office flop), is enthusiastic about returning to the role. As such, many of the updates that we've heard over the years have come from Reynolds himself.
The latest of these updates comes from an interview in Total Film, in which Reynolds was asked once again about the status of the project. The actor is still passionate about returning to the role, saying, "I know the character so well, but more than that, I know how to do it." When it comes to his hopes for actually seeing the movie made, however, Reynolds admits that he's honestly lost track of what's happening:
“That movie is alive and kicking, and then it’s dead as a doornail. Then it’s alive and kicking and then it’s dead… it’s like the worst relationship I've ever had!”
Fans of the character can probably empathize with Reynolds' frustration, as this latest update makes it just as difficult to ascertain the likelihood of the movie getting made as those which have gone before. The fact that the project has been resurrected from the grave multiple times is a promising testament to its resilience, but the fact that it has been repeatedly killed off is indicative of some strong hurdles in its path.
While Deadpool might be familiar to anyone with a basic working knowledge of the Marvel universe, he's not exactly a household name and his personality doesn't lend itself very naturally to family-friendly entertainment. Reese and Wernick are refusing to water the script down from an R rating to PG-13 - what's the 'Merc with a Mouth' without teeth, after all? - and since this cuts out a chunk of potential income from young teenage audiences, Twentieth Century Fox has been very wary about giving it the green light.
The solution that Reese and Wernick have come up with is a relatively simple one: to match the reduced box office prospects, the movie's budget can be adjusted accordingly. According to the writers, their script could easily be shot on a budget of about $50 million, leaving plenty of room to make profit. It's a very modest amount compared to the production budgets for PG-13 superhero movies, which can cast upwards of $200 million; furthermore, the Blade trilogy has already shown that R-rated superhero movies can be commercially successful, so long as production costs are kept relatively low.
Reynolds also says that Fox is worried about more than just Deadpool's box office potential. The studio has built an incredibly successful franchise out of the X-Men and Deadpool, though he may only be tangentially related to the superhero team, is part of the Fox-owned Marvel family. Therefore, the success or failure of a Deadpool movie would have an impact on the reputation of Fox's comic book movies as a collective. It will probably take a lot of convincing before the studio is ready to launch the character with a bawdy, violent solo film - one which unashamedly breaks the fourth wall to the point of poking fun at other movies within Fox's superhero oeuvre:
“The character knows he’s a comic-book character, he knows he’s in a film, he knows who the executives are at the studio making the movie. In the current iteration of the script, Deadpool is aware of the Wolverine movie. He doesn't say anything disparaging about it but he does at one point play with the Deadpool action figure with some curiosity.
"[Deadpool] is risky for everybody involved... It's not as commercial as [the studio heads] would like it to be. It's a property that is excessively popular and successful, just as a comic property. So you certainly don't want to mess that up. And if you're a studio you certainly don't want to be put something out there that you can't get back."
The sentiment is understandable (though Fox did happily put Elektra out there, so it's difficult to believe that the studio is too judicious), but in order to appeal to existing fans of the character and the comics, they may have to accept that a risky script is required to do him justice. The recently-released video game, for example, featured a very typical brand of Deadpool humor, including a scene where the character calls up his own voice actor, Nolan North, and asks him to work on the game.
Is the world ready for a Deadpool spin-off movie, and is Reynolds the right actor to play him? Tell us if you like the sound of Reese and Wernick's script in the comments.
Deadpool will be out in theaters ... possibly in the next few years, possibly never. We'll let you know if the project gets resurrected again.
Source: Total Film