Before the X-Men return to cinemas next year in X-Men: Apocalypse, moviegoers will (re)meet one of Marvel Comics' most popular characters: Deadpool. The infamous "Merc with a Mouth," iconic mask and all, will finally get his solo debut a year from now in a spinoff set within the same universe as the X-Men movies, directed by Tim Miller and starring Ryan Reynolds.
Reynolds of course, played Deadpool (real name: Wade Wilson) once already in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Like most of that film however, the direction the studio took with the character was inexplicable and borderline disastrous to the point where the franchise now pretends the first Wolverine solo outing didn't happen.
At the time, Reynolds took the small role in stride, knowing it would at least introduce Wade Wilson to audiences so that he could return in another (read: better) movie down the road. And it's been a long road. Hopes that Deadpool would get his own movie from fans were fading as years went by while X-Men series embraced a new direction, basing its stories in the past with a new cast.
But then, at San Diego Comic-Con last summer, something happened. Test footage that Tim Miller put together (starring Ryan Reynolds) a few years ago leaked online. The low quality, animated reel was welcomed with open arms by the media, fans and others in the industry. Almost immediately after, a cleaned up HD version of that same footage then leaked. In a matter of weeks, Twentieth Century Fox followed up by officially giving Deadpool the green light alongside a February 2016 release date. So, what gave the studio the courage to make Deadpool a reality?
"Exclusively the leaked test footage, 100 percent," says Ryan Reynolds in an interview with Yahoo.
We believed the test footage leak couldn't be a coincidence. After seeing and hearing Deadpool creator Rob Liefeld speak glowingly about the test footage, it seemed as if someone at Fox wanted to gauge interest and use it as a marketing ploy before making any official announcements. Reynolds himself, thought the same.
"I would have, if I had known it would have caused that! Honestly, we all thought Tim Miller, the director, had leaked it. But I have since investigated that enough, in quiet moments when he was beyond the point of being penalized by anybody, and he said that he really didn’t do it. The initial [leak] came from Fox they think — someone recorded the footage on their iPhone and then released it. And then once that happened, somebody hacked into Blur Studio and got the original footage in high-res and put it online."
Miller of course is an animation and VFX specialist, one of the co-founders of Blur Studio which has been active since the mid '90s. They've done everything from cinematic video game trailers (Star Wars: The Old Republic, Batman: Arkham Knight) to film intros, including the title sequence for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Miller himself, even directed the prologue for Thor: The Dark World.
Miller, using the highly praised Deadpool screenplay by Zombieland writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, is now finally able to work with Reynolds on a full length feature film. With a March production start date, Reynolds previously revealed that they're currently running and shooting all sorts of tests to prepare for the film - a release which is going to be made for a much lower budget than your standard superhero blockbuster.
"I was excited, because you can look back at an email chain from all of us, the core group involved in Deadpool, saying “We should leak this, f—-,” like three years ago. Saying, 'Hey, if this thing is going to stagnate, one of us should just say ‘Whoops, I slipped it online by accident.’' And nobody seemed to want to nut up and do that, myself included. Someone did it for us, years later, when we all completely assumed it was dead in the water.
Now, we get to make the movie. We don’t get to make it with the budget of most superhero movies, but we get to make it the way we want to make it, so that’s even more exciting than having a catered lunch."
The lower budget is part of the appeal for Fox in investing in Deadpool. It allows Miller, Reynolds and their crew to be more creative and have more freedom. Since Miller shares a "fierce loyalty" (Reynolds' words) for the Deadpool comics, that's something diehard fans can be excited about. It's something our own staff suggested on numerous occasions as an easy justification for making Deadpool (we even started a hashtag trend during an episode of the Screen Rant Underground podcast) - one of the most unique and entertaining Marvel Comics characters ever - into a film star. He's already one of the most popular Marvel Comics characters on the merchandise front, even getting his own self-titled video game in 2013.
— Rob Keyes (@rob_keyes) August 7, 2014
One day in the future we will find out who leaked the test footage. And if the movie meets expectations, we can all thank them. In the meantime, Miller, Reynolds and everyone else are happy they did.
Fantastic Four opens August 7, 2015, Deadpool on February 12, 2016, X-Men: Apocalypse on May 27, 2016, Gambit is coming Oct 7, 2016, The Wolverine 3 (not the official title) on March 3, 2017, Fantastic Four 2 on June 2, 2017, and some as-yet unspecified X-Men film on July 13, 2018.
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