Since Wade Wilson a.k.a. Deadpool was introduced in 2009's X-Men Origins: Wolverine, fans have been eagerly awaiting to see the character rebooted, and adapted the "right way." And if the six years (actually closer to seven by the time Deadpool opens in theaters) seem like a long wait for that to happen, trust us when we say Ryan Reynolds has been waiting even longer.
As far back as 2004, back when New Line Cinema had the rights to the character, superhero movie veteran writer and producer David S. Goyer was developing a Deadpool solo movie with Reynolds that went nowhere. It wasn't until Twentieth Century Fox picked up the rights in turnaround that they started thinking Deadpool was a viable property so they brought in Reynolds for a guest part in the Wolverine origin with the plan of spinning off the character.
Of course, things didn't go quite according to plan. The combined critical failures of X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, while profitable, seemed to slow down momentum of the franchise until X-Men: First Class won back fans and critics in 2011, setting the brand up for X-Men: Days of Future Past to hit a home run for the studio. Now we're at a place where Fox has multiple Marvel movies coming out annually beginning next year.
We visited the Vancouver set of Deadpool in May of 2015 and sat down with writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick who explained the lengthy development of the project. They had first met with Fox just weeks after X-Men Origins: Wolverine back in July 2009 and pitched their idea to Reynolds. Reynolds and the studio dug it so they were hired and began writing in 2010.
Reese: It was a very collaborative process. We pitched a story to Ryan that was not an origin story, interestingly, because we thought that was a little old-fashioned, but when he heard it he thought, "you know, I love it but I also want to include an origin because we need to understand his pathos and his issues." And so we did this dual narrative where the script moves back and forth from present to past and we see how Deadpool became Deadpool and we also see him in action in a present adventure.
And that was a function of us and Ryan putting our heads together and figuring it out. It's gone through many iterations since then as well. We wrote a PG-13 version. We started writing and R version that became PG-13 then back to R. And we've written multiple iterations when our director came on - we changed some things.
Wernick: We've written a draft in each of the last six calendar years.
Reese: We've had drafts upon drafts.
Despite the amount of tweaks and rating switches over the years, the shooting draft is actually only "30% different" than the beloved version that leaked years ago. The main story beats and how the origin story is intertwined with the present day narrative largely remains the same.
As for how the film ultimately got its unique adult "hard R" rating, the first for any Fox-Marvel movie, we have producer Simon Kinberg to thank - the very same writer-producer who's currently taking a lot of heat for how the Fantastic Four reboot became a disaster.
Wernick: There were two drafts floating around over the last year and Simon Kinberg came aboard and he read both drafts - And he's the keeper of the Fox X-Men universe and ultimately most trusted over there - and he's like 'oh my god, you've gotta do it R' because there really is a hole in the marketplace in terms of the audience has really never seen this. The superhero market is really over-saturated and you know, Guardians of the Galaxy filled a little bit of a hole with the comedy side of it, but to go comedy/hard-R just felt like an opportunity. And if they could keep the budget down it was really the best move and we're most excited about that decision.
From the moment Fox greenlit the project to the day on set we saw shooting, the script remained 95% the same. Tweaks were only made based on shooting locations and budget. If anything, the lengthy development and lessons learned from previous X-Men films and the competition helped strengthen what Deadpool has ultimately become. What we've seen and heard on set, combined with the happily buzzworthy marketing materials so far, all showcase a very different mindset for how the studio and producers are handling their Marvel properties, Fantastic Four notwithstanding.
In just a few months moviegoers will meet Deadpool the way he should have been introduced, no holds barred, and after six years of polish. That sounds fun.
Tim Miller directs the film from a screenplay by Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese. It is produced by Simon Kinberg, Lauren Shuler Donner, and Ryan Reynolds, starringRyan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, Gina Carano, T.J. Miller, Brianna Hildebrand, and Leslie Uggams.
Based upon Marvel Comics’ most unconventional anti-hero, DEADPOOL tells the origin story of former Special Forces operative turned mercenary Wade Wilson, who after being subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers, adopts the alter ego Deadpool. Armed with his new abilities and a dark, twisted sense of humor, Deadpool hunts down the man who nearly destroyed his life.
Deadpool opens in theaters February 12, 2016; X-Men: Apocalypse on May 27, 2016; Gambit on October 7, 2016; Wolverine 3 on March 3, 2017; Fantastic Four 2 on June 9, 2017; and some as-yet unspecified X-Men film on July 13, 2018. The New Mutants is also in development.