After X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine soured the X-Men movie brand with back-to-back critically panned franchise installments, the series needed a refresh. Twentieth Century Fox and its X-Men producers practically pretended that the first Wolverine spinoff didn't even exist and quasi-rebooted the timeline with the period piece X-Men: First Class, introducing an entirely new cast. Using time-travel in the First Class sequel and bringing back original director Bryan Singer, the X-Men came back in a big, positive and financially record-breaking way with X-Men: Days of Future Past in 2014, a film that bridged together all the best of what came before and helped the creative team pick and choose what elements they wish to carry forward.
Now, the brand is back in a good place and a sequel, X-Men: Apocalypse, was given the greenlight and a release date before its predecessor even opened in theaters. According to Bryan Singer, Fox is taking the property "seriously" and bringing in the right people (i.e. Simon Kinberg and comics guru Mark Millar getting long-term contracts) to mine the massive X-Men comics universe for bigger ideas and larger stories. That means Marvel movies from Fox every year going forward.
In 2015, the focus from the studio is on rebooting the Fantastic Four before its producer and co-writer Simon Kinberg gets back to work on X-Men: Apocalypse in 2016. But after a pair of surprise, seemingly fan-driven announcements, also coming in 2016 are two highly anticipated spinoff films Deadpool and Gambit. Both characters appeared in the Wolverine origins movie - the one we're all ignoring - and so both mutants are getting a reboot as well.
Ryan Reynolds played Wade Wilson aka Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and while his performance and stunts playing the infamous "Merc with a Mouth" were spot on, the character was woefully misused and poorly adapted. The same can be said for Gambit, the "Ragin' Cajun" who inexplicably wasn't at all Cajun in the film. Taylor Kitsch played Gambit that time and is being replaced by Channing Tatum the next time the character hits the screen.
Now that Deadpool is in active development and has a release date to go alongside its highly praised script by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, and its talented director in special effects guru Tim Miller, Reynolds is finally able to talk more openly about suiting up in the mercenary duds and re-joining the X-Men movie universe. Chatting with Collider, Reynolds explained that at the moment - with production beginning as early as March - they're intensely running tests to figure out the best way to bring Deadpool to life in his own live-action films.
"Tests. Lots of tests. Lots and lots of tests. That’s about all I can say about that."
And speaking on Tim Miller, who shot and constructed the amazing Deadpool test footage several years ago that leaked online last summer just before the film got the official greenlight (read: not a coincidence), Reynolds has nothing but high praise.
"[He's] always been the right guy. He's always, you know, shown nothing but a fierce loyalty to the canon of Deadpool and that’s the thing you look for first and foremost, a guy that is always wanting to push a little bit farther. And the advantage of doing a movie like this on a budget that is significantly less than any other kind of superhero movie is that you get to do things that you don't get to do on other superhero movies so that's what we're most excited about."
If the "fierce loyalty to the canon" statement combined with what was depicted in the test footage doesn't sell Deadpool fans on the driving force behind the character's first solo outing in movie theaters, nothing will. As we've talked about on the site and on the SR Underground podcast, Fox doesn't need to give Deadpool a massive, blockbuster budget to make it successful and Reynolds says as much here. In a separate interview last week, Reynolds reiterated that sentiment, explaining that with the smaller budget, Miller has much more creative freedom and that's what Deadpool - a character who uniquely breaks the fourth wall and talks directly to the audience - arguably needs more than any other Marvel character.
As for whether or not Deadpool with its lower budget can be rated R, Reynolds says he doesn't know but that they hope.
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.
Header art edited from painting by Eckko.