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[This story contains spoilers for Deadpool 2]
Writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick brought a new level of risk-taking to the franchise with Deadpool 2. But there was one action early in the film that the duo wasn’t sure the audience would go along with.
To underline the above warning, there are spoilers ahead.
In the early moments of the film, Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) is killed by a man attempting to exact revenge on Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds). It’s the spark that sets Deadpool on his journey for the film and has proved controversial with some viewers who take issue with Deadpool being motivated by the death of a female loved one. It also led to the film earning praise for a third reunion between Wade and Vanessa that features a level of emotion nobody expects from a Deadpool movie. But the tale wasn’t always going to go that way. The screenwriters, who penned the script with Reynolds, also considered having Wade and Vanessa break up rather than have her killed.
In a conversation with Heat Vision, Wernick and Reese discuss their worries about the Vanessa decision and that third-act sequence in which Deadpool reunites with her in the afterlife.
How early in this process did you know you would kill Vanessa?
Paul Wernick: As Ryan said in the past, the Deadpool movies work when you take everything away from him, when you get him at his lowest point early. The idea that Vanessa dies, it was a big debate. There were points in time through script development and early on that they just broke up. That she didn’t die. Our fear was: Was the audience going to be able to get over the fact that we kill Vanessa in the first five minutes of the movie?; a character we built, that relationship we spent the whole first movie developing. So, we were terrified by it. Especially in a movie that’s a comedy. Can you in one scene kill Wade’s love of his life and in the next scene can you laugh? Can he make jokes anymore? I feel like the audience has given us license to mix those tones and it’s a delicate dance. It’s a real fine recipe where you have to figure out a dash of what to put where and between the comedy and the heart and the drama and the action. Our feeling was it was key to really rob Deadpool of his family so that he could then in turn search for this new family that he ultimately finds at the end of the movie.
This film has a larger budget than the first installment. How much did you think about budget while crafting the sequel?
Rhett Reese: We definitely had more to play with this time and so we designed a little bit bigger action sequences. We introduced another all-CG character in Juggernaut. That’s always very expensive. We knew we were going to have some pyrotechnics with Firefist’s abilities. We obviously brought on another A-list movie star in Josh Brolin, so we did kind of muscle it up. At the same time, you still find yourself fighting against a budget always. There were limitations. There were some things we had to scale down and scale back, including a massive set piece in act III, where Black Tom, one of the bad guys who dies in act two of the movie, actually survived into act three and had a power where he was able to move wood with his mind, so he was able to uproot trees and tear up the whole orphanage and all this stuff. And I think for budgetary reasons and so we didn’t overstuff the movie we decided to scale him back. But you are always working with a budget. We were afforded a lot more this time, which was fun, but we also wanted to make sure that we didn’t overbloat the movie. We didn’t’ want Deadpool raising entire cities into the air or saving New York from alien invasions or anything of that scale. It had to remain personal and that was our goal and hopefully we hit that mark.
Wernick: The stakes of a Deadpool movie are so much different than most of these superhero movies because it’s generally not the fate of the world, it’s personal. It’s Deadpool; it’s what happens in his life and his loves and his ups and downs through his day to day that makes it very personal. And we wanted to stick to that.
How did you decide to get the audience amped for X-Force, and then kill them?
Reese: We always thought there was a goofiness there that people would enjoy. This idea that we really build up this team only to almost immediately destroy them all. And we were a little worried tonally about if people would forgive Deadpool’s relatively callous attitude toward their death, but it actually works out. This movie is very interesting in its ability to shift tones and people not minding the tonal shifts. I think that’s just because they come to expect it from Deadpool and they are willing to roll with it more than they might be in another movie. You just can’t imagine an Avengers movie where six people die and everybody just picks up and are cracking jokes 10 seconds later. You’d think it’d be really inhuman and caustic, but in Deadpool it works. We always try to stretch ourselves and ask ourselves what can’t the other movies do that we can? And we try to do those things.
Wernick: One of them being Deadpool burying himself in a mountain of cocaine. When’s the last time you saw Captain American and cocaine in the same frame?
No one expected a Deadpool movie to make its audiences tear up. Did you have any worries that going to the afterlife for a reunion with Vanessa is something audiences would buy?
Wernick: The Vanessa-Wade relationship was the emotional heartbeat of the first movie. Strangely, despite the fact that we kill her in the first five minutes, it’s the emotional spine of the second movie and him visiting her in the afterlife and trying to connect with her and ultimately breaking through that wall and having that final kiss. It’s a real challenge to make people laugh and also to try to make people cry at the end. That scene really is emotional and it’s really beautiful and it makes us happy that it has resonated with audiences in that same way it resonated with us.
There’s a lot more from our conversation with Reese and Wernick. You can read the inside story on the Brad Pitt cameo here, their thoughts on the midcredits scene that brings back Vanessa and kills Ryan Reynolds here, or check out their thoughts on the future of the Deadpool franchise here.
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