Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool doesn’t pull any punches — in fight scenes or delivering raunchy jokes. But the latest big-screen version of Wade Wilson saves some of his sharpest barbs for superhero movies and the studios that produce them, like Deadpool distributor 20th Century Fox.
While co-writer Paul Wernick admitted that he was apprehensive about including such comments in the film, he said he was relieved that the folks at Fox had a good sense of humor.
“You’re always nervous when you make fun of the people who write the checks,” Wernick told The Hollywood Reporter ahead of Monday night’s Deadpool fan screening in New York. “But Fox has been so great and so open to making fun of themselves. It’s the essence of the character and the essence of the movie. You almost can’t make a Deadpool movie and not do that.”
Reynolds said he was relieved that Fox was willing to let Deadpool joke about its hit X-Men franchise, including the movies’ different timelines and what Deadpool says he did to Wolverine to get his own movie.
“They’re important to the character,” Reynolds said of Wade’s superhero-themed jokes. “They’re part of a universe that is extremely meta and self-aware. That’s a fingerprint and a signature, and if you take that away then we’re just doing the same thing we did in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. And I know the studio’s been an amazing partner on this movie and as much as I’ve thrown them under the bus as a hideous and disgusting publicity stunt, they’ve actually been incredible partners and their marketing team has been genius from the get-go.”
Even producer Simon Kinberg, who also produces the X-Men films, doesn’t mind Deadpool’s deprecating remarks about his other franchise.
“I think it’s all done with actually love for the X-Men,” Kinberg told THR. “It’s done with a smile and a wink and affection — and to Wolverine, too. Hugh [Jackman] loves this movie, and Hugh has a sort of wonderful, wicked sense of humor in real life.”
Deadpool also features a few generic superhero slams including a couple of snicker-inducing allusions to Reynolds’ last appearance in a shiny suit — as Green Lantern in Warner Bros.’ poorly received film of the same name.
“I feel like it’s equal opportunity at everybody, across the board, who works on these kinds of films,” said Kinberg. “And I feel like the superhero genre, you know there’s so many of these movies now, it was sort of the right time culturally to make a movie that can make fun of them. It would assume a certain fluency from the audience about the tropes of the genre, about the paradigms of it so that we can be sort of broadly satirizing it and specifically as well.”
T.J. Miller, who plays Wade’s bartender-friend Weasel, said he thinks the time is right for an R-rated comic book-based movie and was struck by that when he read the script.
“We’ve been waiting for an R-rated comic-book superhero genre movie,” he said. “We’ve been waiting for something in this space, which isn’t going away, that’s been clear for decades. We need something in this space that can sort of open up the genre and allow edgy, more R-rated, more just different types of these movies to be able to be made.”
Of the often-inappropriate lines that Wade/Deadpool trades with Weasel, his girlfriend Vanessa and others, some were in the script and others were improvised.
“It’s such a good script, but a lot of the lines that I laugh at … were definitely improvised,” said Miller. “So the back-and-forth in the bar scene, that was very, like, improvised riffing. Ryan’s a great improviser, and I didn’t know that. I knew he’s funny, a great actor, but then when I started improvising with him, I realized, this is why he’s great for the character, this is why he’s so successful. … It was one of those films where even the writer and the director were riffing with you to arrive at the greatest version of a scene, which in some cases is just me telling Ryan, ‘He’s f—ing ugly.”
Reynolds said it’s a blur to him which lines were improvised, which were said as written and which are a mix of both.
“Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick and I have all been working on this for six years together, so there’s a real huddle mentality on the set,” said the actor. “We’ll do a take, we’ll huddle up and I’ll do five more jokes for that same moment and then we’ll huddle up and try it again.”
A lot of the movie’s memorable songs were also in the script, Kinberg explained, and the Deadpool production team was able to use the music they wanted.
“Rhett and Paul, the writers, and Ryan, who was involved with the screenplay at the very beginning, had very specific ideas about different period songs that they wanted to use and for whatever reason, all of the artists that we went to were excited to be part of the movie,” Kinberg explained. “And we made this movie for a relatively modest budget relative to other superhero and comic book movies, so we needed the artists to be cooperative with us.”
One track that’s already been linked to Deadpool from the trailers is Salt-N-Pepa’s “Shoop.” The rap duo even made the scene at Monday night’s fan screening, where their song and others filled the AMC Empire 25 in Times Square while scores of fans sporting Deadpool masks and other red-and-black ensembles answered trivia questions and mingled with Reynolds and the rest of the film team.