As the tectonic plates of the movie world continue to shift, somewhat more seismically than usual thanks to the streaming revolution, the already fickle industry tends to react swiftly to trends. One of the recent quakes that has rippled through Hollywood belongs to 20th Century Fox’s “Deadpool,” the foul-mouthed, irreverent, super-meta action-comedy that turned the superhero genre on its head. More importantly, it’s been a phenomenal smash hit that’s blown up the conventional wisdom and caution around R-rated films. In its opening weekend, “Deadpool” shattered all records, earning biggest opening weekend for an R-rated movie with $132 million, and bested the nearest R-rated superhero movie by nearly 60%. Worldwide, it’s already cracked $500 million in two weeks and looks like it will dominate the box office for a third weekend in a row. Suffice it to say, the #Deadpooleffect looks like it will be impacting Hollywood for the foreseeable future.
We recently caught up with the “Deadpool” screenwriters, exec-producers, and guardians, Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, who stewarded the project through six years of development. They spoke about its explosive performance, believing in the project through the ups and downs, and cautioning Hollywood’s potential knee-jerk reaction in trying to replicate its success. In our latest piece from that conversation, the filmmakers also delved deep into the sequel to "Deadpool" (which has already been green-lit), the roadmap timeline to the connected “X-Men” universe, plans for “Deadpool” offshoot “X-Force,” and some of the other projects they’ve had cooking over the years.
The writers are well onto their way into writing the “Deadpool” followup and essentially confirmed the tease of the character Cable in the end credits is definitely there for a reason. “Yeah, we’re on that path,” Wernick said about including Cable in the sequel. "We teased him in the coda, we’re sticking to those plans and are having a great time writing.” And according to Heroic Hollywood, that path may include adding Cable's love interest Domino to the mix.
The screenwriters previously had mentioned that villains Garrison Kane, Sluggo, and Wire were included in original “Deadpool” drafts, but it’s unlikely you’ll see them in part two. “You probably won’t [see them in the sequel],” Reese admitted, “But maybe in future go-rounds.”
What are the future go-rounds for “Deadpool” exactly? The sequel is definitely coming, and while it will probably still have minor “X-Men” connections like the return of Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead, one shouldn’t expect a full-blown crossover yet.
“Oh for sure, if you look at the ‘Iron Man’ model they had two 'Iron Man' [movies] before they had an ‘Avengers,’ and if left up to us, I think that would be a very prudent path,” Reese explained. "The second issue at hand is the 'X-Men' universe timeline. 'The X-Men' series is currently set in the 1980s, 'Deadpool,' is set three decades later in our present day."
“It’s a timeline that will eventually catch up I would imagine,” Wernick said. “But ['X-Men' producer] Simon [Kingberg’s] more the keeper of that universe and maybe we’ll see more X-Men playing in Deadpool’s sandbox and probably Deadpool playing in their sandbox at some point." But the writer also cautioned about merging the franchises too soon.
"Deadpool’s now become a brand and franchise unto himself, independent of the ‘X-Men' and that’s great,” Wernick continued. “And that gives the studio two franchises in one, but I think it is its own franchise, and you’ll see synergy between those two properties, but they’re two very distinct brands.”
What about “X-Force,” the more militant and aggressive "X-Men" offshoot that was first run by the aforementioned Cable in the comics? Well, Cable definitely suggests another roadmap to that team, and the screenwriters say they’ll be involved. “We will have a hand in it,” Wernick said. “I think everything that ‘Deadpool’ is involved in we will have a hand in and it’s a universe that Ryan [Reynolds] and us are very close to and very protective of, so I do think we would absolutely involved in that franchise as well. If it’s Deadpool relate, I think you’ll see some of our fingerprints on that.”
Over the years the screenwriting duo has had several projects in development; a would-be directorial debut called “Spiderhead,” they were the writers on the project “Cowboy Ninja Viking,” and “G.I. Joe: Retaliation.” And while they didn’t go into details why, Reese and Wernick said they’re not involved with those projects any longer, clarifying to say that “Deadpool 2,” the recently announced sci-fi project “Life” with Rebecca Ferguson and Ryan Reynolds, and “Zombieland 2,” the latter of which they’re only executive producers on, were the only properties currently on the go (“We only need to do it if it’s done right,” they said of their zombie sequel).
About “Life,” which is slated to shoot this summer, they say it will tonally be the exact opposite from anything audiences have seen from them yet. “If 'Deadpool' the goal was to make you laugh, with ‘Life’ the goal is to make you sweat,” Reese explained.
Writers are often undervalued in Hollywood, delivering a script and then moving on, but Reese and Wernick were an unusually big part of “Deadpool.” The screenwriters were on set every day, exec-producers who were in the editing room, and even worked with the marketing teams alongside Ryan Reynolds, who they described as “tireless” in his efforts to promote the film. “We can’t take all the credit for [the marketing team’s] amazing work,” Rheese explained. “But we did do a lot; everything from coming up with slogans and catchphrases to writing and directing viral videos. Like the studio, they were willing to think very far outside the box which made it very fun.”
One of the hurdles of “Deadpool” was bartering for which “X-Men” characters the duo could get. In early drafts they had a Wolverine cameo, and the appearance of Taskmaster, but eventually had to settle on Colossus and the virtually unknown Negasonic Teenage Warhead — two characters that currently don’t conflict with the Bryan Singer-directed “X-Men” world. But now that “Deadpool,” is a hit, they suspect they'll be allowed access to more high profile mutants.
“I think we’ve established ourselves as a franchise now and as much as they trusted us to make this movie, I think they now trust us even more,” Wernick said. “So I think we’ll be able to sneak into the garage and pull out the Ferrari every once in a while and take it for a spin.”
“Deadpool” is in theaters now.