Everyone in the world, it seems, has seen Deadpool by now; in its opening weekend, the foul-mouthed superhero broke box-office records as brazenly as fourth walls. With the entire population of the world seemingly caught up, we chatted to its star and producer, Ryan Reynolds, and the film’s screenwriters, Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, to uncover some hidden truths on the freshly cinematic Merc With A Mouth.
1. A PG-13 version of the Deadpool script was written to appease the studio
During Deadpool’s extended time in development hell, Reynolds and the writers wrote a slightly sanitised, family-friendlier version of the script to keep nervous studio execs happy. “At one point we wrote a PG-13 version of the script,” Reynolds told us, “because they would absolutely not discuss an R-rated version of Deadpool.”
“It was tough. We had to retrofit all of this action to make it PG-13. It was a really frustrating position to be in. You gotta let Deadpool be free! He’s a fish! He needs to swim!” Happily, 20th Century Fox did eventually relent, and the finished version is gloriously R-rated.
2. Taskmaster, Wolverine and Professor X were all mooted to appear
Reynolds and the writers had “endless” debates with Fox over which supporting X-Men they were allowed to include. "Taskmaster was in the script originally. Too expensive,” Reynolds said. “We had versions where Hugh Jackman was in there, but it just becomes a big mess for the studio - schedules, money, everything.”
You gotta let Deadpool be free! He’s a fish! He needs to swim!
Reynolds continued: “We went through such hell developing the script, and developing which X-Men we could keep, and which we couldn’t. It turned into such a nightmare. The studio would just say: ‘too expensive, too expensive’ to everybody."
Co-writer Rhett Reese also noted that “we talked about doing something with Professor X”. But aside from an occasional visit to his mansion, and a cheeky Stewart/McAvoy reference, the Professor is nowhere to be seen. Hugh Jackman is seen, but only in paper mask form.
3. Deadpool’s baby hand is a real baby hand
One of the most memorable sequences in the film sees Deadpool saw off his own hand with a small knife; over the course of the film, we see it slowly grow back through the magic of his mutant regenerative abilities. Co-writer Paul Wernick admitted that for this scene, he recruited his young progeny into a bizarre cameo. “That’s actually my daughter’s hand,” he told us. “Digitally manipulated, but it’s hers. She was on set that day, and the visual effects guys used her hand as a reference. That is going to be her claim to fame. Hopefully not her only claim to fame...”
Deadpool is a ferocious masturbator. Like, gladiator-style.
It takes on a particularly creepy tone when, as Reynolds points out, Deadpool likes to use that tiny hand for somewhat smutty means. “Deadpool is a ferocious masturbator in the movie,” Reynolds remarked. “Like, gladiator-style. He’s like a wild lion. Hungry and horny, all at once.”
4. The post-credits sting almost included a Cable cameo
One of Deadpool’s two post-credit sequences included the hero heavily hinting at a future appearance from militarised telepathic mutant Cable. The typically cheeky sequence almost took a different form. “We went so far as to see if we could actually cast and costume Cable, and find some way to introduce him somehow,” Reynolds revealed. In the end, they opted for a sly parody of Ferris Bueller. “We felt like the Ferris Bueller feel was so perfect for Deadpool’s meta pop culture references. We shot that in five minutes.”
5. Rob Liefeld was not creatively involved in the movie
Deadpool co-creator Rob Liefeld has been an enthusiastic champion of the film, with a highly visible presence on social media. But the writers did not take script notes from him. “We owe everything to Rob,” insisted Rhett Reese. “He created the character. But he was actually not involved in the movie, other than being a relentless cheerleader. He sparked the fans to react strongly on the internet - and he was invaluable in that aspect. The reason this movie got made was the fanbase; Rob was heavily responsible for whipping them up into a frenzy.”
6. Ryan Reynolds wrote much of his own sweary dialogue
Having been involved in the development of the film for over a decade, Reynolds could almost be credited as a co-writer, and enjoyed conjuring some of the more creative cursing in the movie. “I think of it like a sport,” he told us. “It’s as much about the push sound out of the mouth as it is the meaning of the words. When you call somebody a “wheezing bag of dick tips”, that flows off the tongue well, more so than “you jerk!”. You have to editorialise the whole thing. You have to get a visual sense of what’s happening to this bag of dick tips.” The phrase ‘shit-spackled muppet fart’ is a Reynolds original.
7. X-Men Origins: Wolverine was a helpfully low bar
X-Men Origins: Wolverine is notable for a couple of reasons: one, it marks the first on-screen appearance of Deadpool; and two, it is famously rubbish. Co-writer Paul Wernick said the treatment of the Deadpool in that movie “was almost a gift. They did it SO wrong, as everyone pretty much now admits. We couldn’t have fucked it up any worse than they did. That’s a little bit freeing as a writer – to know that you can improve on the last iteration.”
Reynolds, for his part, is a little more philosophical on that early folly, noting that it was a victim of the late 2007 Hollywood writer’s strike. “I always had the same objective,” Reynolds explained. “I always wanted to make the most faithful Deadpool adaptation that anyone could ever conceive of. When you’re dealing with studio politics, that’s a big, tough machine to deal with. [At one point], a studio executive just said, “well naturally, we have to sew his mouth shut”. He didn’t know that he was about to anger a legion of highly militarised fans! It was kinda sad.”
8. Writing for a self-aware character is the most fun it’s possible to have as a writer
Writing for the fourth-wall-breaking Deadpool is “more fun than you can ever imagine,” says Wernick. “It’s a huge blessing as a writer to break all the rules. Sometimes we marvel that we ever got paid to write this.”
Reese agreed that it was an unusual gig. “As a writer-for-hire, you indulge in a lot of self-censorship. You have an inner voice which always says “that’s too crazy, they’ll never go for that”. With this, we got to take that voice out of the equation. Every crazy idea we had, we thought, 'oh, what the hell! Let’s throw it in there and see what happens.'”
9. Work on the sequel is well underway
Though yet to be officially confirmed by the studio, a sequel is reported to be in the works, and given that astonishingly strong box-office, is all but inevitable. Reynolds confirmed that he and the writers are “well into a script”, observing that “there’s 25 years of comics to draw from.”
Reese agreed that “Deadpool is not a character lacking in potential storylines. We have a lot of ideas. There are a lot of other characters and antagonists and possible team-up partners. Deadpool is a lunatic. You can pair him with just about anybody and see sparks fly.
Deadpool is in cinemas now.