The upcoming Ryan Reynolds-led Deadpool is surprising for a number of reasons. Besides getting a rare second chance after filmmakers botched the so-called “Merc with a Mouth” in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. While this movie isn’t officially in the coveted Marvel Cinematic Universe, Deadpool is instead part of 20th Century Fox and Marvel deal that has kept X-Men movies churning out there for the past 15 years. But just how did an R-rated movie about a highly cynical, semi-obscure character get to headline his own movie. It turns out the old “It’s not what you know, but who you know” adage is true, especially with superheroes.
In an interview with Collider, screenwriters Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese talk about the long-gestating script that culminated in the standalone Deadpool movies finally getting in front of movie camera lenses after half a decade in development. Eventually, none other than bona fide auteurs James Cameron and David Fincher had a hand in passing along the script to the right people.
At first, the screenwriting pair of Wernick and Reese were skeptical that the movie would even get made, especially when they saw how popular the original Avengers movie was. Reese explained:
“One of the lowest moments was when we turned in the script on the day The Avengers came out, a Friday, and The Avengers made what, over 200 and some million dollars opening weekend? And we thought for sure, ‘How do you read this script as an executive on that particular weekend and not greenlight this Monday morning?’ and instead we got the word on Monday morning that Fox was gonna kind of rethink, given the success of The Avengers, rethink Deadpool possibly within the context of an ensemble as opposed to by himself, and we just went, ‘Ugh!’ so that was a low moment.”
But then a little nudge from Cameron and Fincher, who are friends with Deadpool Director Tim Miller, jump-started the project. Reese explained further:
“We had some angels on our shoulder too, this movie had some very quiet unsung heroes. One of them was Jim Cameron, who’s a friend of Tim Miller, and read the script at a key moment a few years back. He said he would read it and we were like, [Sarcastically] ‘Oh yeah, he will read it.’ And literally he read it that night and got back to us the next morning.”
“But he read it and he went to [Fox Chairman and CEO] Jim Gianopulos and he got it on the radar in a really big way. David Fincher was another guy who was a big help for us, he’s also a friend of Tim’s, and he loved the script and he pushed forward with the executives at certain key moments. Having guys like Fincher and Cameron pushing certainly didn’t hurt and we very well might not be sitting here if it hadn’t been for those two guys.”
So Deadpool fans take heed: Make sure to thank Cameron and Fincher the next time you see them.
While it’s fascinating to think both filmmakers are some kind of tag team magic movie fairies that get other people’s’ projects up and running, Wernick and Reese were also quick to point out that those two weren’t solely responsible for revitalizing the Deadpool project. They cite Simon Kinberg, producer of X-Men: Days of Future Past, as the movie’s real trailblazer.
“The ultimate angel on our shoulder really was Simon Kinberg. When he came aboard it really did kind of move what was delayed to blazing superhero speed and ‘let’s make this movie,’” Wernick said, while Reese added, “I think Simon in a way was probably most responsible, just his understanding of comics, his understanding of this character.”
It seemed like it took a real team of facilitators to put this potentially troublesome project together. I’m sure they’d like nothing more for you to prove to them it was worth the hassle when Deadpool hits theaters on February 12, 2016.