A visit to the Vancouver set of the Deadpool movie
I shouldn’t be here. It defies all odds that a kid from Alabama who grew up reading one particular movie website would go on to work for them, but compared to where I am now that seems like a coin toss.
I’m in Vancouver. On the set of the Deadpool movie. A movie that many had given up hope on, that many assumed would never actually see the light of day, but I can see Ryan Reynolds in a complete Deadpool costume from where I’m standing. Fighting goons in ways that only the Merc with a Mouth can. It’s not a dream, it’s happening, and even Reynolds knows how surreal it is that we’re all here.
“It was pretty faint after ‘Green Lantern,’” he tells us with a smile when asked about a time it seemed darkest for the movie. “Darkest days, brightest nights, wasn’t looking so good then.”
For over six years, the Deadpool movie has been in development, stemming from the poorly-received X-Men Origins: Wolverine (which will be referenced in the film), but the fire never died for Reynolds, who attributes production happening to the relentlessness of director Tim Miller.
“Tim sorta kept the faith in a way that I didn’t even, I mean there was a time where I just thought I just gotta let it go. It was like the worst relationship I’d ever been in. It was on/off, on/off. We created this test footage that I thought spoke volumes about the character and what we could do with it and that never saw the light of day. Until Tim leaked it.”
Miller interjects to make it clear that he did not leak the test footage, which created a firestorm online for the film when it spread across the internet last summer.
“I say that in every interview by the way,” Reynolds smirks. “That was the weirdest green light I’ve ever heard of, because they didn’t tell us, they just dated the movie… There was a bit of a fever pitch after this test footage leaked and suddenly we just see that, in the trades, like everybody else, oh, they dated ‘Deadpool’ for February 2016 and we all sort of look at each other and go, ‘We’re either all making a movie or we’ve all just been summarily fired.’”
Though we’re standing on location in a scrapyard, a nearby tent houses concept art for the film, depicting various scenes from the movie. Among those we’re shown include a naked Deadpool (in his scared-up glory) standing in the middle of a fruit market, Deadpool’s apartment (where copies of Deadpool comic books can be seen sitting on the coffee table), confrontations between some of the film’s characters, and a message from Deadpool to the film’s antagonist spelled out in bodies on the deck of a ship.
It’s not just a ship though. Informed fans will no doubt notice that the structure where the finale of the film takes place is actually a busted up helicarrier rotting away in the junk yard, a not-so subtle jab at rival Marvel Studios who have used the airship in a number of their films. The meta-awareness of the comic book genre won’t end there either.
“I just think there’s nothing else that occupies a space quite like (Deadpool) in any universe,” Reynolds says. “And it’s been like that for a long time. So in a weird way, waiting might have served us better than anything, because now’s the time for a movie like this in a way that five, six, seven years ago might not have been.”
When asked if it was that zany tone that would set the Deadpool movie apart from the likes of its competitors, a fired up Reynolds replied:
“Well, every comic book movie I go to nobody f***ing dies! I mean, everybody’s getting shot at, it’s like an episode of ‘The A-Team.’ Everyone’s shooting the ground! So, we get an opportunity to do this in a way that follows all the scripture that Deadpool’s laid out, which is fourth-wall breaking, which is that kind of mercenary sensibility and humor and then we also have this opportunity, which is very rare in this world, to do something that’s not necessarily for just kids. There’s some pretty racy, pretty hyper-violent things that happen in this movie and it’s been a lot of fun to shoot.”
Deadpool’s trademark humor is the heart of the film as screenwriter Rhett Reese, who co-wrote the script with his Zombieland writing partner Paul Wernick, points out.
“Really it all flows from the character,” Reese says. “The character is very irreverent, he’s very edgy, he’s very silly, he’s borderline psychotic, and I think all of those flow right into the tone. We love this tone, we were really given a gift when we got to write this character and all the other characters in a way become straight men to Deadpool who’s the lunatic in the middle.”
The cast and crew may describe Deadpool as a lunatic, though the character won’t be completely at that stage when the film opens. Even by its closing credits, Deadpool won’t have reached the peak insanity of the source material.
“When we meet Wade he’s pretty acerbic and kind of funny in his own right, but not near the level of Deadpool,” Reynolds explains. “Deadpool’s just-he has zero ability to stop his mouth, so that’s referenced a number of times in the script and the other characters just would do anything to get him to shut up. Anything. Except maybe sew his mouth shut. No one’s doing that.”
“It’s not the hearing voices, we’re not doing that, he’s not schizophrenic or anything,” Reese says about the film’s Deadpool. “But he is as Ryan says, in a highly militarized shame spiral. So he’s very insecure, he is very vain, hates the way he looks, and the comics had given us the lead way to break the fourth wall, so in a way he’s just strangely omniscient, he can talk about the fact that he’s in a movie, he can talk about things that the character wouldn’t know and everyone around him is kind of like ‘What are you talking about?’”