Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool in 2009's "X-Men Origins: Wolverine." (20th Century Fox)
While marquee superheroes like Batman and Superman hogged most of the San Diego Comic-Con spotlight a few weeks ago, there was another famous comic book character who made a surprisingly big splash: Deadpool.
The wise-cracking Marvel Comics antihero last appeared on the big screen in 2009’s “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” (played by Ryan Reynolds). But despite having a script, a director, and a willing star in Reynolds, a standalone “Deadpool” movie has been stuck in development hell for years.
However, thanks to footage of the superhero's much-talked-about Comic-Con appearance going viral, the “Deadpool” movie is now closer to becoming a reality than ever before. Capitalizing on all the post-Comic-Con buzz, “Deadpool” screenwriter Rhett Reese (“Zombieland”) took to Twitter this week to implore fans of the character for help.
So, just who exactly is Deadpool? Basically, Deadpool (also known as Wade Wilson) is one of the few good things to come out of comic books in the 1990s (it was a bit of a rough time for the industry). A hideously disfigured and slightly insane mutant who works as a mercenary, the character possesses an incredible healing ability (not unlike Wolverine) and frequently breaks the fourth wall to address the reader directly.
You see, Deadpool actually knows he’s a comic book character and acts accordingly, often joking about it with other superheroes and villains (who are completely oblivious). The character was part of a crop of popular Marvel Comics antiheroes created by artist Rob Liefeld and writer Fabian Nicieza in the early 1990s.
How did we get here?
“X-Men Origins: Wolverine” was meant to be a launch pad of sorts for a “Deadpool” spin-off movie. Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds played Wade Wilson (both pre- and post-disfigurement) with the intention of reprising the role of Deadpool in his own movie.
The depiction of the character in “Origins” was not so great, though. While Reynolds’s Deadpool most certainly lived up to his “Merc with the Mouth” reputation in the first half of the film, the chatty character literally has his mouth sewn shut during the final act. Great plan! The critical failure and disappointing box office performance of “X-Men Origins” resulted in many of the studio’s spin-off plans (including a rumoured Gambit movie starring Taylor Kitsch) being shelved. However, that didn’t stop people with a love for the character (including Reynolds) from trying to get the “Deadpool” movie made.
Fast forward to July 2014. According to Escapist Magazine, a piece of test footage (created in 2012) for a standalone “Deadpool” movie was reportedly obtained by hackers and released online around the same time as Comic-Con, leading many to believe it was an official "leak" from Fox or Blur Studios. Featuring the voice and performance of Reynolds and produced by director Tim Miller and his company Blur Studio, the computer generated sequence highlights the ultraviolent and self-aware tone that a feature length "Deadpool" movie might have. Fox quickly began removing the footage from the Internet, but not before plenty of fans saw it.
In the day or so since Reese posted his Deadpool tweet, his call to action has received more than 35,000 retweets (and counting!). It's very unusual for Hollywood folks to turn to the fans for a grassroots campaign like this, but the creative team behind "Deadpool" are obviously having issues getting Fox's attention.
While collecting Twitter "signatures" in order to gauge interest is a fairly new idea, petitions and write-in campaigns like this are nothing new in Hollywood. Sadly, they rarely bear fruit, particularly where Fox is concerned. Actor David Duchovny has been urging "X-Files" fans for years to write to the studio to encourage them to greenlight a third "X Files" movies, to no avail. However, while director Joss Whedon's cult TV series "Firefly" was never revived on the small screen, an aggressive letter-writing campaign to bring back the show actually helped get the movie version, "Serenity," the greenlight.
UPDATE Aug. 8, 3:20 p.m.: Yahoo Movies Canada reached out to Tim Miller to ask if he had any advice to "Deadpool" fans who want to see a movie get made.
"I would say--'less anger more love,'" Miller said. "Fans saying how much they love Wade Wilson will win hearts and minds."
There's clearly some major interest in a "Deadpool" movie among fans, but despite all the Internet buzz, the ball remains in Fox's court. How many retweets will be enough to convince them that this is a good idea?
UPDATE August 11, 7:41 p.m. ET: A previous version of this story incorrectly reported that Fox had screened the "Deadpool" footage at Comic-Con, and that bootleg copies appeared online soon after. In fact, the footage was reportedly obtained and leaked by hackers and had nothing to do with Fox or Blur studios. We regret the error.