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15 Deadpool Secrets to Prove That Making the Film Took Maximum Effort

Ryan Reynolds redefined his career with the wild superhero film Deadpool, which hit theaters five years ago on Feb. 12, 2016. The movie's team shares exclusive secrets with E! News.

By Ryan Gajewski Feb 12, 2021 11:00 AMTags
Watch: Ryan Reynolds Says "Deadpool" Took 11 Years to Make

"Maximum effort" isn't just a catchphrase for Deadpool, the smart-mouthed mercenary who first popped up in Marvel comics in 1991 before forever changing what a superhero film franchise can look like. Indeed, "maximum effort" also describes what it took to turn the character into one of Hollywood's most beloved and irreverent properties. 

A longtime passion project for star and producer Ryan Reynolds, the film was anything but a carefree joy ride to bring to the screen. After the actor debuted the character in 2009's X-Men Origins: Wolverine, a Deadpool script was finished by 2010 but languished in development hell for years until Fox finally gave it the green light in 2014.

The movie broke barriers for so many reasons. It was a rare R-rated superhero movie but also one that wasn't afraid to have fun and shatter the fourth wall. At the time, this very much went against the template established by more faithful films like director Sam Raimi's Spider-Man franchise, or Christopher Nolan's dour Dark Knight trilogy. 

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Every Time Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds Have Trolled Each Other

Even Deadpool's Feb. 12, 2016 release date was a bit of a head-scratcher for Hollywood's status quo, since everyone knows a superhero film is supposed to come out in the summer. Right? Think again, as its whopping $783.1 million worldwide sum on a relatively miniscule $58 million budget proved that director Tim Miller and his squad did everything right, even if they had a hard time hearing it at the time. 

In honor of its fifth anniversary, E! News spoke with character creator Rob Liefeld and cast members Brianna Hildebrand (Negasonic Teenage Warhead) and Stefan Kapičić (Colossus) to learn 15 exclusive secrets. During the chats, the film's team discussed Blake Lively's adorable visit to see her husband on the set, the surprise budget cuts that caused Ryan stress and what's next for the foul-mouthed franchise now that Disney is in charge. 

1. Ryan Reynolds Is Not His Character

There's no question that Ryan was the one person who would not let the project die. In fact, the star has become so synonymous with Deadpool that fans sometimes forget it's not a documentary.

"I did get a lot of questions at conventions about if Ryan is an ass," Brianna says. "There's a conception that he's a lot like Deadpool, but he's just really funny and a really big sweetheart, actually. My favorite times on set were when he brought his kids because he became 'mushy dad,' and it was really cute."

2. How Do We Sign Up for the Blake Lively Catering Service?

The film was shot in Vancouver, and Brianna recalls that Ryan's wife, Blake Lively, would visit the set with treats. "Blake, like the best wife ever, would bring him lunch all the time," the Lucifer actress recalls. "I was like, 'What the hell's going on? Where's my lunch?'" she continues with a laugh.

3. The Script Was Sitting on a Shelf Until a Talking Raccoon Changed Everything

By 2010, Zombieland writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick had handed in a script for a stand-alone Deadpool film that blew Rob away. Although their script contained all the key components that would appear in the finished film, Fox was reluctant to give the go-ahead.

"The screenplay that I read from Paul and Rhett in 2010 is the same movie you saw in 2016, but it just sat there for six years," says Rob. He points out that the only key changes were some elements and scenes being pared down in the actual film. 

Things finally changed when Deadpool test footage was leaked in the summer of 2014 and earned a rabid online response. Then, weeks later, Guardians of the Galaxy was a huge summer hit for Disney. Rob says that a former Fox exec told him that the Monday after Guardians' opening weekend, Fox quickly hit the green light on Deadpool, armed with the confidence that a comedic-leaning film about a group of less-heralded heroes could still find an audience.

4. Tim Miller Ended Up in the Director's Chair After More Established Names Declined

Rob recalls that Spy Kids director Robert Rodriguez was on the verge of signing on to direct, way back in summer of 2011, but ultimately turned it down. Then Hot Fuzz director Edgar Wright was offered the project before Tim Miller, a visual-effects specialist who had never directed a feature film, landed the gig. 

"Tim was hungry to prove how much he could flex, and I think you see it with the action, with the special effects, with the performances," says Rob, who praises Tim for making the film look so impressive despite its limited budget. He also credits the director for creating Deadpool's interactive eyes, which "gave us the land of a thousand memes," Rob quips.

Stefan Kapičić was appreciative of the low-key atmosphere that Tim managed to create amid the high level of pressure. "Tim has this specific and amazing way to make you relax, and can wake the talent that you don't even know you have," the Colossus actor explains. "He's maybe the best director that I've worked with."

5. Olivia Munn or Taylor Schilling as Vanessa?

A number of recognizable names were considered for the role of Wade Wilson's love interest, Vanessa, including Orange Is the New Black star Taylor Schilling. Additionally, Olivia Munn has said that she turned down the role because she didn't want to just play a girlfriend. Ultimately, Morena Baccarin was cast in the part.

As for Negasonic Teenage Warhead, it was the first major Hollywood role for then-teenager Brianna, who had forgone college because she wanted to become a singer-songwriter. According to the actress, who shaved her head just before her audition, hundreds of others were considered for the role until it ultimately came down to herself and another performer. "I think they initially wanted somebody of Asian descent, so I know she was Asian, but I don't literally don't know who she was," Brianna says of her competition. 

6. Where Were All the Other Mutants?

A running gag throughout the franchise is the fact that so few X-Men characters appear in the films, as Colossus and Negasonic are pretty much it. Rob explains that more of his characters were included in previous concepts of the film, including Cable and Garrison Kane, but they were jettisoned to really keep the focus on the title character. 

Brianna believes that her hero was chosen because not much is spelled out about her in the comics, giving the filmmakers something of a blank canvas. In fact, Negasonic has the power of telepathy in the source material, but the film instead grants her the ability to self-detonate. 

"When I got the audition, it was in her description that she did use telepathy, and then I read the script and didn't see it, so I was just confused," Brianna shares. "I think that they decided detonation was maybe a better visual."

7. Where's "Handsome Ryan" When You Need Him?

In order to capture the disfigured look of his character following experimental cancer treatment gone wrong, Ryan spent upwards of six to eight hours in the makeup chair daily to film those scenes. Rob says that Ryan always maintained his upbeat spirit throughout the process, even if Rob himself might have preferred to let Ryan maintain his unblemished face for as long as possible. 

"Oh, my gosh, we have to show Handsome Ryan!" he jokes about his reaction at the time, particularly regarding the sequel. "For the ladies—and my wife!" Rob acknowledges he was quite relieved that the sequel at least contained some flashbacks to Wade's pre-tortured self.

8. Ryan Keeps You on Your Toes

Improv was encouraged on set, as Ryan has such a gift of gab. "Ryan and the writers would always come up with new stuff, and that was really fun," Brianna recalls. "I basically just countered him for all of it. I would say he did most of the ad-libbing because my character's less of a talker." 

9. Allowing More People to See Themselves as Superheroes

Ryan has said that his version of Deadpool identifies as pansexual, and while this is not something that Rob initially thought of when he created the character 30 years ago, he couldn't be happier with the choice. 

"I would love to tell you that 22-year-old Rob Liefeld was thinking that way when I created him, but that wasn't something I was focused on," the artist says. "Do I welcome, love, embrace what Ryan has done in expanding and adding to the diversity? 100 percent. I see how it has affected kids all over the world. We're going to place that at Ryan's feet, and we're all the better for it."

Meanwhile, Brianna—whose character is an out member of the LGBTQ+ community in the sequel—similarly feels honored to connect with fans who appreciate the choice. "It's been great to meet people who it really means something to, to have an out superhero in general," she says.

10. Do Superhero Suits Come in Wool?

Since the movie was filmed in Vancouver, the cast dealt with chilly weather at times. "The opening scene on the highway overpass was really intense to film," Brianna says. "We filmed it over three days, and the first day was fine, but the second and third days, it started to rain and sleet and hail, so that was really a lot." 

She adds with a laugh, "I remember being really cold, but we were all suffering together."

11. The Real Man of Steel

Rob is grateful for Tim's vision of Colossus, who is constantly bailing Deadpool out of trouble. "Colossus looks and feels the way he does because Tim made certain that Colossus was big, formidable and then had that funny Russian accent," Rob says.

Stefan, who played the metallic X-Men member through voiceover and motion capture, is proud that his character was able to remain so selfless and supportive for Deadpool. "I cannot find the words to explain how happy I was, and how happy I am today when I look back on what we did," the Serbian actor says.

12. Penny-Pinching During Production

The film's $58 million budget is surprisingly lean compared to most blockbuster action films. As Brianna recalls, Fox informed the film's team even after shooting had begun that the studio was trimming the budget. "Ryan was stressed about that," she acknowledges. 

Rob puts the monetary constraints in a more comedic way. "My favorite quote when Ryan was doing the rounds promoting Deadpool was when he said in one of the interviews, 'The budget for our movie was the cocaine budget for other films.'"

13. All's Well That Ends Well

Despite an arduous process and endless uncertainty, the film brought in a stunning $152.2 million over its opening four-day holiday weekend. The phenomenal success meant forthcoming sequels, and for the cast, a lifetime of getting recognized.

"People call me Sinead O'Connor all the time," Brianna says with a laugh about a memorable line from the film. "It's mostly people saying Deadpool's lines at me. I spend my conventions being yelled at by other people dressed as Deadpool." 

14. Tim Leaves the Franchise Over "Artistic Differences"

Often, when a director scores a massive tentpole hit, it's a given that they'll return for the follow-up. This was not the case here, as Tim initially signed on to direct Deadpool 2 but ended up leaving the project. He was replaced by David Leitch.

"I was sad that Tim wasn't able to come back for the sequel, but artistic differences are there for a reason," Rob says cryptically, without getting into details. "Tim's version of Deadpool 2 was different."

For her part, Brianna says she was "surprised" that Tim didn't return, but she points out that it didn't really seem to affect the franchise in a major way. "Those kinds of movies, they sort of roll with their own pace," she shares. "So many people are involved that it's going to keep going, no matter the director."

15. Deadpool, Meet Mickey Mouse

The announcement that Deadpool will join Disney's Marvel Cinematic Universe was exciting for fans who have been yearning to see the Merc With a Mouth tussling with some of Marvel's top-tier creations. But there has also been uncertainty about how Disney would approach future films, given that they don't typically make movies that are R-rated or, you know, show people's heads flying off.

For now, Disney appears willing to keep the Deadpool franchise the way it is, and everyone involved seems optimistic about the arrangement. "I've heard random things from random people about Disney trying not to touch it as much because that's what makes it special," Brianna says. "I'm excited to see what happens.'

For Rob, it all goes back to his trust in Ryan's instincts. "I know Ryan—he won't compromise the character, and that's great news for fans," he says. "Because he doesn't need to be Deadpool ever again. If he does it, it's because he loves it, and he wants to give us a story that is personal to him." 

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