Nowadays, Deadpool is arguably one of the most recognizable Marvel heroes, thanks to his first standalone movie proving to be a critical and commercial success back in 2016. That’s a sharp turn of fortunes compared to where the character was under a decade ago, though, as 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine completely dropped the ball with the beloved anti-hero.
What did work, however, was casting Ryan Reynolds in the part, with the star eventually getting to make the Merc with a Mouth his own. But Reynolds’ connection with Wade Wilson actually goes back even further than 2009. The story goes that the actor read Deadpool and Cable #2 in April 2004 and was delighted by the joke that described Wade as “Ryan Renolds [sic] crossed with a shar-pei.” From then on, he decided he wanted to play the character.
As luck would have it, Marvel was developing a Deadpool movie at the time with David S. Goyer (The Dark Knight) attached to direct, as well as write the script with Mark Millar (Kick-Ass). Goyer, who’d previously worked with Reynolds on Blade: Trinity, another Marvel film, approached him to star and he readily accepted. However, rights complications prevented the project from going ahead, due to Deadpool’s close ties to the X-Men universe.
Once the Regeneratin’ Degenerate was introduced in Wolverine, Fox then decided to move forward with a Deadpool solo outing. Reynolds was still attached, of course, and it was officially announced over the prequel’s opening weekend. The intensely negative reaction to Merc’s depiction in that film gave the studio cold feet, though, and the idea fell dormant yet again. You might remember that it wasn’t until that fateful leaked test footage arrived online, and quickly went viral, that the project was finally reignited.
It’s fascinating to know that things might have been very different for the character but, all in all, everything obviously worked out for the best. Deadpool was the perfect antidote to the current glut of superhero movies, which is potentially why it became so successful, and no doubt, Fox will hoping to repeat that success when Deadpool 2 arrives on May 18th.