An R-rated comic book adaptation with a foul-mouthed, self-aware protagonist who loves to break the fourth wall and poke fun at movies made by the same studio that are technically part of the same franchise hardly sounds like a passion project, but that’s exactly what Deadpool was for Ryan Reynolds.
The actor had been trying to make the film since 2004, and while the superhero boom was in full effect by then, he wasn’t anywhere near to being enough of a star at the time to get such a potentially risky project given the green light. Reynolds didn’t make his onscreen debut as Wade Wilson until five years later, and the circumstances were hardly ideal.
He admitted that he signed on to X-Men Origins: Wolverine for the sole reason that somebody else wasn’t cast as the Merc with a Mouth, only for the character to be butchered by the studio, leaving both Reynolds and the fans massively disappointed. He persevered, though, and seven years later Deadpool finally hit the big screen, with the overwhelmingly positive reception to the leaked test footage proving to be the catalyst.
It took a lot to convince Fox, however, and the project was only handed a budget of $58 million, which is positively minuscule by the modern standards of the genre. Despite this, the leading man looked at it as a positive, and he recently revealed a major lesson he took from the Deadpool creative team having to make the most of what they were given.
“Every time the studio took money away from our budget, we replaced whatever set piece we lost with character. Eventually that became the hallmark and defining characteristic of that property. People don’t remember saving-the-world kind of nonsense. They remember what he said, or how he reacted to a moment. To me, that lesson is worth its weight in gold, because you can penetrate the zeitgeist and make an impression without spending a ton of money, without busting the bank.”
As we all know, Deadpool raked in over $780 million at the box office to become the highest-grossing R-rated movie ever made, a trick that was repeated by the sequel. Of course, it’s also now a multi-billion dollar property that’s part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so things worked out pretty well in the end.