The marketing team for Deadpool 2 must be feeling pretty pleased with themselves right about now. And quite rightly so – they’ve managed to create the funny, sarcastic series of promos that have entertained audiences so much. It’s actually been difficult to log on to social media over the past six months without seeing at least one mention of the upcoming film, and it’s all testament to the valiant efforts of custom emojis, risqué Tinder profiles and tastefully inappropriate posters. However, with great hype comes great expectations, and so it’s hard not to wonder whether Deadpool 2 is going to end up being a case of big overture, little show. You certainly don’t want the best thing about the film to be the trailer, but a series of rip-off movie posters featuring our favourite anti-superhero in an array of lewd positions has built enough excitement for us all to be at risk of a bit of a fall. Such reservations are misplaced though, because there’s one thing that’s guaranteed to be as successful in the second film as it was in the first, and that’s the casting of Ryan Reynolds as the titular Deadpool.
Wade Wilson was always going to be a difficult character to realise on the big screen – after all, he’s a crude, violent and invulnerable anti-hero. Deeply disturbed, his cutting sense of humour breaks the fourth wall entirely, often delivering gags direct to the audience, a quirk that has (luckily) been incorporated into the film as well. The “merc with the mouth” was actually originally depicted as a supervillain when the character first appeared in The New Mutants #98, before quickly becoming an anti-hero instead – altogether a complex and completely unpredictable character.
Bearing all of that in mind, it can’t be easy to find an actor able to carry all of that in one role, as well as being able to deliver the puns with undeniable ease. And let’s remember that Fox
didn’t get Deadpool quite right the first time round. Lest we forget his ill-fated first appearance on film in 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine. It’s not an overstatement to say that Origin’s depiction of the character was a bit of a mess. Whilst the depiction of Wade Wilson at the beginning of the film was pretty accurate, it was largely the look of his Deadpool alter ego that brought the side down, with Wilson being reimagined into a merc without a mouth – something that did nothing for either unfamiliar audiences, or die-hard fans. With Ryan Reynolds playing the role in both versions, the 2016 standalone could easily have turned into a continuation of the character in Origins. Luckily, Fox had the good sense to completely re-haul the character to align it more with the comic books, giving us the Deadpool we wanted to see on the big screen.
With such a stylised character in the comic books, and the risk of falling into the same trap as Origins, it became clear that they needed to bring in the violence and shameless humour from the comic books if they were going to be true to the source material – and to do that, they needed a strong comic actor to be able to carry the puns whilst still being able to keep up with the action. It’s a good thing they’d already cast Ryan Reynold’s back in 2009, as he may just be one of the only actors that could pull it off with such finesse.
For a long time there was one pigeonhole that Reynolds could never seem escape. We all remember his iconic turns in the early noughties teen flicks – from his breakout role in Van Wilder: Party Liaison (2002) to his hilariously glib performance in Waiting… (2005). A perfect example of the humour and charisma that the character of Deadpool needed, Waiting offered Reynolds the opportunity to contend for the scene stealing crown as the lecherous Monty, flirting with underage hostesses and planning how best to show his genitalia to his co-workers. With his comic timing and natural deadpan humour, it’s no surprise that Reynolds slipped into working with Deadpool’s fourth-wall breaking sarcasm with ease, bringing the franchise the same dry wit and self-deprecation that he offers his followers on social media.
However, because Reynold’s most memorable and entertaining work is his comedy, it does mean that his more serious roles tend to grate ever so slightly. The Voices (2014) is the perfect example of a film that, not for lack of trying, audiences struggle to take seriously. A film about serious mental illness, and depicting some pretty horrifying images, people didn’t really know what to make of it – partly down to the unusual choice of role for Reynolds. His consistently breezy tone makes it difficult to tell whether audiences are actually meant to be taking him seriously or not.
The same went for The Green Lantern (2011). Obviously that film had greater flaws than just its leading man, (Blake Lively, just as an example) however it is yet another example where Reynolds’ affinity for lightening the mood diminished the impact of the source material. Despite his talent for humour, Reynolds is often attracted to playing characters who are difficult to like, which unfortunately doesn’t always make for great leading man material – unless it’s an obnoxious teen flick such as Van Wilder.
Any forays Reynolds made into genres outside of his designated area would often result in a flop. However, while his serious roles have never been quite the right fit, it gave him the practice he needed to play a flawed character such as Deadpool. After some emotional heavy lifting in films such as The Voices and Buried (2010) we shouldn’t have been surprised to find out that the actor was capable of shouldering some of the more emotionally traumatic elements of the Deadpool’s origin story, as well bringing in that cutting humour he’s so famous for.
With rumours adrift that Deadpool 3 might be a done deal Fox may have shown their hand too early by announcing an X-Force movie that’s due to start shooting in October 2018. However, if you ignore fears that this second outing might be over-busy with heroes (although the strength of Infinity War should assuage any fears in this area) and focus on the fact that Ryan Reynolds was born to play Deadpool, then there can be no doubt that the sequel will more than live up to the hype of an extraordinarily well-informed promotional campaign.