In February of 2016, after 11 years of struggle, Deadpool was finally released in theaters. It was met with a huge reception. Created on a minuscule budget (at least in terms of your standard superhero film), Deadpool was a monumental success by all accounts, bringing in close to $800 million at the box office. It’s tough to nail down what’s more impressive about the movie, the fact that this R-rated superhero movie broke down all the supposed barriers that it encountered, or the fact that it lived up to insane hype it faced. Leading up to the release, people who had never even heard of Deadpool before the trailer, were talking about the hero like they were his biggest fans.
Deadpool, once a quirky antihero, was a sensation. For whatever reason, be it Deadpool’s sarcasm, his addictive meta-ness or his dark side, people latched onto him. Usually, adapting this type of character for the big screen means sure failure in our jaded world, just ask the X-Men Origins team. But Deadpool was different.
Thanks to the extreme popularity of the character and the film, “secrets” or unknowns about the set and production, the entire behind-the-scenes world, are very hard to come by. Some fans can catalogue how many times Reynolds went to the bathroom during the 48-day shoot. They eat this type of trivia for breakfast. But we’re not talking to those fans. In the 9 months or so since the release of Deadpool, several new details have come to light, and we want to share them with the world. Here are 15 behind the scenes secrets you didn’t know about Deadpool.
15. Forgotten Guns
Late into the creation process for Deadpool, the studios demanded that they cut costs by about 10%. This, for any production, is a massive undertaking. To make such significant cuts, the Deadpool team decided that they would add in some humor to the final battle and dramatically change the plan at the same time. In the comics, Deadpool has unlimited ammunition which allows him to keep up in huge shootouts. The final battle was meant to be one of these gigantic gun battles, but it needed to be dismantled. To do this, the writers had Deadpool simply forget his guns.
14. Ryan Reynolds And The Writers
When budget cuts started to dismantle all the perks that normal superhero movies enjoy, one of the first things announced was that the screenwriters, Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, were not to be on set making changes to the script. For the star, Ryan Reynolds, this was deeply disturbing because he felt that the writing and involved changes were essential to making this film a success. To fix it, Reynolds paid the writers from his own massive bank account, having them remain on set during the entire shoot. Reese, one of the writers, said, “We were on set every day. Interestingly, Ryan wanted us there, we were on the project for six years. It was really a core creative team of us, Ryan, and the director Tim Miller. Fox, interestingly, wouldn’t pay for us to be on set. Ryan Reynolds paid out of his own money, out of his own pocket.”
13. Three Villains Into One
Another budgetary change in Deadpool came through in the villains. Originally, there were three villains slated to appear (in addition to the main villain Ajax), as explained by one of the writers, Rhett Reese: “We consolidated, in the first draft, Ajax has really three underlings. It was Wyre, it was Garrison Kane and it was Sluggo. And then ultimately due to budget, we had to consolidate those into one character. And we wanted the movie to have a really strong kick-ass female presence. That was a mandate from Tim, so we introduced, we introduced Angel Dust as sort of a combination of those three to provide the muscle for Ajax.” Both Wyre, who has mentally commanded tendrils coming from his skin, and Garrison Kane, who has robotic arms that can change and morph, would require significant amounts of expensive CGI, so the team scrapped them for a villain like Angel Dust, who could just kick ass with her own fists.
12. Mutant Serum
There’s been a lot of discussion about the change that the film version of Deadpool brought about in the character’s roots. In the comics, Deadpool is not a mutant, though he tries desperately to pretend he is. Deadpool was born human and was given Wolverine’s healing ability, which allows him to regenerate and survive the incredible tests and torture he’s put through. This is similar in the film, but instead, they suggest that through the tests and torture, Deadpool’s “mutant genes” will be activated. While it sounds different, the filmmakers added in a little secret to stay true to the original story. When Wade Wilson is injected with the serum, you can see some drops of blood mixing around. This is likely a quick reference to the origin story, hinting that the blood is Wolverine’s blood, which would give Wade the healing ability.
11. Vietnam Protest Line
There’s a line in Deadpool that a number of articles have failed to connect properly, so, even though it’s not “behind-the-scenes,” we felt it was necessary to clear things up a bit. In the film, Wade says that the Special Forces weren’t all bad because he “got to travel the world…” Here, his friend Weasel (T.J. Miller) completes his sentence, “meet interesting people and kill them.” For keen-eared viewers, this is a line that Reynolds has used before, specifically in a promo for his Wade Wilson character in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. It’s also a line that’s been used countless times on TV and film, so people have drawn a bunch of unnecessary conclusions and connections, forgetting or not knowing where the saying first came from. It began as an anti-Vietnam war sentiment, published on T-shirts and posters in the 70s: “Join the army, travel the world, meet interesting people and kill them,” nothing more.
10. Stan Lee Cameo
Stan Lee, the president of Marvel Comics, makes a cameo in every Marvel film. Usually they’re quick, sometimes funny or silly, but usually forgettable. In Deadpool, we were promised something new and different, but we had heard that before. When the film came out, we saw that Lee was playing a strip club DJ, which was, admittedly, pretty funny. The truth is, however, Lee never stepped foot in a club to get the shots. It was all the magic of the movies. The best part is that Lee was actually upset about this, saying, “I don’t know if I should tell you the truth about that cameo. I was not in the topless dancing place. I did that in a studio and then they put it into the movie, and I’m damn mad about that!” Good on ya old man.
9. David Fincher And James Cameron
Having friends in high places almost always helps in any line of work. For the Deadpool writers, Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, having James Cameron and David Fincher on their side might have been the difference in getting this film greenlit in the end. Co-writer Reese explains, “They read the script each of them at two independent key moments during the script’s development. And each one of them was kind enough to go to 20th Century Fox and essentially throw in their good word just saying ‘Hey, what are you guys doing with Deadpool? You should be making this!'” Since the film sat around so long collecting dust, there was a strong chance it would be forgotten about without these two heavyweights weighing in says Reese: “I think a project that is dormant often just suffers from neglect, and I think having those powerful people weigh in at certain times just lodged with Fox and I think it had a cumulative effect more than anything.”
8. Destroyed Helicarrier
The final fight in Deadpool takes place on and around a down aircraft carrier. Marvel fans would instantly recognize the thing as a S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier, which it is… and isn’t. One of the writers of Deadpool described the process of creating the ship, saying “We wanted the carrier to be a Helicarrier,” said Reese, “but we couldn’t get the rights to that, so it was just a regular old kind of aircraft carrier.” When the director, Tim Miller, was asked about it, he said, “I just want to say for the record, there’s a lot of groups in the Marvel universe who use flying combat platforms. It’s not just the Helicarrier. A.I.M. (Advanced Idea Mechanics) has some. It could have been anything but a S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier. Because that would be outside of the purview of the Fox/Marvel arrangement.” While the ship was designed to be different than the S.H.I.E.L.D. ship, it was meant to trigger our minds, forcing us to make the association. “I really just wanted to hint at a larger connection to the rest of the Marvel universe,” said Miller.
7. Breaking Up Is Hard To Do
For some bonus coverage, we’ve gone behind the scenes for the upcoming sequel to Deadpool, Deadpool 2. It turns out that great success for a partnership in the film industry doesn’t always equal future comradery. Despite the monumental achievements of both Ryan Reynolds and Deadpool director Tim Miller in getting the first film off the ground, the two men couldn’t come to an agreement on how the second film should be handled, leading Miller to walk away from the sequel. Insiders on the set have suggested that Miller wanted Deadpool 2 to have an extremely high budget and come closer to one of the major Marvel titles in size and scope. Reynolds did not agree with this, saying the film needed to stay true to the original, remaining small and scrappy. While reports say that the two are still friendly, the disagreement has meant that the dream team won’t get an attempt at capturing lightning in a bottle twice.
6. Picking Negasonic Teenage Warhead
Chances are you had never heard of Negasonic Teenage Warhead prior to Deadpool. That was part of the character’s charm. She has not been explored very thoroughly in the comics, so the team could play with her story and her abilities a bit more than they could with a better-known character. In the comics, she’s a telepath. In Deadpool, her explosive abilities are more true to her name. Speaking of her name, that’s the main reason she was chosen, so says director Tim Miller: “The original draft does not have Negasonic Teenage Warhead. It had a lot of gun play and sword play, and Tim [Miller] said he wanted to see more in the way of superpowers and traditional superpowers, so we chose Negasonic Teenage Warhead to fit in there. We chose her largely for her name, because it was so cool, but we ultimately ended up changing her powers from the comics.”
5. The Costume With No Muscle Shirt
Tim Miller, the film’s director tells of how every superhero costume has this muscle shirt/padding underneath to make the stars look ever more massive, but, when it came time to fit Ryan Reynolds into the suit, the padding made him look “like a house,” in Reynolds’ own words. As Miller tells it, “It would shame all of the men in this room if you saw him with his shirt off. Even the stunt guys. He’s huge. We had this moment when he first was changing into costume and I hear him go, ‘Tim, Tim come in here for a second.’ And I said, ‘Okay.’ And I go in there and he’s got his shirt off and he’s like, ‘Okay, this is as close as we’re going to get to being naked together on this entire process.’ But, I mean, he was just showing me how ripped he was. But then you put him in the costume and it looked TOO big, so we dropped all the muscle suit and that’s all 100 percent USDA Ryan Reynolds underneath. But it looks great because the costume kind of slims him back down, which is to what I think is the quintessential Deadpool. I mean he’s not a super strong guy…”
4. Bea Arthur Shirt
In the comics, Deadpool has a weird obsession with the late actress, Bea Arthur (Golden Girls). When it came time to do the movie, Ryan Reynolds wanted to find a funny way to include the actress. The idea was to make a T-shirt, but as you know, funds were tight. Reynolds, who personally knows the two sons of Arthur, Matthew and Daniel Saks, reached out to Daniel, who is a set designer. Reynolds gained permission to use Bea’s image on the shirt, but the agreement was to pay $10,000 to one of the actress’s favorite charities, the Ali Forney Center. Reynolds approved the cost and paid the donation. As Saks tells it, having Reynolds be the one asking really helped seal the deal: “I was on Dharma & Greg on Stage 21 at Fox when Ryan was on Stage 20 doing Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place. He was always a nice guy, and the fact that it was him gave it more weight with me and my brother, Matthew. We thought, ‘Why not?’”
3. Olivia Munn Becoming Psylocke
When X-Men: Apocalypse came out, fans were excited to see Olivia Munn play dress-up as Psylocke, kicking ass and looking great doing it, but this wasn’t the character that Munn was originally slated to play. Initially, Munn was offered the part of Vanessa in Deadpool, the star’s girlfriend. Munn says that she had one question for the filmmakers of Deadpool, “Is there a fight scene?” While Vanessa Carlysle (played by Morena Baccarin) is the superhero Copycat and will likely get to show off her abilities in Deadpool 2, she does not have any high-action scenes in Deadpool, unless you consider the extended sex scene with Reynolds action. When Munn compared Vanessa’s role to the offer she received to play Psylocke, it was an easy choice for the star: “I thought Psylocke was always one of the most lethal characters, and I said, ‘Yes, as long as you’re not using her to be the eye candy. She has really powerful abilities.’”
2. The New Colossus
You probably noticed that Colossus in Deadpool is different than the Colossus from the X-Men films. For one, the actor playing him is not Daniel Cudmore; there are a few guys playing him in Deadpool, including Andre Tricoteux as the main body/motion capture actor and Stefan Kapicic as the voice. Since Colossus is metal the entire time, CGI was used to create the look, with Kapicic dubbed in the voice. That brings us to another big change. Colossus is Russian which matches his comic book origins, unlike the old Colossus. This change was a necessary one for director Tim Miller, who said, “As a fanboy I’ve always been like, ‘That dude with the shiny skin is not f***ing Colossus.’ He should be this monstrous guy, and they actually let me make him seven-and-a-half feet tall. I did actually call Daniel Cudmore to ask him if he wanted to do this, even though he’d be entirely CG the whole time. He was very nice about it. He was like, ‘I appreciate your offering, but nah.'” To get the 6-ft tall Tricoteux to look 7.5-ft tall, he wore boots with 8-inch heels.
1. Eastern Promises Fight Scene
In the film, when Deadpool blows up the testing facility, Ajax (Ed Skrein) comes down to investigate. This begins a fight between the two, a fight that ends up getting pretty intimate. When Deadpool’s robe catches fire, he rips it off and fights in the nude. According to Ryan Reynolds, this entire scene was inspired by the naked man fight in the sauna in Eastern Promises. Reynolds describes the interest in doing the scene because it would make him incredibly uncomfortable, so they decided to include it. Speaking about filming the sequence, Reynolds said, “There’s nothing else you can do except to just sorta grin, bear it, and go, ‘All right guys, we’re all going to get to really know each other today. I may be sitting on this man’s face at some point, he may be sitting on mine… It was ugly but necessary.” While some reports suggested that Reynolds’ entire anatomy made the final cut, that wasn’t the case. Initially they removed any dangling parts, but that looked too alien, so they added in a CGI ding dong and found it was barely noticeable.