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Ex. Reese & Wernick talk villains, budget & Reynolds' writing on Deadpool 2

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DEADPOOL 2 has officially hit theaters, and there is an X-mansion’s worth of pop culture references, easter eggs and insane twists we need to break down right now. To get the scoop, we sent a cable (heh) straight to screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, who talked us through everything from star Ryan Reynolds’ contributions to the script, that A-list cameo and no less than 4 (!) shocking deaths.

You’re warned of FULL SPOILERS BELOW for every ounce of DEADPOOL 2 from here on out, but our chat with the original DEADPOOL and ZOMBIELAND screenwriters also sheds light on the controversial choice to kill off Morena Baccarin’s Vanessa (not to mention half of X-FORCE), and even some major revisions to the third act that would have seen Juggernaut teaming up with Jack Kesy’s Black Tom to tear down the orphanage.

Check out the full conversation below:

What was the biggest challenge to top Deadpool 1 when you put the new script together?

Rhett Reese: I think it was a little bit of not wanting to step into the bear trap that was waiting for us, and that being the temptation to try to set up X-Force, and to create too muscular and too grand a movie, where Deadpool really needs to be about human stakes and about personal relationships. So the balance was always not to let it get too big for its own good, and bloated. We did have to introduce new characters, but we tried to keep it about Deadpool. That was the most important thing for us.

Paul Wernick: Another huge challenge was just the pressure. We came off the first movie – it was beloved and made a lot of money – and we flew under the radar on the first one. And in this one we flew very, very on the radar. Everyone was paying very close attention to the process and the script development, and the great thing – to Fox’s credit – they still let us do what we do. But feeling that pressure of a sequel – a comedy sequel – how often do comedy sequels work? Very, very rarely.

Rhett Reese: It felt like the knives were sharpened, and we were nervous about that. But we do try to just make each other laugh, and figure that if Ryan, and Paul and I and Dave thought it was funny, that it was probably funny. And we just had to trust that.

What can you tell me about Ryan’s specific contributions to the script and character voice?

Rhett Reese: I mean, he’s the best. He’s responsible for so much of the script, and so much of the humor and heart. He is Deadpool at the end of the day – no one knows the voice the way Ryan does – and he’s a brilliant human being, both as an actor and a writer. We’re lucky we crossed paths with that man. He’s done a lot for us and hopefully we’ve done good things for him, and the result is this crazy movie.

Paul Wernick: It was really, truly a partnership between the three of us; developing, breaking, writing. Usually the writing process with Rhett and I is that we write story together, and then we go off and write scenes and trade back and forth. We just had an additional party, and that party happened to be the genius of Ryan Reynolds, so it became now we were writing and trading scenes back between the three of us, and also writing in the same room occasionally.

You mentioned human stakes. Because Deadpool is so malleable, he can stay by himself or throw in with any other Marvel character. How did you land on “family” as the movie’s major theme?

Rhett Reese: One of the things we knew we were setting up was X-Force, and so we thought “Ultimately, where is Deadpool going to be at the end of this movie? Well he’s going to find a family. In that case, let’s back up and try to create a situation where he really needs a family.” We decided to break him down to his lowest place; to lose Vanessa at a time when he was about to form a family. And then finally run into this kid, who sort of becomes that surrogate family for him, which then leads him into a situation where he now has a more complete family. So we kind of backed into it, knowing where we needed to end up. Then the light bulb went off – if the first movie was a movie about finding love and romance, this is a movie about finding a family. And then that theme really started to infuse the entire script.

Paul Wernick: The stakes are so personal on a Deadpool movie – it’s not that he’s saving the world or lifting cities up, or there’s aliens coming to invade. It’s very personal, and I think that’s what the audience relates to. Everyone goes through struggles, everyone has families, everyone’s trying to find love and fit in in the world. That’s ultimately Deadpool’s struggle, and I think keeping those stakes as personal as we can makes for a successful Deadpool movie.

Was there any apprehension of how people might react to killing off Vanessa?

Rhett Reese: We did – in early drafts they broke up. She didn’t die, they broke up. But then we just felt like it wasn’t’ strong enough, like we hadn’t taken enough away from him. We did worry that people would be upset – we had in our back pocket the possibility of the time machine that could bring her back to life – but we also knew that the spine of the movie was going to be Deadpool going into the afterlife and seeing Vanessa, and this riddle of getting his heart in the right place in order to break through and see her. We wanted to kill him at the end of the movie, so we figured this was kind of the perfect way to still have her in the movie and not lose her presence – and then still have our cake and eat it too, so we can maybe have her in future movies. We fudged and cheated a little bit as a means to keep everybody happy, but we’re glad we did. Morena’s the best and their chemistry is just undeniable, so in the very back of our minds, we thought “Do we really want to step away from that forever?” And the answer was no.

Along those same lines, you have the challenge of introducing these X-Force characters. What was the thought process behind which you needed to introduce, and which met immediate ends?

Paul Wernick: Well, Cable and Domino were no-brainers for us; they’re the real heart of X-Force with Deadpool. The other ones … Firefist – we chose Firefist based on his name. We thought “how [much] fun Deadpool would have with a kid whose name was ‘Firefist.’” Much like we did with Negasonic in the first one. We didn’t know what Firefist’s powers were, just like “Oh my god, the kid’s name is Firefist, he’s gonna be in a movie. We’ll figure out how he fits into that universe later.”

Rhett Reese: We did chase the gags a little bit. Vanisher we put in because we thought “Oh my god, how funny not to see the guy the whole time and never know really if he’s there.”

Paul Wernick: Brad Pitt was a late addition to that process.

Rhett Reese: We had a full shoot – not day – but a whole crew set up just for Brad to walk on and do that one moment, and then he left. It was amazing.

Paul Wernick: My guess is we didn’t even need that. You could have probably put a picture of him [there]. He’s not really “acting” in that scene.

Rhett Reese: It’s a short burst, for sure. Zeitgeist, for instance, we knew he spit acidic vomit, so we’re like “That’s funny, we can use that in the death scene and have him vomit on somebody.” It really came from “where’s the comedy,” knowing that we’re gonna kill these guys quickly. Shatterstar – the arrogance of an alien who’s actually better than Deadpool at anything, and yet still gets killed by the high winds. Just stuff like that.

And Peter? Where did he come from?

Rhett Reese: Peter was I think Ryan’s idea, like “What if a regular guy’s on the team?” And then immediately we’re going, “What’s he going to be like? He’s gotta just be super-average and wear Dockers, and had come in because … “

Paul Wernick: He’s Rhett Reese.

Rhett Reese: He’s sort of me. I’m obsessed with putting on SPF before I’m out in the sun, I’m afraid of the sun, and the rain, and the wind, and anything that’s Mother Nature-related. So we just kind of plugged all that in and made him an average guy. Rob Delaney brought that mustache and “Bam!” It was perfect.

Paul Wernick: He showed up on set that first day, and like, “This is the guy. This is the guy you want on your team.”

What was the most important thing to get right about Cable and Domino’s first appearance in live-action?

Paul Wernick: Everything. These are characters that the audience loves, and we wanted to get their personality right, their tone right, and their skillset. Cable’s got such a crazy backstory – we wanted to address it in the sense that this is a time-traveling badass. That’s all the audience really needs to understand about Cable, because if you go on his Wikipedia page and read through the comics, it’s pretty damn complex. We just kind of wanted to jump right in there.

Rhett Reese: And then with Domino, it was just about finding the personality that would coincide with this superpower of luck. We just thought you’d start to have a happy-go-lucky attitude knowing that everything was going to work out for you. You could be sharp-tongued, but she kind of shrugs her shoulders pretty mellow, like “I don’t know, things are going to work out! I don’t need to really worry too hard about this whole situation,” and it played into Zazie’s personality and worked pretty nice.

Paul Wernick: You bring in these opposing forces into Deadpool’s world … personality-wise, you bring any personality into Deadpool’s world – whether they’re stern, or chaste or overconfident – it creates sparks in a way that only a Deadpool movie could, because of his personality and how absolutely fucking crazy he is.

What is it about those characters you’d want to explore in a third movie, or X-Force?

Rhett Reese: Cable is always a man on a mission. He’s not a very patient guy, he’s very single-minded and focused. Deadpool’s completely the opposite; he’s a zig-zagger, goes off on tangents, you can’t keep his attention for more than ten seconds. So that’s a great foil situation. I think we’ve thought a little bit less about how Domino and Deadpool might work moving forward, but I think it’s always about making sure the characters have conflict in certain ways – even if it’s genial fun like “he annoys me” kind of conflict as opposed to actual antagonism. Deadpool definitely is a shit-disturber and as such, we have to surround him with people who are not too thrilled when shit starts to get disturbed by him.

I love the meta-gag in the first movie about Deadpool losing the bag of guns, ostensibly because the shootout was too expensive to film. What did the movie’s success free up for the sequel’s budget, and what was still out of reach?

Rhett Reese: Budgetarily, we still had a number we had to hit. We rapidly gobbled up that number, so there were still decisions we had to make to save budget – one of which was Black Tom. Black Tom originally was the villain of the piece, and he lasted into Act 3, and he had this amazing superpower where he could control any organic wood, basically. So he was tearing apart the orphanage and throwing trees around and doing all this crazy stuff in the third act. Juggernaut was there too and it was just this massive thing, and so we did get forced to think economically. Unfortunately for Jack Kesy, it meant trimming the Black Tom character down and having him die in the convoy.

Paul Wernick: That was also less about budget as well, and more about just bloating the movie.

Rhett Reese: Yeah. Sometimes these movies just have too many villains, too many characters. So the combination of those two things led us to reduce Black Tom’s role. When Deadpool fights with a brick, that was also a means of keeping that fight a little bit shorter and simpler. The bottom line was, “you always spend what they give you.” So we found that the money still got gobbled up, and we were still having to be budget-conscious.

Paul Wernick: And it really was a movie on a budget, too. This wasn’t a traditional massive-budget summer movie blockbuster.

Rhett Reese: Certainly not by the standards of the MCU.

Paul Wernick: What was your line, “mother is the necessity of invention, so too is money”?

Rhett Reese: “If necessity is the mother of invention, ‘a lot of money’ is the father of invention,” in the sense that it allowed us to do some really cool things, this expanded budget. That convoy sequence was way bigger than anything that was done in the first Deadpool. We added a full CG character in Juggernaut – that’s very expensive, to do full CG characters. So we were allowed to do many things that we weren’t on the first, by virtue of having more money.

Paul Wernick: Deadpool 1 had two action scenes – the first action scene, which stretched across the first two acts, and then the big third act in the junkyard.

Rhett Reese: And in this case, we had all this time and energy to do all those montages of fights you see in the beginning of the movie in Hong Kong, and Sicily, and Biloxi and all these different places. It just allowed us to flex our muscles a little bit more.

Paul Wernick: And when you have the brilliance of a guy like Dave Leitch at the helm, who’s just a maestro at action; we definitely wanted to take that car out for a spin.

Between Juggernaut and Colossus, you also get to redeem characters that X-Men movies have not been able to portray well in the past. Are their others you have your eye on for the future?

Rhett Reese: It’s a good question … there are so many that have been used now. Juggernaut was the one we were like, “Oh thankfully there’s still a character out there they did terrible justice to in the past.” He really needed to be a CG character the way The Hulk needed to be a CG character, and The Abomination needed to be a CG character. Once CG caught up and was able to do those characters, we just felt like Juggernaut was a hole in the resume. But we’re running out, is the problem. There are a lot of great minor characters, but – of the major ones now – most of them have been used.

Paul Wernick: Yeah, but we can fix some of them that have been used badly.

Rhett Reese: Surely, though no one actually jumps to mind. I’m sure we can find something that has not been done justice.

DEADPOOL 2 is now playing.

Source: JoBlo.com

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