Set Visit: Deadpool - Cartoons, on-set antics, & Wade Wilsonisms

One of the most popular comic book characters in the last few decades, DEADPOOL has become more than just another X-Men universe character, but more of a cultural icon, featured in everything, including t-shirts, hoodies, hats, action figures, videogames, an animated film, and an unfortunate X-film (more on that later).  Created by Rob Liefeld (see my interview with him from Comic Con HERE)  in the pages of New Mutants back in 1992, DEADPOOL has grown into an antihero that is as well know for his hilarity (re: insanity) as much as his badassery, so much so that his fourth-wall breaking personality presented a bit of a conundrum when the possibility of adapting him to the big screen came into play.

Oh, good one, Paul. Give ‘em the ol’ DEADPOOL history lesson why don’tcha? Good job mentioning Liefeld, too. Now, he’ll definitely Tweet this.

X-MEN: ORIGINS – WOLVERINE gave us our first cinematic iteration of DEADPOOL and it was quite clear that, casting aside, there was a general confusion over just who DEADPOOL was and how he should be portrayed. A watered down (aka silenced) Wade Wilson in X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE was not exactly the version we hoped to see on the big screen (although this showed promise) and certainly not one with katana blades coming out of his arms.

Y’know, I’ve reversed my opinion on those. They would actually come in handy. Get it? Okay, please continue with your piece of Pulitzer Prize winning journalism, Mr. Shirey.

Thank you, Wade.

Being a comic book nerd and growing up during the explosion of the ‘90’s comic book superstars like Jim Lee, Todd McFarlane, Erik Larsen, and, of course, Rob Liefeld, I can distinctly remember reading the introduction of Deadpool and his subsequent appearances in New Mutants and X-Force, before conquering all of Marvel and showing up in just about every title on a regular basis. He was essentially a mouthy badass assassin in a red ninja suit which, naturally, made for a hell of a cool character to a 14 year old.

Let’s be honest, you were more enamored with your Playboy stash. But, hey, I’m still flattered.

Deadpool didn’t just gain in popularity; he exploded, becoming not only a beloved character in the Marvel Universe, but a cultural icon to boot. In terms of merchandising, Deadpool seems second only to Star Wars, albeit his appeal is more to more mature audiences (not that it keeps younger audiences from loving him just the same). And so, as he reached the peak of his fame, the natural inclination was to include him in a Marvel film, although we’ve already covered how that went. But, the passion for the character, particularly from his acting counterpart, Ryan Reynolds, as well as screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick and director Tim Miller led to a continued drive to see the character brought to life in a way that truly represents his absurdity and coolness.  

Creating a proof of concept animated short, the team seemed to have something awesome on their hands. Except no one saw it. Until they did. The famous online “leak” of the footage sent fans wild and created a rallying cry of support for the hard-R version that cried out to be made. And, before you could say “chimichangas” the movie was greenlit…and with an R-rating to boot (which we helped announce during April Fools Day this year – see below).

It seemed too good to be true. However, getting the call to come visit the set in Vancouver was confirmation enough that this was, in fact, happening. It made my inner 14 year old downright giddy.

Jeez, just get to the goods will ya? No one cares about your nostalgic ramblings. They just want to know if you saw me doing anything awesome on set that will make them believe a Deadpool can fly.

I’m getting there, Wade. I have to build the story. I’m not gonna bullet point this whole thing...

Set visits are always a mixed bag. Depending on how many you’ve been to and what the visit is for, you can easily get a little disillusioned. It’s important to remind yourself that you’re a professional and that many would kill to be in your shoes. In this instance, I felt nothing but excitement to be there. So, I flew in to Vancouver and prepared to see the Merc with the Mouth in action, hoping that, at the very least, I’d leave feeling like this version of Deadpool would be exactly what we’re hoping for.

After a night of hanging with my peers, I settled in for some sleep, preparing for a full day on set.

Are you going to mention the hookers you ordered? Is that something journalists report on?

There were no hookers, Wade.

Sure, sure.  But, if there were you’d let the readers know, right?

A short bus ride the next morning led us to the set, which was in an industrial area just outside of Vancouver. Right off the highway, you could view the set entirely on approach, although the entire filming area was covered with big, black rectangular covers that blocked off any sneak peeks at the action on the ground. It was muddy and wet with most of the action taking place in a makeshift scrap yard, complete with all manner of mechanic junk, including aircraft and car parts with cargo shipping containers interspersed throughout. It looked like the perfect place for DEADPOOL to tear shit up with very little worry about collateral damage.

It was mostly sunny when we arrived, although Vancouver would remind us of it’s unpredictability in weather patterns with a vengeance throughout the day, going from sun to rain to overcast to hail (yes, hail), and back again. We were ushered into a tent that had chairs, a table, and a bunch of concept art adorning the walls. Now we were getting somewhere. Concept art is something you see a lot of on set visits, obviously, as they’re still shooting the film itself. However, it was more than the general public has seen at that point, so it was a welcome treat.

Go on, big guy. Tell them all about the art. Describe that art. Only thing more fun than looking at art is having someone tell you what it looks like, am I right?

Shut up, Wade.

So, uh…let me describe the concept art:

  • Colossus getting punched by Angel Dust
  • A Destroyed “hellicarrier” in a massive scrapyard (which is the same set we were on)
  • Deadpool strapped to the wing of a jet as an explosion from behind sends him into the sky
  • Angel Dust and Negasonic Teenage Warhead fighting
  • Deadpool lounging in his “lair” (in costume), looking very much like a college dorm room – with guns. And Deadpool comics, scattered all around.
  • Wade in a hospital gown fighting with a bad guy in a burning room
  • Mock-ups of the “Punch Bowl” which is where Wade is tortured into becoming Deadpool. It’s basically a clear capsule where the tortured individual is strapped into and is filled with fluid or whatever else is needed to create the necessary torture.
  • On the “hellicarrier” deck, a group of dead and bloodied bad guys are sprawled out, spelling the name “Francis” (Ajax’s real name) with Deadpool standing next to them, pleased with his creation.
  • Deadpool attempting to rescue Morena Baccarin’s Vanessa, hanging off a ledge on the “hellicarrier.”

Ahem. Uh, bullet points?

Well, they seemed appropriate here…

My immediate reaction to the concept art was that it 1) It looked awesome and 2) It had the makings of a batshit crazy action film. The stunts, action, and set-ups that were on display looked exactly like the kind of movie I’d want to see and exactly the kind of movie Deadpool SHOULD be. It reminded me of a Shane Black scripted action movie with clever, over-the-top action sequences mixed with comic book style designs. My faith in the film grew just from seeing that art.

There’s a lot of art that makes me grow, too. Although, not everyone considers it art.

Right. So, we hit a series of interviews (which you can read HERE) with the cast and crew, who were all enthusiastic and humble. Everyone was pleased to be working on the film and there was a general air of excitement and appreciation for even being able to make the film the way they wanted to make it. Getting an R-rating for a comic book film is no easy task, but some budget cuts go a long way in making that happen, not to mention the volume of fan’s voices. In this instance, it seemed like it really did help. Still, there are those less versed in Deadpool’s history that don’t see the need for an R-Rating or even get what the character is all about or why he’s as popular as he is. For them, an R-rating means a movie they can’t take their kids to, which is kind of an insult to the comics medium as a whole. Comics aren’t a “kids only” affair and it became clear that instead of making a film for a demographic, DEADPOOL was a film being made for an audience. That’s a rare cookie indeed.

Way to sell that shit, Paul. Did you make a special cartoon to illustrate your point?

I did.

Take it away, broski…

In between interviews we walked over to the monitors to watch filmmaking magic happen with the ol’ Merc With A Mouth, which centered around a showdown with Deadpool, Colossus, and Negasonic facing down Gina Carano’s Angel Dust and her army of disposable SWAT-team-esque baddies. At one point Angel Dust punches Colossus while Deadpool ducks to miss it, spattering off some smart-alecky comments right after. Seeing the action go down that way was proof enough that Wade was going to be every bit as much the smartass as the badass and that is why I love America.

Kill your darlings, Shirey. Slay ‘em.

Later, we witnessed a scene of Carano’s Angel Dust getting knocked backwards into one of the shipping containers, leaving a massive dent. It was clear that Angel Dust would have some formidable super strength here, which would make for some more memorable showdowns between her and Deadpool’s crew of misfits.

The last scene we observed was Deadpool taking out one of the SWAT-team-esque baddies in a well-choreographed fight takedown with some kicks, blocks, and sword pull that ended with Wade recognizing this particular bad guys as “Bob”, who, in the comics, is a Hydra Agent that ends up becoming one of Deadpool’s unlikely allies. After a short tussle, they repeat the scene again and again, first with a stunt double and then with Reynolds, who did all the same stuntwork. There was a framework of dialogue, but they kicked it off each time with (paraphrasing):

Deadpool: Bob?

Bob: Wade?

Deadpool: I haven’t seen you since…

Bob & Deadpool (together): …T.G.I. Friday’s!

This is a reminder that T.G.I. Fridays has endless apps now, so if you’re broke and hungry and want to pretend you’re better than McDonalds…

Thanks, Wade. Hope you get a kickback. That'd be a hell of a promotional tie-in.

Wouldn't it, though?

Seeing Reynolds in costume as Deadpool, running the lines you expect from the character, and simply living and breathing the role he was born to play was just too damn cool to witness. With his stalled, silly start as Deadpool in X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE and then the unfortunate comic book flops that were GREEN LANTERN and R.I.P.D. it felt like Reynolds had found his true swagger in a franchise role. Or, rather, was finally allowed to go nuts with the character he already knew so well.

You hear the phrase “get it right” all too often and the term gets tossed around a little too loosely sometimes, but in the case of this big-screen iteration of DEADPOOL it feels like all the pieces are firmly in place for one of the most faithful adaptations of a superhero property to date. But, it’s not without its risks; even if it blows the roof off the theater there’s still that little hurdle of making enough money to justify it, let alone fund more like it. An R-rated comic book movie could go either way; straight to the top like this year’s KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE or into the pit like DREDD. The difference is that DEADPOOL hangs out with the PG-13 X-MEN crowd and is, for all intents and purposes, a “superhero” property. Hopefully, the fans who fought so strongly to have the film made will turn up in droves (and for repeat viewings) as the success or failure of DEADPOOL could be a game changer in how studios approach “harder” material going forward.

Man, you had to ruin it by getting all Debbie Downer, didn’t you? Things were going so good and you had to bring up the obvious, eh? Just so you know, I’m going out swinging. If this fucker flops, you bet your ass I’m swingin’ for the fences. I’m taking all of Hollywood down with me! Here, look at this pic of me looking awesome...

I left the DEADPOOL set feeling like the movie was truly going to be something special, regardless of how it actually performed at the box office. From the concept art, interviews, on-set filming, and general atmosphere and attitude toward the flick, I had cause to be excited come February of 2016 (which was further compounded by the badass trailer we saw at Comic Con). It’s almost like the filmmakers simply got away with something they weren’t supposed to get away with and that alone has me all sorts of jazzed to see this film take off. Whether you’re a hardcore or casual fan or even if you don’t know jack shit about DEADPOOL, I think 2016 will be a great year both for the character and audiences alike, especially for those looking for something above and beyond what we’ve come to expect from superhero films.

Oh, nice finish, big boy. I’m sure Fox has got that check in the mail now. But, seriously, all in all, pretty good job. Hopefully, your readers make it this far. I mean, they have so many choices to get this info, including places with lots of bulleted lists and shit, so your clever ruse to use my voice and break the fourth wall may not have worked as much as you thought it would. Still it was worth a shot. As long as everyone knows my movie is going to fucking rock, that’s all that really matters. Because it is. Going to rock...

Anyway…All you can eat Apps at T.G.I. Friday’s, people!





DEADPOOL swaggers into theaters on February 12th, 2016.

Extra Tidbit: I did not take any drugs while writing this Set Visit report. I will submit for testing if needed.
Source: JoBlo.com

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