Ryan Reynolds hopes to be the face of two competing superhero franchises with “Green Lantern” and “Deadpool” but, after reading the gleefully subversive script for the latter, he isn’t too concerned about moviegoers getting the characters confused.
“It goes in such a different direction than a superhero movie usually goes,” Reynolds said over lunch recently at 101 Coffee Shop. “It’s a nasty piece of work. It’s just based in so much emotional filth, completely. It’s like ‘Barfly‘ if it were a superhero movie. It sort of treads into the world of an emotionally damaged person. I always say that Deadpool is a guy in a highly militarized shame spiral…. It’s so different than the superhero movies to date, it departs so far from that.”
In “Green Lantern,” due next summer, Reynolds plays Hal Jordan, the cocky but courageous test pilot who becomes the first human member of the Green Lantern Corps, an interstellar peacekeeping group armed with power rings capable of almost anything. “Deadpool,” meanwhile, with a script by the “Zombieland” writing tandem Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, is far less ennobled and much more unsettling, judging by Reynolds’ description.
The Marvel character is a killer for hire with a wicked wit — he’s nicknamed “the merc with a mouth” — and healing ability that makes him almost impossible to kill. The antihero, manufactured by a sinister government program to be a murderous machine, is mentally unstable and morally slippery, which makes for an interesting challenge for the actor.
“With Deadpool, it’s a lot like going to prison for the first day,” Reynolds said. “You got to walk up and hit the biggest guy you see to establish a bit of cred. With Deadpool, early on you have to establish that moral flexibility. There’s a gamble to it — you’re going to lose a few people right at the beginning but you take the gamble and know that eventually you’re going to win them back. You won’t lose the hard-core fans of the character, they already know who he is. We have to play to a broader audience than that. As an actor you have to be willing to do something like … back in Vancouver we used to call it a [nasty] burger. ‘You gotta eat the [nasty] burger to get to the cookies.’ And yes, I want to write a cookbook about that…”
Last year, Reynolds portrayed Deadpool in the Twentieth Century Fox film “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” and Fox has circled 2012 for the release of the character’s first solo film. The project is still taking shape and Robert Rodriguez has been in talks to direct but the deal has yet to be inked and the filmmaker’s schedule is a dense thicket with a number of projects already in place. Rodriguez has praised the “Deadpool” screenplay but only time will tell if he will be the one to direct it.
The new film won’t be beholden to the events depicted in “Wolverine” in any way, Reynolds said, and, yes, fans can expect the character to break the fourth wall and address the audience at times like some sort of deranged Ferris Bueller armed with katana swords. That habit of talking straight to the audience was a hallmark of Deadpool in the comics, although after delving into the comics-rack history of the character Reynolds found that very few things have remained constant in the chronology of a character created by Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza but taken in many different directions by other creators.
“The comics are very inconsistent in the writing,” Reynolds said. “All the different writers, different voices, but at the core of the character his heart is really interesting. He’s the funniest guy you’ll ever meet, too, and for me that’s exciting but it’s not as hard as capturing that moral flexibility, which is so important. He hasn’t really experienced the full spectrum of human emotion the way most people do.”
— Geoff Boucher
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