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10 things we learned from Ryan Reynolds and Tim Miller on the set of Deadpool

Lights, camera, action!

Ever since the character's mistreatment in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, comic book fans everywhere have been thirsting for a more faithful movie adaptation of Deadpool, and after one of the longest waiting games in history, they're finally getting one.

Though Ryan Reynolds is still starring, it'll be an altogether different take on Wade Wilson than the one we last saw with his mouth sewn shut in 2009. This time out, it's an origin story for Marvel's much-loved antihero, and it'll generally be loaded with the fourth-wall breaking snarkiness and morally questionable behaviour that fans have come to expect from the 'Merc with a Mouth'. And if the rapturous reception of the Comic-Con trailer was anything to go by, those fans are going to need to wear their brown pants to the cinema when it lands in February 2016.

Earlier this year we spoke to Ryan Reynolds, director Tim Miller, writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick and more on the junkyard set in Vancouver, home to the films final showdown. Here's what we gleaned...

1. Lessons were learned on Wolverine

Fans werent best pleased with Deadpools treatment in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and Reynolds and the team know it. This standalone film starts anew.

The challenge when we first got to it was Deadpool was introduced in Wolverine and introduced, I think, poorly - admittedly by everyone involved, says co-writer Paul Wernick. He was mischaracterised and misrepresented: the Merc with a Mouth, they sewed his mouth shut! So, I think the way we looked at it was starting fresh, imagining Deadpool hadnt existed in Wolverine and creating an actual origin story.

When we catch up with Reynolds later (dressed in full Deadpool gear, save for the mask hes removed for our chat), he also reflects on the characters portrayal in that X-Men spinoff. People responded to Wade Wilson, I think, in Wolverine, he says. They liked Wade Wilson. And they always love Hugh Jackman. Whats not to love? But I think what they didnt like was They misjudged how many fans of this character there are. When they treated him that way and changed him that way, I think it hurt a lot of people. It hurt the studio, it hurt the character. It actually, in the long run, was the best thing that ever happened because it really teed us up to do it the right way, with no exceptions.

2. But Deadpool is very much connected to the X-Men universe

Despite severing ties with Wolverine, Deadpool will still very much exist within Foxs expanded X-Men universe, as overseen by producer Simon Kinberg. For starters, X-regular Colossus will be playing a significant role, in his most comic-faithful portrayal yet. While the general consensus is that Deadpool wont rush into a crossover immediately (wed likely see a Deadpool 2 before then), the mutants are definitely on the horizon.

In this movie hes very much within the X-Men universe, explains co-writer Rhett Reese. He interacts with Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead. In the script we find out [Professor X] has been trying to recruit Deadpool for a while to join the X-Men. There was a debate about whether we were allowed to use Colossus early on, adds Wernick. Because Simon the keeper of the X-universe knows Colossus isnt going to be in Apocalypse, [we were told], Yes, you can use him in Deadpool.

3. Ryan Reynolds has contributed more than you know

The film struggled to get a greenlight for years, and it took its toll on the key players. It was emotional, remembers Reynolds. It was like a bad relationship I was in that wouldnt stop torturing me.

Producing as well as starring, Reynolds has lived and breathed the character for years, and consulted Reese and Wernick on the screenplay. We were very collaborative with Ryan, says Reese. He knows a lot about Deadpool. He sat with us while we were figuring out the story. When we wrote it, wed send Ryan pages and hed give us his thoughts.

While Reynolds himself plays down the input into the script (I think theyre being generous when they say that), he does talk about the core creative team himself, Reese, Wernick and director Tim Miller that have been batting for the project through years of script revisions and wavering fortunes, until that leaked footage turned the tide.

4. Yes, reader, Deadpool will break the fourth wall

One of the defining characteristics of Deadpool from the comics is his twisted sense of humour, and his ability to break the fourth wall frequently escaping the confines of the panels to comment on his own stories.

As the trailer has since shown, Deadpool will break the fourth wall with meta gags (Don't make the suit green. Or animated!) and direct-to-camera comments. I like that hes addressing the audience directly, says Reynolds. I like that hes aware that hes in a comic book or a comic book movie. I like that he occupies this very unique and special space within that universe that nobody else seems to occupy. I think theres even a moment where Deadpool talks about Ryan Reynolds in the movie

5. But it won't get *too* meta

If youre worried that the in-jokes might go too far, the team have been policing themselves. Sometimes we have to stop ourselves though, admits Reynolds on the topic of going five levels deep on the meta. Sometimes were like, OK, weve now meta-d ourselves back into my fathers balls. Lets stop for a moment and recover. And if that filthy sense-of-humour sounds familiar

6. Ryan Reynolds is disturbingly like Deadpool, apparently

You might be surprised to discover that the clean-cut star is closer to his on-screen counterpart than you originally thought. I would have to say, knowing Ryan for a few years now, that that personality, those jokes, are closer to him than the clean version, says director Miller. Thats what hes like in private. Hes pretty nasty.

Reynolds doesnt disagree: Id say Im closer to this than Ive been with any other character. It fits in a more natural way than anything else. I dont know how proud I am of that, but yeah, its kind of a match made in heaven.

7. Ed Skrein's villain is inspired by Blade Runner's Roy Batty

The big bad of the piece is Ajax (played by Ed Skrein), with whom Deadpool has a personal score to settle. Brit actor Skrein looked to a sci-fi classic for villainous inspiration, naming Blade Runners Roy Batty (aka Rutger Hauer) as a key touchstone, as well as notorious serial killer Harold Shipman.

He also has a specific reference for when Ajax who can feel no pain goes toe-to-toe with Deadpool. A big reference for us with the fighting style has been Muhammad Ali versus Joe Frazier. So you have Muhammad Ali as the Deadpool character, hes dancing and hes talking trash, trying to get you to lose your form, and Frazier is just straight through a juggernaut.

8. Gina Carano will scrap with Colossus

Former MMA champ and Haywire star Gina Carano plays Angel Dust, Ajaxs right-hand woman (and muscle). Powered by adrenaline and super strength, shes a lesser-known character from the comics. Im able to go against a character like Colossus because I have an adrenaline problem I really cant control, and this strength to follow it, explains Carano. So if you can imagine me going against this massive tin can of a character, the only way that happens is by me having adrenaline issues and massive strength!

And, when talk turns to female superhero roles in contemporary movies, Caranos as surprised as the rest of us that we havent seen a standalone Black Widow movie yet. Im surprised Scarlett Johansson hasnt got her Black Widow made, she says. Thats very surprising to me, and I think that everyone is really putting notice on women in the industry right now.

9. Tim Miller got involved by chance

While this is Tim Millers first feature as a director, hes hardly a novice. A co-founder of visual effects/animation outfit Blur Studios, hes worked on sequences for David Finchers The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and Thor: The Dark World. A self-confessed comic book geek, Miller landed the directing gig on Deadpool via a chance encounter.

I met with one of the Fox executives about helping out on another film with some action scenes, another X-Men thing because Im a nerd. I know comic books." Miller explained. They said, Oh, we have this other movie. I happened to have read the script, because it was leaked and it was the best script Id ever read. So they said, Youre a first-time director so you cant do a big movie like Fantastic Four, but weve got this other smaller film, Deadpool. Would you be interested?' Im like, Fuck yeah! Actually, its more interesting to me than those sort of really staid superhero movies.

10. Deadpool belongs to the fans

Ultimately, the Deadpool creative team are convinced that the film is owned by the fans, particularly those that vocally expressed their appreciation for the leaked footage. We had a great reaction to the script leak which helped us actually, says Rhett Reese. But then the test footage leaked and that was a huge moment.

This movies only here because of the fans, concurs Reynolds. The fans got this movie greenlit, hands down. We did everything we possibly could. It was the voice of that generation. It was the voice of Twitter and Instagram and Facebook, and all of them; basically bent the arm of Fox. Next thing you know we were given a release date

Deadpool opens on 4 February 2016 in the UK and 12 February in the US.

Matt Maytum
Matt Maytum

I'm the Deputy Editor at Total Film magazine, looking after the long-form features there, and generally obsessing over all things Nolan, Kubrick and Pixar. Over the past decade I've worked in various roles for TF online and in print, including at GamesRadar+, and you can often hear me nattering on the Inside Total Film podcast. Bucket-list-ticking career highlights have included reporting from the set of Tenet and Avengers: Infinity War, as well as covering Comic-Con, TIFF and the Sundance Film Festival.