Comics on Film: What the Discord of 'Deadpool 2' Tells Us About the Sequel

Comics on Film: What the Discord of 'Deadpool 2' Tells Us About the Sequel

Oct 28, 2016

2016 is winding down to its final weeks as we descend on a fast-approaching Halloween, and while a great deal can be said about the year overall in terms of the loss of beloved personalities, politics, and entertainment, it seemed like it was a particularly interesting year for fans of comics-based and superhero movies. While we saw some very polarizing releases from Warner Bros. featuring the characters of DC Comics, we also got the monumentally successful Captain America: Civil War, we're on the verge of seeing Doctor Strange make his debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and we got...another X-Men movie.

Perhaps the most interesting comic book movie story of the year, though, lies in the surprise knockout success of the X-Men film series' weird cousin, Deadpool. Starring Ryan Reynolds and directed by Tim Miller, Deadpool was an unconventional comic book movie because it was based on a mainstream Marvel character, and was rated R. Normally those two factors don't go together in a major motion picture. As of this writing, it's also the 7th highest grossing movie of the year, and a sequel is assured as we move ahead to 2017.
 
If you follow movie news on a regular basis you likely know that Deadpool director Tim Miller will no longer be directing the sequel because of his divergent vision of the movie compared with...well, seemingly everyone else involved with it.
 
 
Breaking up is hard to do
 
In a comprehensive piece posted to Movies.com late last week, our own Peter Martin went over the alleged stories of the breakup between 20th Century Fox and Tim Miller first broken by outlets like Deadline and The Wrap. Basically, it sounds as though Miller wanted to take advantage of the greater attention that the character has garnered through the first film in order to make a more bombastic action-oriented spectacle comparable to other big comic book tentpoles. Miller also had a specific actor in mind for the character of Cable, aka Nathan Summers, and was adamant about making a bigger, more expensive, and far more kinetic action movie.
 
In addition to disagreeing with the larger, action-oriented direction, star Ryan Reynolds also reportedly disagreed with Miller's choice of actor Kyle Chandler (BloodlineThe Wolf of Wall Street) for the role of Cable. In fact, Reynolds disagreed so much with that choice that 20th Century Fox itself stepped in and concluded that Reynolds (as well as returning screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick) had the right idea not just about the casting of Cable, but with the overall direction that the follow-up film should take.
 
Reynolds, Fox, and the writers apparently feel that the best direction for Deadpool 2 to take would be in closer alignment with the original film – one whose budgetary shortcomings (when compared with other comics-based films) was "masked" by the heavy focus on humor. So, it basically looks like Miller's vision for the sequel was incompatible with virtually every other major player that's involved in the production, and as a result Tim Miller is no longer directing Deadpool 2.
 
 
Why Miller's exit may be bad
 
Whether or not you agree with Reynolds, Fox, Reese and Wernick, Tim Miller's importance to the overall success of the original Deadpool film cannot and should not be understated. With a unique flair in visual storytelling coming from his time as a computer animator, Miller made Deadpool's action scenes pop in-between Reynolds' wisecracking, making a $58 million budget look deceptively stylish when compared to other, smaller comics-based films with comparable budgets. His distinctive eye for the film's aesthetic presentation faithfully translated the abilities of Wade Wilson to the screen very effectively, and people should definitely give him an immense amount of credit for making the movie work as well as it did.
 
Deadpool had a very rocky road toward production, which lasted over a decade. Because the wait ended up paying off handsomely, it's not too surprising to learn that Miller feels the studio and financiers should invest in a bigger, broader, more kinetic action spectacle. If, as the reports suggest, his ideas would place the budget for the sequel closer to the $150 million range, that would still give it a respectable profit margin if Wade Wilson's second cinematic outing proves at least as successful as the first film has.
 
That's by no means a sure thing, but Fox's overall attitude with a second Deadpool film seems to reflect the complacency (or perhaps nervousness) that they feel toward the X-Men film franchise overall, with many of the sequels they've produced in that series proving more stagnant than its true stand-outs like X2 and Days of Future Past. Complacency is the last thing that 20th Century Fox should be feeling with Deadpool, since the success they had the first time is not "normal" by the standards of most comic book films. Complacency breeds laziness, and ditching Miller may reflect satisfaction without necessarily wanting to push the envelope like the original film did.
 
 
On the Other Hand...
 
...the positions of Reynolds, the writers, and the studio are also very understandable. There are plenty of examples in the superhero cinema genre of a sequel going for something entirely different than the original film, making them feel too divergent from the spirit of a successful original.
 
In this writer's estimation, a perfect example of this is 1992's Batman Returns, which was such an inherently different animal when compared with its predecessor that it can be difficult to remember that the narrative for Returns actually follows sequentially from the 1989 original, and that was even with the same director. Different production designers, screenwriters, and less limitation on the eccentricity of Tim Burton, though, arose out of a complacency that Warner Bros. experienced after Batman was so successful in the summer of 1989. That gave the studio the idea that they'd be able to replicate (or perhaps even surpass) the success of the '89 film if they didn't limit Burton, which ultimately ended up leading to a film where kids had to be escorted out of theaters crying, followed by vengeful parents angry about such a film getting Happy Meal tie-ins.
 
Of course there are those who see Batman Returns as a superior film to its predecessor, though in my experience most of those people are bigger fans of Burton's than they are of Batman.
 
When compared with other successful and well-regarded sequels in the genre like Superman IISpider-Man 2, and even X2: X-Men United, they take the solid foundations of the original film and build a lot off of them, making the next film a clearly recognizable second part in the story. Of course only one of those films in the case of Superman II had a different director, and even then, most of it was shot by the original director (an interesting story that we've talked about before).
 
 
The Merc Will Return
 
Either way, regardless of where you may stand on Tim Miller's departure, 20th Century Fox have clearly made the impending production of Deadpool 2 a priority. Because of what happened here, we can infer that it will have a similar scale to the original film, that it will retain the first film's focus on humor as a priority with action peppered into the proceedings, and that it will likely feature everyone's favorite mutant straight-man to Wade's antics, Cable. Rumors also say that X-Man Domino will be appearing with several prominent actresses currently testing for the part.
 
Of course, it'll be interesting to see who's chosen as the director for the upcoming film, and that's a choice that'll have to be made quickly since the production is slated to begin early next year. A release date has yet to be slotted, but in the meantime you can look over some of our Deadpool comics recommendations, and be sure to come back for a new edition of Comics on Film next week!

Chris Clow is a gamer, a comic book expert and former retailer, as well as a freelance contributor to The Huffington Post and Batman-On-Film.com, as well as host of the Comics on Consoles podcast. You can find his weekly piece Comics on Film right here at Movies.com. Check out his blog, and follow along on Twitter @ChrisClow.

Categories: Features, Geek, Editorials
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