Will Ryan Reynolds return with Tim Miller set to direct ‘Deadpool’?

Let’s talk about “Deadpool.”

The question was broached a few times to Ryan Reynolds at the recent “Green Lantern” panel at WonderCon in San Francisco, in a few different ways, all boiling down to one main concern:  will you still be playing the role of Deadpool?

If so, it’s strange territory for Reynolds.  One Marvel hero, one DC hero, two different studios.  True, it’s weirder for Chris Evans, who plays two characters in the Marvel Universe, but it’s still a lot to ask for the mainstream audience to accept you as not one but two distinct superheroes in two very different franchises.  I guess these days, the genre is so ubiquitous that it’s no different than Burt Reynolds playing two different rednecks with fast cars. 

The difference between Green Lantern and Deadpool as characters, though, is night and day.  Green Lantern is a big broad adventure hero, and the “Star Wars” styled world of that film is designed to appeal to kids and across the board.  Based on early drafts of the script by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick and comments made by Reynolds last weekend (when he said “it would have to be a hard-R”), it’s safe to say that Deadpool is being played much closer to the character that has a dedicated cult audience in print.  Deadpool is a motor-mouthed mercenary, a killer who regularly breaks the fourth wall to make wisecracks to the audience, and the script that they’re working with is kinetic and crazy and ridiculous in some really interesting ways.

For a while, it looked like Ruben Fleischer might direct the film, and Robert Rodriguez was also attached to it, but according to Michael Fleming today, Tim Miller has signed to direct the film, with Reese and Wernick still attached as writers and Lauren Shuler Donner producing.

Wait a minute… Tim who?

Tim Miller is a well-respected name in the FX community, and Blur Studio has done some impressive work for films and in the world of video games.  I know people who have worked with Miller, and he’s evidently a strong collaborator with a genuine filmmaker’s sensibility.  One of the projects I wish would get a greenlight somewhere is the “Heavy Metal” anthology that was set to feature segments by Jim Cameron, Zack Snyder, David Fincher, David Prior, and, yes, Tim Miller.  I would love to see what that movie would be like, and the descriptions I’ve heard make it sound like it would have been a hell of a way to introduce guys like Miller and Prior as filmmakers surrounded by names that could have sold some tickets.  Instead, it looks like Miller’s going to step up to a high-profile gig his first time out.

Already I’ve seen some people making comparisons to “Spawn,” which was directed by FX wizard Mark Dippe, or the Strause Brothers directing “Alien Vs Predator: Requiem,” and automatically making the jump to saying that Miller’s not a good choice.  I think regardless of background, every director is different, and one reason Miller could be an inspired choice is because the script is an enormous technical challenge, and whoever shoots the film is going to have to find a way to bring some pretty outrageous visual ideas to life.  Miller could bring his considerable expertise in bringing the impossible to life to bear in figuring out a way to shoot the action.

So if this is released as “X-Men Origins: Deadpool,” what does that mean for “X-Men Origins: The Wolverine”?  Well, everything I’ve heard in the last few weeks, since Aronofsky left the film, would suggest that it’s not going to be happening this year.  That means the studio’s going to want to move up something else, and with Miller getting hired, it sounds like “Deadpool” has become their priority.  Now the question is whether or not Reynolds is going to be ready to shoot it this summer.  He was set to star in “R.I.P.D.” as well, but with today’s news that Zack Galifianakis is leaving that film, maybe it’s because he knows something we don’t.  Maybe he knows that’s not happening.  Maybe that’s because Reynolds is going to suit up as Wade Wilson first, in-between Green Lantern films.

In the meantime, Matthew Vaughn’s racing to the finish line on this summer’s “X-Men Origins: First Class,” so we’ll be getting some mutants onscreen this summer.  All that remains to be seen is which ones we’ll be seeing next year, and right now, The Merc with the Mouth seems like the strongest candidate.