Back in 2013, when I first interviewed Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, they were fresh off the success of Zombieland and were promoting G.I. Joe: Retaliation. What makes this memorable was, even back then, they were telling anyone who would listen about their script for a then C-list (maybe B-List, but his X-Men Origins: Wolverine appearance sure didn’t help) superhero named Deadpool. Even having it described over the phone – a script touting jokes about Deadpool’s pretty terrible appearance in the aforementioned X-Men Origins: Wolverine – it sounded really different. But these descriptions were always followed with disclaimers like, “Well, it’s never going to happen.”
Now, here we are five years later and the pair is promoting their second Deadpool film – a now enormous franchise (the first film made just over three fourths of a billion dollars) that probably won’t be stopping anytime soon.
I met with Reese and Wernick at a hotel in Midtown Manhattan and, honestly, they seem like the two happiest people on Earth. Deadpool 2 is already getting great reviews and the “dark days,” as they call them, of not being able to get a Deadpool movie made are long over. Ahead, we avoid spoilers (we will have more with the pair, and director David Leitch, later in the week that gets into spoiler material) but for now they give us a taste of a couple of scenes that didn’t make it into Deadpool 2 that would have included a cameo by Chris Evans and Deadpool killing baby Hitler.
The first time I interviewed you two was for G.I. Joe: Retaliation and back then you guys would talk about your “never going to be made Deadpool script”…
Reese: Those were dark days.
Wernick: They were. We were so desperate. It was this little movie that we believed in so much and we were so passionate about it. We couldn’t stop talking about it.
You would tell anyone who would listen.
Wernick: Even people who wouldn’t listen.
Reese: Then the script leaked online and that didn’t help. And then the footage leaked online and that didn’t help.
Was the footage a real leak? That felt like a planned leak.
Wernick: It was a little bit of a plan, but it wasn’t through Fox. It was actually leaked – you know, I don’t think we can ever reveal it.
Reese: No, I don’t think so. But it was twice removed from anyone on the movie. So it was someone who was a really big fan of one of our people in the movie and just wanted him to see justice and put it out there. And it actually didn’t help.
Wernick: It helped…
It had to help. I remember that day and everyone was talking about it.
Reese: It didn’t get it made though.
Wernick: It didn’t get it greenlit.
Reese: It was still a little bit later that it actually happened, but it didn’t hurt.
And now here we are for the sequel.
Reese: I know. It really is a “pinch us” moment.
Wernick: Not to get all teary-eyed, but it’s a dream come true for us and we never, ever could have expected. At the premiere, there were people waiting out there in Deadpool suits since 5 a.m. to just be in the area, not even see the movie. It feels amazing.
So what did you most want to accomplish with a sequel? There does seem to be a slightly different tone. Maybe that’s not the right word…
Wernick: It’s maybe a different theme. This really is a story about a dysfunctional group of individuals, the primary being Deadpool, being lost in the world and needing that family anchor and finding it at the end with Cable and Domino and his X-Force team.
Pat Benatar’s “We Belong” plays a big role.
Reese: Ah! You know, originally it plays when they jump out of the helicopter as opposed to AC/DC. And that is sort of a bummer to us because we did love “We Belong” while jumping out of the helicopter and then being reprised later. We love older music and ironic music. But that was not ironic, it’s one that actually did fit the moment.
I saw people tear up.
Reese: We love Pat Benatar.
I remember hearing Casey Kasem on an old American Top 40 say that when she recorded that song she was pregnant and she’s singing to her child…
Reese: Is that right? I did not know that!
Wernick: Interesting! That makes it even better.
Reese: So maybe better we did take it out and put in “Thunderstruck.”
“Thunderstruck” does work pretty well in that scene because it gets you all excited, then the rug is pulled out.
Reese: I think it was even used in Iron Man 2, so it was a “pump me up” played straight in a superhero movie. And we are going to play it for the exact opposite reason.
I love it when a joke happens and it’s just really funny to a few people. The one that got me was when Zeitgeist introduces himself and Deadpool sincerely asks, “Oh, so you have your finger on the pulse of society?” He seemed so intrigued.
Reese: “No, I spit acidic vomit.”
Wernick: That really is one of the treats of Deadpool. Not all jokes land with all people and we almost like the ones that don’t land with most people…
Reese: And land really hard with some people.
Wernick: That’s the joy of a Deadpool movie that every moment doesn’t have to appeal to everyone at every time and every second.
Reese: I tried to make that argument to Ryan Reynolds over the Davis Love III joke but he just wouldn’t go for it. He just wouldn’t put that joke in.
Wernick: Nine-tenths of people don’t know who David Love III is! Do you know who Davis Love III is?
Yes. He’s a golfer.
Reese: Yeah! He was talking about Peter [Rob Delaney] and says, “You’ve done more for Dockers than anyone since Davis Love III.”
Yeah, that’s good.
Reese: He thought that was too obscure!
He’s a really famous golfer.
Reese: That’s what I said! But we just put it into a piece of marketing and he said the line and he turns around and yells, “Rhett!”
Were there any post-credit scenes that didn’t make it in?
Wernick: There were different codas kicked around. There were more X-Force interviews that were talked about. One was Chris Evans as Human Torch.
Oh, why didn’t that happen? That would have been great.
Wernick: I know…
Did Chris Evans say no?
Reese: No, no, we never got that far. Someone had the idea we actually did and we thought that was better. But we definitely had a lot more X-Force interviews with bizarre, random people coming in to interview.
Not revealing what you did use, but it is going over very well…
Reese: Well that’s why we took out the killing of baby Hitler.
Reese: Deadpool goes back and kills baby Hitler at the very end. That’s what was supposed to happen.
Wernick: And not just supposed to happen, we shot it.
Reese: We shot it and we put it in front of an audience. He’s got the crib and he’s standing in the German nursery and he’s leaning over the crib to do it and there was kind of this, “ohhhhh.” And we thought we don’t want to leave the crowd on an “ohhhhh.” So it ended up coming out.
A couple years ago SNL cut a sketch at dress where time travelers keep coming back to kill baby Hitler and Hitler’s mom keeps wondering why that keeps happening.
Reese: Oh that’s really funny. Our last moment was Deadpool saying “Maximum effort!” as he goes in to throttle the baby. It does make you squeamish.
Wernick: There’s even a draft of that scene where we back it up even more where he’s standing over baby Hitler and says, “God, that is a toughie.” He finds a Sharpie and draws a mustache on the baby – a little baby mustache – and says “Maximum effort!”
Reese: Now he looks just enough like him that he can get up the courage to do it.
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