While it seemed like it took forever for Fox to greenlight the Deadpool movie, which started it’s development around the time of X-Men Origins: Wolverine and took years before it began production. Another incarnation of the film actually started at a competing studio years before with a different group of writers and director, but still had Ryan Reynolds attached to star.
Back in 2004, David Goyer (Blade, Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, Batman Begins, Dark Knight) while making Blade: Trinity apparently wrote a draft for a Deadpool movie. At the time the character’s rights had been at New Line Cinema, where Goyer had a string of success with the first two Blade movies. He enjoyed working with Ryan on Trinity, where he played the fast-talking Hannibal King, and felt he’d be perfect fit for the Deadpool role. The intention at the time was that David would write and direct the project.
I discovered a string of news reports on the development of New Line’s Deadpool movie on IGN, which revealed that Goyer wasn’t the only writer that would get involved, as comic book writer Mark Millar was linked as potential co-writer on the project as well. Millar of course would deny any involvement, but IGN was confident from sources he was going to be involved in some sort of way.
IGN was able to get some quotes from Goyer about the project, where he clarified at the time Millar hadn’t written on the film, but acknowledged that he and New Line wanted to work together on “something”. Goyer also seemingly revealed himself as the one who pointed Marvel Studios in the direction of using Millar’s Ultimates for their Iron Man adaptation, which would end-up influencing their entire cinematic universe.
“I want to do something else with Ryan Reynolds because I really loved working with him and New Line wants to do something else with Ryan Reynolds and Marvel wants to do something with Ryan because there aren’t a lot of actors anymore that can do credible action and be funny and that are also good actors,” Goyer told reporters.
“Ryan, I think, coming out of this movie and I know it’s a lot to say will sort of be like where Mel Gibson was coming off of Lethal Weapon,” the Blade and Batman screenwriter said. “He can do it all. He never thought he could do action, ever. And he was in here last week with his girlfriend and I showed him some cut-together action stuff and said, ‘Can you believe that’s you?’ And he said, ‘No, I cannot!’ So, Deadpool came up as a possibility. We would completely reinvent it. We can’t connect it to Weapon X or anything like that. We’ll see.”
“Mark is a friend of mine and wants to get into screenwriting and we’ve talked about working on something together and Marvel’s talked about having Mark do something. When they first started working on Iron Man, I made the executives in charge of Iron Man read The Ultimates because I thought that take on Tony Stark was a very cool take,” Goyer explained.
“The people at New Line know Mark because of that and it’s somewhat influenced their approach to Iron Man. They weren’t ready to let Mark write the script, but I’d like to do something with Mark.”
It’s not shocking that Goyer likely has fingerprints on the MCU, as he was once attached to work on a Nick Fury movie at Dreamworks for producers Kevin Feige and Avi Arad, but had to turn it down to focus on Batman instead. He also wrote the notorious Nick Fury TV movie that starred David Hasselhoff. David also admitted that he was looking to consult on New Line’s Iron Man movie, where he had pointed them to Mark Millar’s take on the character in Ultimates, which used Samuel L. Jackson likeness for Fury.
They went even further by claiming Marvel Studios was considering producing the film, I assume under a similar deal they had with Universal Pictures when they made The Incredible Hulk. For whatever reason, I assume Blade: Trinity‘s terrible box office and poor critical reception, Goyer was never allowed to make he film pitched to New Line. The project ended-up in turnaround, and Fox became interested in making the project starting to develop their own version in 2005. It wasn’t until 2011 that Tim Miller was hired to direct, and three years later the film was finally greenlit.
You might remember, there was a rumored behind-the-scenes fight between Marvel Entertainment and Fox over getting the Deadpool movie approved, Marvel has to approve any film that includes their characters to make sure it won’t hurt the brand. It could actually have been bad-blood stemming from Fox pulling the plug on their purposed solo Deadpool movie they were going to make for New Line that made them hold-up it getting made.
Around the same time as this New Line incarnation, David Benioff (Game of Thrones, Troy) had penned the first draft of X-Men Origins: Wolverine with his script having an R-rating bend to it, he was the first to include Deadpool in the film. Ryan claims he was blackmailed into appearing in Origins, where he had come up with Wade’s lines due to the writers’ strike, and in return the studio would agree to make the solo film, threatening to cast someone else in the role.
“They sew his mouth shut, let lasers come out of his eyes. He has weird knives that fly out of his hands. I remember saying, ‘That’s really going to anger some people. That’s not Deadpool.’ And they basically said, ‘Well, you can play him or we can hire someone else to play him.’ So for me it was…I was a little bit blackmailed.”
Ryan of course got the last laugh, as his version of the film is looking like it could end-up the most successful X-Men film, and they’ve already greenlit it’s sequel.
I’m just super curious what this Goyer script looked like, and what characters they used if they couldn’t use X-Men or Weapon X.