The Deadpool movie took a lot of people by surprise. Directed by Tim Miller and staring Ryan Reynolds, the film had been in production for over 10 years. Released with an R-rating, it was a success at the box office and a sequel was immediately announced.
One of the biggest and most vocal fans of the movie was Deadpool creator Rob Liefeld. Liefeld has an obvious personal attachment, but he’s also a man that tells it like it is. We had the chance to talk to him about the movie, how the character compares to the comics, what it was like to be on set in the movie, and what he can tell us about the sequel.
GameSpot: What’s it like seeing Deadpool everywhere outside of comics?
Rob Liefeld: Oh my, it’s been great. It’s been building for years. You go into any mall in America and go into Hot Topic or Spencer’s or even Target and there he is. I have to hand it to Marvel, who handles the majority of the licensing for the characters, especially non-movie stuff, they put Deadpool everywhere. I mean, Funko Pops, posters, t-shirts, watches, wallets, etc, and you go, “That came from my head.”
There are moments where you go, “What if I never sold that sketch?” or “What if I never brokered that deal and sold this character to Marvel?” It’s very exciting. I’ve never, on that scale, experienced anything like it. Now, to know it’s not going to stop anytime soon, I want to go to the mall and see what the new stuff is. There’s also the manufacturing time. If someone wanted something back in October, it’s probably just hitting production. My shelves are completely overrun with this stuff because it’s a blast! It’s like, “Hey, look at this 3D rendering of my drawings.” It’s a lot of fun. It’s great.
How do you feel about the character’s evolution since you and Fabian [Nicieza] first created him?
Which one? Let’s be honest, there’s ten evolutions to this character. What’s happened is he’s reached a realm in the comics where I would say he’s zany. When you have Deadpool Kills Deadpool, the miniseries, and he’s killing all the Deadpools, there’s a sense of reality where, at this point, you say, “This is outrageous.” And it works. It’s the same reason a Funko Pop is standing on my shelf next to the most realistic sculpted Deadpool statue with his two guns out. He looks like a guy that would scare the crap out of you if he jumped out at you from an alley, but he’s next to the snuggly Dorbz and the Funko Pops. I just love that they figured out a way to give him to five-year-olds, fifteen-year-olds, and forty-five-year-old moms who need a drink when they get home after pumping gas at the gas station with Mike’s Hard Lemonade. I mean, come on, what kind of gamut is that? He’s not just in the toy aisle at Target, he’s in the kiddie section. Just below the princess stuff, you can get a snuggly Deadpool. You can get action figures in the action figure aisle. At every gas station in America right now, he’s on Mike’s Hard Lemonade. You can go get hammered with Deadpool. Tell me a character that runs that gamut. You can’t find one.
What I do love the most, I’ll be honest, the Deadpool movie is my favorite version of the character. He’s more grounded and less zany. He’s closer to the original first six years of Deadpool. He’s not punching a dinosaur out. He’s not battling zombies. He’s more a mercenary or super-soldier. It’s not as outrageous as the character has grown in the current books. I’m not sure if it ever will be. When I talk to the writers of the movie, they come from a place of groundedness. That’s why I think the movie worked so well. The guy that created Wade and Vanessa can tell you, and has told them for years, “I never did them as good as you did. I never got it this good.” Credit where it’s due. Wow. People ask me, “Hey, where can I read that love story between Vanessa and Wade in the comics?” You can’t. They did that. My son asked, “Hey, where can see that 12 bullets action scene on the freeway? Did they adapt that?” Nope! Not available! That’s original. That’s Rhett [Reese] and Paul [Wernick]. “Hey, where’s that montage where he hunts Francis?” Not available. My favorite is, “Where in the comics did Deadpool team up with Negasonic?”
If we could go back in time, you and me, and make that comic, like 10 years ago…oh my gosh! That book would be worth like $300. People want access to these memories and they don’t exist because Paul and Rhett told a great story with a ton of heart. It really shows you the advantage of taking twenty years of material, mixing it up, and maybe slowing it down a little, and processing it differently. They have that advantage and built out a much superior love story than any Deadpool’s had. It’s a far superior conflict with a rogue. Ajax was in about three issues of the comic. What Ed [Skrein], Tim, Rhett, and Paul do with him is fantastic. That’s all the filmmakers. Credit where credit is due. I can hold up New Mutants #98 and say, “From one million eyeballs” and hold up the DVD and say, “$716 million dollars box office.” That’s a long journey. The movie has eclipsed everything.
How many times have you watched it?
I am on my eighteenth viewing. Prior to the movie opening, I had seen it eight times. I was fortunate enough to go to the test screenings. I was lucky to be part of Fox’s traveling fan events. When we did the Blu-ray commentary, Tim and I sat in the theater and watched it back to back twice. Then we went to the last fan event before the movie was released at the IMAX headquarters. That was the day I went, “Okay, I dig this movie, I just saw it three times.” From noon to nine o’clock, I watched it three times. I know it’s creepy or weird. “Oh hey, I really like this movie that I participated in.” It’s so narcissistic, but it’s a good movie. If the movie was called another character, I would still dig it so much because of the way it doubles from action to comedy to love story to drama. It four movies in one. It never feels awkward when they transition. I think that’s why people have responded to it. By the end of the movie, you’re rooting for all these characters.
It’s not the first time a movie has enhanced a character and been a superior product to the comic book. The comic books are good. If I haven’t made that clear, I love them all. For all their zaniness…I’m the guy that put five Deadpools in a spaceship and took them around the galaxy. I can’t sit here and say I don’t get the zany. So I may not have effectively praised the comics. I think they’ve never been better than they have in the last year. I do wonder if everyone felt the specter of the movie coming and everyone has collectively raised their game. I know I feel it on the graphic novel I’m doing myself.
The movie that did this originally was when Superman: The Movie came out in 1978. That wasn’t the Superman I was used to seeing. That was a Krypton I had never encountered in my six years of reading comic books. I had a lot of comics and Krypton wasn’t a crystalline construct and Jor-El wasn’t walking around in silver robes. We always knew Superman came to Earth in like a 1950s rocket ship. Now he was flying in a chandelier. Lex Luthor was in green and purple tights with a jetpack when I was a kid. That’s how he looked on Super Friends. In the movie he was a comedic terrorist, as portrayed by Gene Hackman. The movie took some departures and gave us a better product and maybe a more commercial vision. I would also throw in Nolan’s Batman Begins. I know we live in this nerd-entitled culture, and I’m part of it. We feel the movies never get the comic books right. A lot of the times they get them better.
My son is fifteen-years-old and all his friends go to see all the superhero movies. When I’ve asked my son, driving home from school, “Hey, are your buddies comic book fans?” He tells me they’re not comic book fans but Marvel superhero movie fans. What an answer. They all went and saw Deadpool, multiple times. I had to convince my son it was something worth seeing. Previous he felt it was just “dad’s thing.” He didn’t think it was cool at all. Ryan Reynold’s Deadpool is the Deadpool people know now. When we all talk about Superman, we see Christopher Reeve. With all the product available, Deadpool’s never been in a better place.
I don’t remember what the question was.
As a fan of the movie yourself, and separating yourself from any involvement, what would you like to see in the sequel?
Oh man, I’m going to get in trouble. I can’t really talk about the sequel. What do I want to see? I want to see Tim, Rhett, Paul, and Ryan back together again. Woo! Dodged that bullet, right? I’ll tell you, little Robby Liefeld was nervous because I’ve grown up in Southern California. The Hollywood stuff is right up the street. My family has been in and out of the entertainment business. My wife and her sisters are involved and my brother-in-law is a casting director. You get the algorithm of the business just down the freeway from us. This movie was such a monster success. Sometimes success can turn something into a big monolithic thing that becomes difficult to wrangle. Kudos to Fox management for not letting the movie get away from them and bringing everybody back. I think we’re all in for a huge treat. I didn’t get enough of Ryan and Deadpool.
I went to one of the first test screenings in December, I was a half hour early and Tim was standing outside. We were supposed to stand away from the test audience because they didn’t know what they were seeing. They were told when they were in their seats right before the lights went out. Tim grabbed me and said, “I really feel bad there’s not more swordplay in the movie.” I just made a mental note to myself. Then, ten minutes later, Deadpool kabobs that guy. Clearly we had usage of swords. There was also, in the third act, when Negasonic asked Deadpool where was his bag of weapons, he had to use his swords. He proceeded to chop everybody up. He chops a guy’s head off and dropkicks it. He had a sword fight with Ajax. I told Tim there was so much swordplay. In all sincerity, Tim was like, “Yeah, I just wish there was more.” That is my wish for Deadpool. I’m ready. Let’s do it.
I’m just excited. That announcement a few weeks ago, at CinemaCon, that everyone was coming back, was a huge deal. It was a big achievement. Do we really think the rest of Hollywood is not trying to hire Tim Miller away? It had a $58 million budget and was a $760 million success. I’m sure there were trucks lined up on the street, ready to back them up for Tim. Getting all those guys is a huge triumph. That’s the key piece. I know it’s not as exciting as me telling you content of the movie, but I like Fox. I don’t want them to hurt me.
Can you tell us how excited you are about Cable?
You know, I can’t. [laughs] I cannot comment on the man known as Cable, other than to say they did not tell me at the test screening the tag was on it at the end. This was like the first week of December. The movie is still not opening for two and a half months. When Deadpool comes back into the room and mentions Cable, let me tell you something, dude, it was hard to contain myself. [Producer] Simon Kinberg was sitting behind me and grabbed my shoulders and said, “How great is that?” He had a big grin like, “You didn’t see that coming, did ya?” The crappy part was, I couldn’t say anything about it for two and a half months!
That was pretty exciting. What it’s saying is, there’s a big old world we’re about to kick the door down on. There’s a lot behind that door. It’s a very exciting time.
How was it filming the cameo?
That was a blast. Completely unexpected too. Tim called me up and said, “Hey Rob, you want to be in the strip club or the bar?” My kid saw the text, actually. I was on the convention trail and was in one of the hotel rooms. My son was traveling with me. I’ve raised some very well behaved young men. He goes, “Dad! You can’t be in the strip club! What would mom think?” I had to tell him to calm down. He shouldn’t have been looking at dad’s texts, but I shouldn’t have left my phone lying there on the bed either. So I told Tim the bar would be good. Those were some funny scenes. I was there for the entire Wade and Vanessa meeting, the big bar fight that broke out, and all the crazy stuff. It was just fun to be there.
The entire time, I couldn’t believe the movie that has taken eleven years to come to screen with nine hard years of development, was being made. There’s a slate, and it says “Deadpool” on it. It was weird. The entire city of Vancouver had been co-opted and shut down for the movie for two weeks. Everyone there was super-cool. I got to sit in the bar and watch a character of mine do his thing. I saw my name up on the board under Deadpool and took a bunch of pictures. I was promptly told, “You can’t show those.”
The day before I was there, they shot the scene where he loads up all the guns and says goodbye to T.J. [Miller] and Blind Al to go off and battle Ajax. Tim had that footage and showed it to me right there. I got to see Ryan in the suit right then. To be honest, the best part was going in and meeting the make up team. They showed me the different evolution. I was literally holding Ryan’s scarred visage. It was like they cut off his head and froze him. I was like, “This is awesome!” You walk into the make up trailer and your art is up on the wall. There’s reference with your stuff on it. It’s exciting. It was like going to an amusement park. I was at a comic book amusement park, and I can’t wait to get back.
Deadpool is now available on Digital HD and will be released on Blu-ray and DVD on Tuesday, May 10.