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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 16 July 2018

Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds on playing a refreshing antithesis to a standard superhero 

Deadpool is back on screen. But, as actor Ryan Reynolds tells us, the sweary anti-superhero never went away

Ryan Reynolds has starred in, written and produced 'Deadpool 2'. EPA
Ryan Reynolds has starred in, written and produced 'Deadpool 2'. EPA

You might not have been ­expecting this, but Deadpool 2 is a family film ­according to its star, producer and co-writer Ryan Reynolds: “It might sound strange to say, but we took a lot of the story tenets from Pixar as ­inspiration for creating the Deadpool 2 storyline and its inevitable conclusion,” Reynolds tells me.

“We really wanted to have that same kind of feel that there is magic in the world, and there is hope in the world. So, you sort of package all of that within this construct of this anarchist, this guy who is his own worst enemy and just gets in his own way as much as humanly possible. And that creates a recipe for not just hilarity but also, weirdly, for drama.”

The much-loved animated children’s film giant Pixar probably isn’t the first name you’d associate with Reynolds’ foul-mouthed anti-superhero, but the actor is firm in his insistence that the home of Toy Story and Cars was an ­inspiration for the latest bout of ­mayhem: “We wouldn’t want you to think of Pixar, but we definitely had some of those beats,” Reynolds ­explains. “We love what they do with their ­characters and how there’s a plant or payoff for every character. And you try to make sure that every character has an arc no matter how small or big. That’s something that Pixar does very well.”

“And that’s something we were aiming for,” he adds.

Self-confessed Deadpool Fan

Reynolds is a self-confessed Deadpool fan – fittingly since the admiration is returned in the comic books, where Deadpool describes himself as “a cross between a Shar-Pei and Ryan Reynolds”. He worked for 12 years to ­finally bring the 2016 movie to screens, and the actor admits that the wisecracking, costumed crusader has taken over his life in a manner far beyond most roles. “I don’t have a life outside this film. It swallows my entire life whole,” he says. “Any extra time that I think most actors would devote to other ideas or projects they were developing, I don’t really have that luxury. I’m really just focused exclusively on working on Deadpool.”

At least Reynolds doesn’t feel undue pressure on account of acting as star, writer, and producer on the movie: “They all sort of blend into one. I know how to play Deadpool, and I know how to put him on the screen. So, on this second film I’m often more focused on making sure that [Deadpool’s time travelling foe/sidekick] Cable has a proper introduction to the audience in a way that best represents Cable from the comic books.”

Cable’s introduction to the Deadpool franchise, in the shape of actor Josh Brolin, has been eagerly anticipated by fans ever since he was name-checked in the post-credits scene of the 2016 film, and Reynolds seems confident fans won’t be disappointed by the new arrival, who seems set to help Deadpool form X-Force, an X-Men inspired, but somewhat more flawed, team of superheroes in the new movie:

“Cable brings a presence to the film that is really important because when you have Deadpool, who at core and heart is a 16-year-old boy, you need an adult around,” Reynolds says. “That’s what Cable represents, even though he is morally flexible and walks a tightrope between villain and hero throughout the movie. But then, everybody that goes on to be a part of X-Force is to some degree morally flexible and anarchic in a way.”

More new faces to know

Cable will be joined in the movie by returning characters, including Briana Hildebrand’s atomic-powered Negasonic Teenage Warhead, and Stefan Kapicic’s Colossus, as well as fellow newcomers including Zazie Beetz’s fate-defying Domino and Firefist, played by teen actor Julian Dennison. He was last seen in the critically acclaimed Hunt for the ­Wilderpeople, for which he received rave reviews for his performance, and he now follows its director, fellow New Zealander Taika Waititi, into superhero blockbuster territory – Waititi recently directed 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok.

The Waititi link is no coincidence, Reynolds reveals: “I’m friends with Taika Waititi and Hunt for the Wilderpeople was one of the best movies I think I’d ever seen,” the star says.

“Julian is at once kind of dangerous and heartbreaking at the same time, that’s just sort of what he does, whether he’s speaking or not speaking on camera. We needed a ­character that creates a conflict for the audience. A character that is in over his head and is going down a path that is incredibly destructive, but at the same time we want the audience to feel empathy for him and we want someone, anyone, to save him.

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So he’s sort of the primary conflict between Cable and Deadpool. That’s where they’re at odds, when it comes to this kid. So Julian had to hit a very precise point, a very small target, and he just did it over and over again. And we were really, ­really happy with everything that he did,” he explains.

The future for Deadpool?

As is customary with any big-ticket superhero movie, Reynolds didn’t give too much away regarding the film’s plot, beyond the fact that the new characters would be joining him in X-Force, but he did promise that the new movie will continue to act as a refreshing antithesis to standard superhero fare.

“I think Deadpool exists in the space he exists in because all the other superheroes, unfortunately or fortunately, are virtuous,” he says. “They have a kind of high ideal and a moral compass that is unwavering and strong, and so they’re always destined to do the right thing. With these guys – Deadpool, Cable, Domino – we don’t know that they’re necessarily going to do the right moral thing. They’re going to do the thing that best suits their agenda.”

That moral ambiguity, of course, is a huge reason why Deadpool was so popular last time around – it was 2016’s highest grossing R-­rated film ever – and looks set to continue being so for some time to come. An X-Force film is already in the pipeline, while Brolin has been signed up to play Cable in another three films.

Disney CEO Bob Iger, meanwhile, has confirmed that Deadpool is set to be integrated into the main Marvel Cinematic Universe following a partial merger with 21st Century Fox, which previously held Deadpool’s rights. As if that’s not enough, a Deadpool 3 is under discussion (but not yet confirmed), so rest assured that you’ll be seeing plenty more of the irreverent antihero in the years to come.