So, have you heard? Footage from the Deadpool movie pitch leaked (ahem, but we're not posting it here).
Yes, the footage has been all over the internet, posted up and taken down nearly as quickly by Fox's legal team (hence us not posting). In fact, after a low quality version leaked first, a higher (about DVD) quality version popped up. The result has been a staggering amount of fan joy for the two minutes of footage that seems like a Deadpool fan's dream-come-true, and an equal amount of fan outrage that Fox hasn't backed up a truck full of money to everyone involved and made this a full-length feature film.
So Fox, we're giving those fans a central voice here: Why the heck haven't you made this movie?
The segment was animated by the incredibly talented folks at Blur Studio, known for their incredible video game trailers and intro videos (See: Star Wars: The Old Republic and DCU Online for two of my personal favorites), as well as the entire intro sequence to Thor: The Dark World, where Malekith's Dark Elves clash with Odin's father Bor. Directed by the Studio's Tim Miller, they used motion capture and voice over from Ryan Reynolds to get that extra dash of authenticity - while he played a "Wade Wilson/Deadpool" in X-Men: Origins - Wolverine, Reynolds has been very outspoken for years about wanting to play the classic comic book version of the character. It was comissioned by Fox, and based off the script by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, which itself has at times leaked partially and even in full on the internet.
Deadpool's creators are both very enthusiastic about the footage. Robert Liefeld, speaking to DailySuperHero.com, confirmed the footage and said he was privy to its creation from onset to the final product (this two minutes that has leaked is part of a larger pitch).
"I'm quite pleased at how it turned out," the artist said of the footage. "I'd also like to note that this was filmed 3 years ago this summer and that Tim and his crew have upped their game considerably beyond what you see here. I can only imagine how amazing Deadpool would look 3 years later with all of Tim's advancements as a director."
He also said this would be just the tip of the iceberg if the script's original vision came to life.
"One more thing, because Tim and Rhett and Paul were so generous with me and allowed me to witness the entire process from concept art to storyboards to pre-viz, I assure you there are many more impressive sequences beyond this one. If they were allowed to release the hounds, it would be incredible. You can see that they have a great command over the look and feel of Deadpool," Liefeld said.
The character's co-creator Fabian Nicieza agrees. In a post on his facebook page, the writer said, "If the opinion of the character's co-creator counts, this test footage from the long-dormant Fox Deadpool movie gets a big thumbs up. Tone is right, character voice by Ryan Reynolds is perfect. I avoided reading the Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick screenplay on-line, but I couldn't resist the test footage Tim Miller directed. Would love to see Fox finally realize that this movie would work, even if it was R-rated. It doesn't have to make X-Men or Marvel Studios box office numbers to be a success."
And therein lies the problem. The pitch, and the test footage, is definitely a "hard-R-Rated" pitch. The violence, the language - it's clear that the filmmakers have every intention of going all-out; even further than the comic usually goes (especially when it comes to language which for some reason can only be in MAX comics while dismemberment and beheading is fine for your standard Marvel book - but that's a whole different op/ed). Frankly, Fox - and likely every other studio, are scared of making a hard-R comic book movie. There are numbers to back that up, of course, with movies like the Blade trilogy each doing about $130-150 mil in worldwide gross, The Punisher pulling in a dismal $54 mil worldwide, and more recent high-profile release Kick-Ass 2 doing $60 mil across the globe (a decrease of 20 million domestically and 36 million worldwide from the first).
The thing is, Deadpool is an inherently different character from all of those. He's a popular Marvel Comics character with ties to the X-Men (a franchise seeing a revival at Fox) and a Q-rating that's never been higher. He's plastered all over Marvel Comics on a monthly basis, whether its in the pages of his ongoing series, guest starring spots, or just on covers making fun of internet memes (and occasionally other comic book companies). And most importantly, if this footage is any indication, he'd have the right mix of almost cartoony ultra-violence, irreverent humor, and action sequences that would keep any audience in their seats. And it has the blessing of his creators, something that comic fans are always happy to see. And hey, tone down the language (the leaked footage has several S and a couple F-bombs), and maybe roll back a little of the gore, and you can still hit that PG-13 sweet spot, opening up the audience considerably. According to Liefeld, the pitch has always been for a PG-13 film.
"The version under review is a PG-13 version, not an R," the creator tweeted. "The PG-13 rating now allows for truckloads of violence and edgy themes.... An R rated version is not a consideration and hasn't been for years."
So Fox, why haven't you made this movie? Take the fan's love and joy of this two minutes and use that - let it fuel you. Make Deadpool happen. It's time to try something new. It's time to watch Deadpool singing Gwen Stefani and kicking a guy out of a moving SUV. Make Deadpool happen.