Why Ryan Reynolds Deserves To Be 'EW's Entertainer Of The Year
When Deadpool was released in February of this year, I honestly didn't want to get my hopes up too high for how good it would be. Though the trailers hinted at its acerbic brilliance, a part of me (the one that inspired me to steal my brother's Deadpool covers when I was a kid) was still concerned that the film would be diluted from the source material. You know, just another superhero movie in an industry saturated by them. Except, it was far from that. In fact, Deadpool was one of the best films of the year. So it's gratifying to see that Ryan Reynolds is Entertainment Weekly's Entertainer Of The Year for 2016, because, without him, Deadpool may never happened. At least, not as we know it.
And that isn't just because of his' raucous performance as the Merc With A Mouth, though it's without a doubt the role he was born to play. (You can witness the wry cadences of Deadpool evident in roles like Blade 2 and Two Guys, A Girl And A Pizza Place, early on in Reynolds' career.) But its the fact that Reynolds spent a decade fighting to get Deadpool made that's truly impressive, and which I feel is reflected in the overall quality and success of the final movie.
In the EW article celebrating Reynolds' contributions to entertainment in 2016, he explains how the ubiquity of superhero movies helped bolster Deadpool's appeal beyond the comic book anti-hero's core fan base:
I knew that this was going to speak to the very core of the Deadpool fan base, and I knew they would embrace it. I think it just really landed at a fortunate time. We were right at ‘peak superhero,’ particularly in the sense that the superheroes were all intermittently clenching their jaw muscles and brooding. Deadpool came along and sort of threw all that on its ass.
And it definitely did. Superbly offbeat and extremely R-rated, Deadpool was exactly the sort of film that audiences rarely get to see on the big screen anymore. Add into that a fourth-wall-breaking lead character with a proclivity for pointing out overused superhero cliches as they happen and for mocking the overall macho, hetero standards of an entire movie genre, and Deadpool wasn't just refreshing. It was a stupendous anomaly. One that felt aggressively free of many of the usual doctrines of Hollywood movies.
So it was no surprise to hear that Reynolds fought for this to be the case during every step of production. Having started talks regarding the movie back in 2005, Reynolds was frustrated with the production process. Reynolds told the LA Times in February 2016 that the Deadpool development process was being "turned into a roller-coaster ride of stagnation." In 2009, to add insult to injury, he appeared as a version of the generally verbose Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, with his mouth sewn up.
Fast forward to 2012, and Deadpool test footage featuring Reynolds in the role was leaked online — much to the approval and joy of fans who acknowledged how faithful to the comic books the footage appeared to be. In the end, the studio got in on the joke in the marketing for the film and in the film, both of which called out both the baffling portrayal of the superhero and made several self-deprecating jokes directed at Fox. For example, one early trailer described the film as coming "from the studio that inexplicably sewed his f*cking mouth shut the first time."
His perseverance and personal investment, then, is evident in how great Deadpool turned out, and his determination to get the movie made despite every obstacle is truly inspiring. Modern cinema has a habit of playing it safe and of becoming repetitive and stale. And it isn't just superhero movies that are culpable of those mistakes, but mainstream movies overall. When a film like Deadpool happens, and is a roaring success, it's proof of the power of risktaking and of trusting in audiences to respond to those risks.
In 2016, cinema was primed and ready for a movie that could subvert stereotypes and expectations, and that didn't patronize or insult the intelligence of its audience. Instead, Deadpool literally addressed the audience, and, with a wink and a smile, gave us all what we were all too ready and willing to enjoy on screen. And, suffice to say, we definitely have Reynolds to thank for a great deal of that.
Images: Giphy (2)