The Hitman's Bodyguard sure is going out of its way to look like a parody of the 1992 film The Bodyguard. The film's title is obviously similar, its trailer is set to Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You," and the poster features Ryan Reynolds carrying Samuel L. Jackson à la Kevin Costner and Houston on the '92 film's poster. But is The Hitman's Bodyguard a Bodyguard parody, or is the film's marketing just acting like it is?
Despite the new movie's marketing and supposed similarities, it's not really meant to be a parody. It's an action/comedy about a bodyguard (Ryan Reynolds) who's tasked with protecting a hitman (Samuel L. Jackson) who happens to be his mortal enemy so he can testify against a ruthless dictator. It's much more of an action film than The Bodyguard, which was a romantic thriller about a former secret service agent turned bodyguard (Costner) who falls in love with the singer he's hired to protect (Houston). As you can see, the plots of the two films — with the exception that they both feature bodyguards — aren't similar in the slightest. So how did The Hitman's Bodyguard end up looking like a parody of The Bodyguard in its marketing?
That's not entirely clear. The movie's original script by Tom O'Connor was actually a straight up dramatic action film and not a comedy, and it wasn't until a major rewrite that took place just weeks before filming, once Reynolds and Jackson were signed on, that it became the buddy action/comedy it is now. "I don't think this movie would work if it was serious," Reynolds told Vice's Larry Fitzmaurice.
Back in 2011, when Skydance Productions originally bought the rights to O'Connor's script, they weren't comparing it to The Bodyguard at all. Instead, it was '80s actioner Lethal Weapon that drew comparisons from the studio's Dana Goldberg, who told Variety's Justin Kroll, "The relationship between the two main characters is reminiscent of Lethal Weapon, and that, combined with a great story and action, made this a perfect fit for Skydance."
So where did this Bodyguard parody idea come from? My best guess is that someone in the movie's marketing department noticed that the film's title was just one word away from The Bodyguard, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, and decided to run with the comparisons. Reynolds' irreverent humor post-Deadpool seems a perfect match for the parody angle, and so the film went all in on that in its marketing in an apparent attempt to go after the same audience that made the superhero comedy a smash hit last year.
That's my theory anyway, and whether or not it's true isn't important. What is important is this: The Hitman's Bodyguard is an original story, and not a parody of The Bodyguard, so don't go into it expecting tons of Whitney Houston references.