The test footage for Deadpool is already the stuff of Hollywood legend, with its mysterious leak online in 2014 spurring Fox executives to finally greenlight the long-stalled production, resulting in not only a 2016 box-office hit, but also a blockbuster sequel and a planned spinoff. Although it's still (mostly) uncertain who was behind the leak, we now have another layer to the myth: Ryan Reynolds shot the footage on the same day in 2011 that his bomb Green Lantern arrived in theaters.
Reynolds was busy in 2011, when, in addition to starring as Hal Jordan in Warner Bros.' Green Lantern, he was also attempting to bring Wade Wilson back to life after X-Men Origins: Wolverine. It's no secret the actor has long wanted to play the Merc With a Mouth in a standalone movie, but the character's maligned appearance in Origins cast doubt over that possibility.
Deadpool co-creator Rob Liefeld confirmed to Collider that the test footage for Tim Miller's movie was shot at the same time Green Lantern was bombing at the box office. “I would go watch that footage at Tim’s studio for three years. People forget! That footage was filmed in 2011," Liefeld revealed. "Ryan filmed that the weekend Green Lantern came out. I was at Blur Studios. Ryan filmed that the weekend Green Lantern was opening, that’s how old that footage is!”
Fox CEO Tom Rothman was reportedly unimpressed with the result, and the test footage didn't see the light of day until 2014, when it was leaked online. Reynold's performance gained widespread attention and led to Fox greenlighting Deadpool months later.
The road to Deadpool was clearly a long one, and Fox took a huge gamble with the movie. The film went on to become the highest-grossing R-rated release of all time and spawned the similarly profitable Deadpool 2 only this year. Considering Reynolds was already getting his head into Deadpool space while promoting Green Lantern, it makes Deadpool 2's post-credit joke at Warner Bros. all the more ironic.
Green Lantern was intended to launch a franchise and serve as the cornerstone of a shared DC cinematic universe. However, it was a critical and commercial failure, leading Warner Bros. to abandon a planned sequel, cancel an animated series, and postpone that cinematic universe. Now Green Lantern is widely regarded as a punchline, not only in Deadpool 2 but also in Warner Bros.' upcoming Teen Titans Go! to the Movies. Heck, even the studio can see the humor in its 2011 flop now.
Deadpool kickstarted a wider branch of more adult X-Men movies away from the already-established group of Charles Xavier's gifted youngsters. As well as a possible third Deadpool movie and the consistent rumors of Channing Tatum's Gambit, Drew Goddard is now tackling X-Force, which is once again expected to see Reynolds return to play Deadpool.
David Leitch’s Deadpool 2 stars Ryan Reynolds as the titular Deadpool, Morena Baccarin as Vanessa, T.J. Miller as Weasel, Leslie Uggams as Blind Al, Brianna Hildebrand as Negasonic Teenage Warhead, Stefan Kapičić as Colossus, Zazie Beetz as Domino, Julian Dennison as Russell and Josh Brolin as Cable.