The Real Reason ‘Deadpool’ Changed Directors for the Sequel

Deadpool was released in 2016, and it surpassed all expectations. Right down to the wire, most of the creatives involved with the film weren’t sure if it would be a success or a flop. A rated-R superhero movie with a trash-talking, fourth-wall-breaking mercenary as the lead was uncharted territory.

As we all know now with hindsight, fans loved it and the film smashed a few records for R-rated movie opening weekend and box office totals. The cast and crew set out to see if lightning would strike twice as they began working on Deadpool 2, but they moved forward without one key person, director Tim Miller.

Why didn’t Tim Miller direct the ‘Deadpool’ sequel?

Ryan Reynolds accepts an award at the MTV Movie Awards
Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool) | Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Tim Miller was experienced as a writer and visual effects artist, but he made his feature film directorial debut with Deadpool. Though the creative team on the film was passionate and hard-working, Miller butted heads with one person in particular, the titular star of the film, Ryan Reynolds. In a recent interview with the KCRW podcast, The Business, Miller reveals, “It became clear that Ryan wanted to be in control of the franchise. You can work that way as a director, quite successfully, but I can’t. I don’t mind having a debate, but if I can’t win, I don’t want to play.”

Out of context, this may sound like Reynolds was being a diva or overly-controlling for his position as an actor, but when you hear the full story, the reality of the situation becomes clear.

Why is Ryan Reynolds so set on controlling the ‘Deadpool’ franchise?

Deadpool is, in no uncertain terms, Ryan Reynolds’ baby. He wanted to create a Deadpool film and fought for it for years. In 2016 he was GQ’s Man of the Year and said in his interview, “Eleven years I’ve been trying to get this Sisyphus rock up the hill, and it kept rolling back on top of me. So I’m gonna be all the f*** over it from the moment it starts to the moment it finishes.”

The character of Deadpool originally appeared in the film X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but the character didn’t at all turn out to Reynolds’ liking. In fact, Deadpool’s mouth was sealed shut for most of his time on screen as he silently fought Wolverine. Not a great showing for a character known as “The Merc with a Mouth.”

After several rejections and this false start, Reynolds thought a project featuring Deadpool in all his mouthy glory would never get off the ground. When Fox finally offered a limited budget to get the film made, he and his team hit the ground running.

What did Ryan Reynolds have to say about the split with Tim Miller?

In Reynold’s 2016 interview with GQ, he said of Miller, “I know when I need to exert control, and I know when I need to let go of it. I’m not gonna go and sit with Tim Miller and say, ‘The visual effects of Deadpool need to be done this way.’ The man is a visual-effects wizard. But there are character and tone things that I know really well.”

Though their respective interviews were three years apart, it almost seems as if Miller is responding to this assertion when he adds in his KCRW interview, “I don’t think you can negotiate every creative decision, there’s too many to make. So Ryan’s the face of the franchise, and he was the most important component of that, by far. So if he decides he wants to control it, then he’s going to control it.” 

Reynolds has no hard feelings about the events with Miller finishing his GQ interview saying, “All I can really add is that I’m sad to see him off the film. Tim’s brilliant and nobody worked harder on Deadpool than he did.”

In the end, David Leitch, who had previously directed Atomic Blonde, was brought in to direct Deadpool 2. The sequel smashed the records set by Deadpool and remained at the top of the R-rated category until Joker knocked it to No. 2.