Anyone who follows veteran comic creator Rob Liefeld on Twitter knows that the co-creator of Marvel's mouthy mercenary Deadpool never shies away from telling the world what he thinks about current events, sports, television, or just about anything else that catches his attention. He's refreshingly frank, responsive to fans, and always willing to chat up readers about that moment's topic of interest.
Last week, Liefeld's observations in the Twitter-verse attracted quite a bit of attention when he called out 20th Century Fox studio for its management — or perceived lack thereof — regarding the live-action "Deadpool" movie set to star Ryan Reynolds. Asking Fox "find its balls" and make a "filthy" Deadpool movie based on the widely circulated script from "Zombieland" writers Rhett Rheese and Paul Wernick, Liefeld offered up some blunt advice for the "X-Men" franchise studio.
In the aftermath of seeing his messages copied, pasted, and otherwise echoed around the online world, I reached out to Liefeld to get some context for his "Deadpool" comments outside the 140-character limitations of Twitter, and to find out why he thinks we haven't seen any movement on the film lately.
MTV NEWS: So... Rob... read any good blogs about what somebody said on Twitter lately?
ROB LIEFELD: [Laughs] Well, what I believe is, if you're talking on Twitter, you're talking out loud — but sometimes you go, "Really? This is news?"
MTV: So let's get right to it. What's going on — or not going on — with "Deadpool" these days?
LIEFELD: With the "Deadpool" film, it really boils down to to this: all the ingredients are there. What's the wait? I watch everything just like you do. You cover this business, and so do I as an interested party and a fan and somebody who has other films going. You look at development slates and what's going forward. You know how many people would kill to have Ryan Reynolds star in their movie?
Here we are, and Fox has him — he's already the bright spot of their last "X-Men" movie, and he's established. Technically, it's an "X-Men" spinoff, and the "X-Men" family are very successful films. ... So you've got Ryan Reynolds, who is the biggest star in the world as we speak, and that's not on the basis of some "Sexiest Man in the World" cover story, it's on the basis of what we've seen of him in "The Proposal" and the 10 minutes we saw in "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" and everyone knows his star is ascending. I tell everybody he's the next Will Smith. Everyone's tripping over themselves trying to get him in their movies, and Fox has him! He's already vetted as Deadpool, and there's even a script!
MTV: You mentioned on Twitter that you'd read the "Deadpool" script and loved it...
LIEFELD: You know what they say about "if it's not on the page, it's not on the screen"? Well, it's all there on the page. That script is brilliant. It doesn't need any adjusting, it doesn't need any vetting, it's just brilliant. It's like nothing else that's out there. Anyone who's read it knows that this is the comics film we've been waiting for. It has all the action, the violence, and the unexpected original set pieces that you haven't seen but want to see. It has character, it has heart, and it's laugh-out-loud funny. So you can't help asking, what's the holdup here? Is "Deadpool" not on the priority list?
I really do not think they understand what they have here.
MTV: Is it because Deadpool was such an unknown commodity in the mainstream world before "X-Men Origins: Wolverine"? Why do you think there's such a holdup?
LIEFELD: I go to the conventions and travel the country every year and I'm deluged with people dressed as Deadpool — people who are dying for this. These people have created such a phenomenon that Marvel has five or six "Deadpool" books a month. I want to say, "Hey Fox, last I counted, that's more than Spider-Man!"
It's not like I don't live in southern California and have management and agents in this town. It's not like I don't hear things around town. If it's an issue of Fox being cheap, what's that about? Open up the pocketbooks. Between a smaller budget and a bigger budget, they might want to go bigger budget — history will tell you that. They should spend what they need to get a director and lock down the star. They have Ryan Reynolds and Reese and Wernick, who if you haven't noticed, are tearing up the town. There's a reason everybody wants them. Fox has the script that everybody thinks is their best piece of work.
MTV: Well, it seems like you're not finding much argument with what you said on Twitter. People want this "Deadpool" movie to happen, and everyone seems to like Reynolds, Reese, and Wernick on it...
LIEFELD: It's like this: If you have a voice and you do nothing with it, then you only have yourself to blame. I go to these conventions and my signature on a "Deadpool" book makes it go up an obscene amount of value, so I'm partially saddled with this situation, too. "Hey Liefeld, when's 'Deadpool' coming out?!" You know how often I'm asked that? But I don't have a green light on this...
I know the producers are awesome — the Donner people are great people. They have assembled a perfect storm, so let's go! Ryan Reynolds is amazingly bankable. Women love him, men love him. ... He has the Will Smith / Tom Cruise bankability, and you don't even need to ask him to star in the movie — he's already committed! He's a producer!
MTV: But this isn't the first time you've expressed (on Twitter) some worries about the movie — specifically, whether Reynolds would end up playing Deadpool...
LIEFELD: I'll be honest with you, I was worried there in the late Summer. I asked [on Twitter] if Ryan Reynolds was still interested in "Deadpool," because it would be completely understandable if he moved along to the next thing as his star was ascending. It would be understandable that he'd be swayed by other projects, big directors, etc.
I was collectively bitch-slapped by all of Ryan's reps, who made sure I knew Ryan was still totally committed to this. So hey, when I'm wrong, I'm wrong — but my questions were born out of fear. I was wondering if that ship was ever going to sail. But even Reese and Wernick have told you — they said it to you when you interviewed them — Ryan is in on every page of "Deadpool." He is there.
What are they trying to accomplish with Chris Evans as Captain America and Chris Hemsworth as Thor? They want them to attain the sort of status Ryan Reynolds already has right now!
MTV: What about the concerns over rating? There's always a push to avoid the "R" rating, so do you think that's par of the delay with the "Deadpool" movie?
LIEFELD: I hear what I hear. They don't know what to make of a "Deadpool" film. You read that script — we all get it. But didn't Fox spend $110 million making "A-Team," and even though it was a fun movie, didn't the $80 million "Expendables" blow that one out of the water? They were both fun movies, but "The Expendables" answered the question of whether people want their action movies hard, raw, and R-rated. Yes, we do. We grew up with "Predator," "Die Hard," and all the Schwarzenegger and [Sylvester] Stallone movies. They were all R-rated.
MTV: So I have to ask, why the sudden burst of comments about "Deadpool" now? Like we discussed, it's been a while since you last discussed it on Twitter like this...
LIEFELD: Here's the deal: After that last experience, I was a good boy for six weeks. I sat on my hands and I shut up. I waited... and nothing. So now it's like, what the hell is going on here?
MTV: Well, there's not much more to say about "Deadpool," it seems... but while I have you on the phone, what's the latest on "Youngblood" and your other projects headed to the movie world?
LIEFELD: There's another title like "Youngblood" — popular, extreme Image Comics title — that I can't say anything about yet because it is being scripted. It's got producers and everything, but there's no ink at this point. It's very far along and came together last spring.
"Youngblood" is still happening, too. Brett Ratner gets it. You're going to see "Youngblood" movies, you're going to see "Youngblood" cartoons. It still has a certain uniqueness of its own that nobody else has bottled. That one's firing on all cylinders.
I know "Capeshooters" is out to directors right now, too — so we're looking for something on that.
MTV: Great to hear. Well, thanks for talking with me, Rob. Always a fun conversation.
LIEFELD: Thanks a lot, Rick.
You can follow Rob Liefeld on Twitter at www.twitter.com/robertliefeld. Let us know what you think of the interview in the comment section or on Twitter! You can also follow me, Splash Page editor Rick Marshall, on Twitter!