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'Deadpool 2' and the Perils of Success

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As per usual, the Internet went insane in the wake of Saturday's shocking reveal that Deadpool director Tim Miller fled the upcoming sequel over what was described as 'creative differences' between himself and star Ryan Reynolds.

Almost as soon as the news trickled out, fanboys (and girls) launched online petitions asking for Quentin Tarantino to be brought on board as a replacement, because as you know, Tarantino is clearly the only director able to pull off the sort of ultraviolence that a film like Deadpool 2 clearly requires.

Conversely, as soon as the petitions went up, another faction demanded that the new director be a woman, because that's also where we are these days, which on the whole, is fine, but in the midst of all these non-official decisions, I think it's best we all step back, take a collective breath and discuss why it is that not only is Miller's departure not an emergency, it might be necessary, because too much success too soon often leads to disaster.

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Here's the thing about success: it's easier to stumble into than it is to recreate. Let's pretend for a moment that everyone involved--the entire team behind the original film--came back for the sequel. In that instance, you'd have one of three outcomes:

A) The film would be more of the same, which could be good or bad, depending on how recycled the jokes were and how much more Fox is willing to spend on the budget.

B) Overwhelming expectations would pressure Miller and Reynolds to create something too ambitious and as they spared no expense, they lost pretty much everything that made the first film beloved, not because it was a home run, because it wasn't, but because people were surprised the thing made it to screen in the form it did in the first place.

C) Deadpool 2 is miles ahead of the original and manages to not only double its box office take, but also garners no less than three to five Oscar nominations.

So basically, if my little metric here is true, Deadpool 2 under Miller's direction would have only a one-third's chance of being a rousing success. Not exactly a long shot, but certainly enough to lend sobering credence to the notion that Miller's departure may not be such a bad thing.

Now if we were to be optimistic about Miller, then the argument for keeping him would've been anchored around the idea that Bryan Singer managed to succeed on a budget-constrained X-Men in 2000, and parlay it into an even more successful X2, which blew up at the box office, justifying the much-larger budget.

That said, the difference between Singer and Miller is that Singer had the experience that Miller did not with films like The Usual Suspects under his belt. Before Deadpool, Miller's primary work was all digital effects, and while that was a huge benefit to a movie with a minuscule budget, one can't help but wonder whether or not more money and more creative freedom would end up being a negative for a director fresh off a big success.

Just ask Josh Trank.

While the parting was reported as 'amicable' (PRO TIP: They usually aren't), the reasoning for the rift actually makes sense. Reynolds wanted a film that fit more into the above-mentioned category A, and Miller wanted a film somewhere between categories B and C.

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It certainly was no secret that Deadpool 2 is including Cable, and while fan interest focused on Ron Perlman or Steven Lang, Miller was interested in Kyle Chandler. While on the surface not an awful choice, neither fans or Reynolds were on board with the potential casting, and it was only a portion of an overall picture of discord between the two on a vision that could kill the franchise before it ever fully took flight.

As a spectator, if I have to choose between Reynolds or Miller, I'm riding with Reynolds, and it's only because his almost fanatical desire to get Deadpool right generated the sort of good will that put the film over the top. While Miller arguably got the ball rolling by releasing the now legendary test footage that got the into production, there's just something that says a fresh set of eyes could take the baton and truly lead to something better.

It's simply too early to say for sure what's going to happen, and more importantly, no matter what the fans think they may want, aiming as high as Tarantino for the sequel would likely do more harm than good. The reality is that if Tarantino wanted to do a superhero flick by now, it would've been a done deal some time ago. Tarantino does best when he's adapting his own material his way, and even a director with his stature would not be given total latitude from Fox with a higher budget. 

In short, it's a recipe for disaster, so please, stop with the Tarantino.

Although we've already covered how hard it is to catch lightning in a bottle twice, the easiest path to success is to bring a director on board who understands the sort of humor that buffers the violent nature of Deadpool. Reynolds needs a good director to allow him to indulge to a point, while also reining him in before he glides into self-parody (more than the acceptable level of self-parody).

There's quite a bit riding on Deadpool 2, but with more than a year and a half before it's 2018 release, fans need to chill out and let the process take care of itself. Miller leaving could actually be a good thing, and with a new franchise that sports this much good will, it's probably better to focus on the promise of an even better film than the first.

That is, unless Bryan Singer is named as the replacement. Then you can panic.


Hashim hathaway

Hashim R. Hathaway

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