After two films that grossed almost $800 million each, a growing, star-studded ensemble, and a lead actor getting more popular by the day, a third Deadpool film feels like a no-brainer. However, if you’ve been reading headlines over the past few days, one person seems to have been very vocal about that not happening: Deadpool co-creator Rob Liefeld.
Earlier this month, Liefeld did two interviews where he expressed his doubts about a third Deadpool film happening and seemingly pointed the blame at Marvel Studios. Those interviews spawned headlines such as “Deadpool Creator Says Marvel Has ‘Zero’ Plans For a Sequel & Criticizes the Studio’s Upcoming Phase 4,” “Rob Liefeld Rips Into Marvel, Says Studio Has ‘Zero’ Plans for Deadpool 3”and “Deadpool Co-Creator Rob Liefeld Accuses Disney Of Delaying Deadpool 3.” According to Liefeld—who co-created the fourth-wall-breaking character with Fabian Nicieza in the early ‘90s—those articles and more turned his social media into a dumpster fire, with people angry over his comments. Liefeld called io9 hoping to clarify what he meant and why he still doesn’t think Deadpool 3 is happening.
“Do I know that there is no movement on a Deadpool 3 right now? I know that. Yes,” Liefeld told io9. “And does that worry me? No. Not at all. What I did was I answered a question honestly. And what I learned this week is just lie. Just tell people everything is lollipop and unicorns and rainbows and you’ll be better off in your life because people want to be lied to. Just because some guy goes, ‘Yeah, We’re still moving along’ that’s code for ‘There’s nothing to see here.’”
Obviously, Liefeld is annoyed at how his words have been framed but he does stand by the content of those words; he does think the blame for the lack of Deadpool news should be squarely focused on Marvel, however, he does not feel that’s any kind of bombshell.
The fact is, after the release of Avengers: Endgame, Marvel had a multi-year plan in place. A plan that was in place before Disney bought Fox, which resulted in Deadpool, as well as the other X-Men, becoming available to the company. A plan that got increasingly more complicated in recent years with the addition of the streaming service Disney+ to its creative output. With all that in mind, Liefeld believes his statement that Marvel is to blame for the lack of another Deadpool film is logical rather than venomous.
“Regardless of whatever inside perspective I may have, what I do know is that until a movie is put on a schedule, it’s not taken seriously,” he said. “And what people don’t like is that I have assessed the schedule for the next, give or take, five years and I don’t see Deadpool on it. [So] I don’t see that it can arrive earlier than that.”
If Deadpool was a priority, there are plenty of things Marvel could do to show it. For example, at San Diego Comic-Con last year, Marvel brought Mahershala Ali out to announce him as the new Blade. That movie doesn’t have a release date or creative team officially announced yet but it was obviously important enough for Marvel to make an announcement about. Compare that to the X-Men or Deadpool where the public has heard nothing. Liefeld believes inactions like that only bolster his case. Though Deadpool already had momentum with two films, it’s important to remember that Disney acquired the rights to Blade back in 2013 versus Deadpool in 2019.
io9 reached out to Marvel Studios to ask about the status of a potential Deadpool 3 and was not given a comment.
To Liefeld, the lack of movement isn’t even the biggest problem. It’s that he feels the studio is letting the audience’s excitement for the character dissipate. “My whole thing is you get access to this franchise, go give it priority,” he said. “And that’s not me acting pretentious. That’s me going ‘This is a pretty valuable commodity.’ And I also have three teenagers and I see how fast their interests come and go and how everything is vying for their attention at all times.”
The co-creator also freely admits he has a financial stake in Deadpool. Liefeld made deals when he first created the character that gives him royalties anytime the character is used anywhere: merchandise, video games, and yes, movies. “When Deadpool exploded onto Fortnite, was that really good for my kids’ private education? Yes. Yes, it was,” he said. “I have Deadpool revenue streams that have existed since 1991...I already get paid. If you make this movie [or not], I’m getting a fat check.”
The truth is, the entertainment world is changing on an hourly basis, especially recently due to the covid-19 pandemic. We just got word this week that Fox’s leftover X-Men film The New Mutants got yet another release date from its new owners. Hypothetically, the ever-changing climate in the industry could be a precursor to there being some movement on Deadpool.
“I believe plans that were in play are already shifting in regards to where the content is going to be and where the content is going to land in the future,” Liefeld said, talking about Marvel’s movies as well as its Disney+ shows. “My Marvel buddy, three weeks ago, said ‘Rob, when it comes to the X-Men and Marvel, there [is] kind of an unspoken expectation or understanding that they are behind a break this glass in case of emergency.’ And that’s how I view every conversation I’ve had with creatives.”
That sounds like, even though there’s no plan now, there could be a plan tomorrow. Regardless, Marvel movies take years to get whipped into shape before they are ready for release. “My take on it is it’s not a huge priority. I wouldn’t look for it any time soon,” Liefeld said. “And if it was greenlit tomorrow, it’s not coming out until I’m a lot older.”
When Deadpool 3 does happen though, and Liefeld thinks eventually it will, there is only one way he believes it should happen. “My opinion is Ryan [Reynolds] should be steering the ship and just completely handed the reins,” Liefeld said, pointing out the actor has become so involved, he even got writing credit on Deadpool 2. “Even to the point of plugging characters in...Give him three characters he can integrate and let him integrate them. If people ask what I want to see, that’s where it begins. Just please don’t micromanage the guy. Just give him free rein.”
Ultimately, Liefeld realized that talking to io9 about this would likely pour fuel on a fire that just started to flame out. But he couldn’t stop thinking about the way his words were being interpreted.
“This is what I think about when I am filling up a page with pictures,” he said. “I start at the top left and I go all the way down to the bottom right. And at the end of that, I’ve filled it with pictures. But while you’re looking at that empty board, you think all day long...I wanted to do this because at least it gives me another chance to clarify what I believe was harmless speak, to begin with. People want to paint me as angry [but] I’m one of the happiest guys anybody knows. I am a happy guy. I am so grateful. I am thankful.”
He’ll just be more thankful if a third Deadpool movie comes out sooner than later.
Correction: After publication, we added more context to the “I’m getting a fat check” line because Liefeld’s implication is that he gets paid whether a movie is made or not.
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