The script for Deadpool was a giddy guerilla war. Zombieland writers Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese are credited with the screenplay — as you might know from the film’s opening sequence, which refers to the pair as “The Real Heroes Here.” Says Reese, “Indeed, we are the real heroes here who wrote ‘The Real Heroes Here’ into the opening credits.” Wernick adds, laughing, “Perhaps ‘The Real Egomaniacs Here’ would’ve been better.”
But on the set while filming, jokes ricocheted from all over, with star Ryan Reynolds, director Tim Miller, and other cast and crew members throwing extra goofs and puns into almost every scene. And while overabundance of humor is not usually a problem in a comedy, some gags in the film had as many as 15 alternate punchlines and piles were left on the writers’ room floor. Here, Wernick and Reese walk us through the 10 best jokes that, like a cliché comic book villain, didn’t survive through the end. [Beware of spoilers beyond this point.]
1. “You’re going to leave me all alone here with less-angry Rosie O’Donnell?”
Reynolds’ Wade Wilson compares Angel Dust (former MMA fighter Gina Carano) to the two-time View cohost, but O’Donnell almost missed out on the dishonorable mention. Fifteen other names were considered, including Kevin Sorbo, Chyna, Jose Canseco, “Louise Ferrigno,” and Busta Rhymes.
“All night long during the shoot, we were running in and whispering names in Ryan’s ear,” Reese says. “My preferred choice was Criss Angel, Mindfreak.” It was nonstop fun for everyone — except the person on the brunt of the joke. “God Bless Gina Carano for being such a good sport,” says Reese. “Chyna, the professional wrestler, was one of the names, and Gina, with her background in MMA fighting, took that especially hard.”
2. “Alex Trebek” for $500, Alex.
Originally, in the Deadpool game that he’s playing at the bar, Wade had put money on Alex Trebek to die. “A lot of people don’t know this,” Wade said to Weasel, “but Alejandro’s favorite color is cocaine.”
Wernick explains: “Implying that Alex Trebek is a cocaine addict and he’s likely to die of an overdose — we though that was the most patently ridiculous rumor of all time. But it was so random that we worried if Trebek himself might find that unfunny. We also wanted to hit the story point that Weasel had bet on Deadpool. So discretion proved to be the better part of valor, and we dropped that one.”
3. Hockey Jockey
When Deadpool is pursuing a bad guy on an ice skating rink in — what else — a Zamboni, the film’s executive producer Aditya Sood pitched the perfect Schwarzenegger-esque line: “Ice to see you!” It made everyone laugh, but in a photo finish, director Tim Miller chose the “I’m going to kill you…in five minutes!” taunt instead.
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4. A close call on the wide stance
When Wade Wilson is first strapped to the table in Ajax’s workshop, Reynolds ad-libbed: “Don’t I know you guys from the airport bathroom in Minneapolis?” (If you don’t get the reference, just look up the phrase “wide stance.”) It didn’t quite work in the scene, but not because it was niche. “No joke was too obscure,” says Reese. “We got a Ronnie Milsap joke in there, and if the studio was comfortable with that, then we knew nothing was too arcane.”
5. Or are you just happy to see me?
After the mercenaries of Sister Margaret’s come to Weasel’s defense, pointing every gun they have at Angel Dust, T.J. Miller became irate at one guy across the room: “Dave, I didn’t see your gun!”
6. Trip off the tongue
Also cut out was a moment on the carrier flight deck, where one of Ajax’s felled goons reaches for Deadpool’s ankle. Deadpool looks down and stomps the goon’s face with his boot and quips, “Your plan to trip me to death…has failed.”
Says Reese, “Oftentimes the hero’s on a journey in that third act, but because Deadpool is so A.D.D. he makes these jokes even when the plot is more consequential. But there were moments in time when even we had to snap back in and focus on the story. This was one of those. At that exact moment, when Deadpool and Vanessa are seeing each other for the first time, we felt like not telling a joke.”
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7. Keeping off the Green
Out on the freeway, Colossus offers Deadpool the chance to be a superhero. And Reynolds chooses the opportunity to say a few words about his experience being approached to be a hero in Green Lantern: “It’s not the first time someone’s made that offer to me. And it sounds great. It’s only later you discover there’s no script, they’re trying to hit an unmakeable release date, and the super-suit’s going to look like it belongs in a Saturday morning cartoon.”
Wernick explains that it was crucial that the movie address Green Lantern, but the filmmakers were cautious of overcooking the joke. “It had to do with pacing, as well. Deadpool is this motormouth schizophrenic, but we were careful to spread the references around.” Yet for Reynolds, the sarcasm was curative. “Tim Miller has said that Ryan, when he made fun of Green Lantern, it was almost like therapy for him.”
“Being able to laugh at himself is one of Ryan’s greatest gifts,” says Reese. “And in that way, he really does inhabit the same space as the character. Ryan was born to play Deadpool but I think Deadpool was born to play Ryan.”
8. Bum or Rush
In Dopinder’s taxi, the cab driver asks Deadpool what Mama June tastes like. “Then we wrote a line in which Deadpool deadpans, ‘Like Rush Limbaugh’s couch cushions after Shark Week,’” says Reese. “We didn’t make any conscious decision to avoid the overtly political. But at the end of the day, Tim thought that ‘Like two hobos f–king in a shoe filled with piss’ was just funnier.”
9. Lights, camera, action figures
In a discarded scene, Wade picks up the action figure of Deadpool from the 2009 movie X-Men Origins: Wolverine (also played, though in sanitized PG-13 form, by Reynolds), with its mouth sewn shut. He examines it with a grimace, and then tosses it to the floor: “This?” he says. “This is the biggest piece of s–t in the history of Earth.”
Explains Reese, “It was in the scene where Wade says, ‘This is my most prized possession,’ and we realize he’s talking about the Wham! album cover. But our director felt that that was enough to make the moment funny. We didn’t need another joke about the Wolverine movie.”
10. Of avocados and older avocados
Among the many things T.J. Miller ad-libbed about Deadpool’s appearance: “It looks like Shrek took a s–t on your shoulders.”