Among the box office records that Deadpool smashed (the biggest February debut; the highest R-rated opening weekend), the most fascinating stat to dig into is this one: Tim Miller is the first-time filmmaker with the highest-grossing opening weekend of all time. Deadpool tripled the previous record holders: Joseph Kosinski for TRON: Legacy and J.J. Abrams for Mission: Impossible III.
Miller, 48, is an industry veteran in digital effects, particularly at the VFX company that he co-founded, Blur Studios. We’ve already talked about his Oscar-nominated animated short, his almost-collaboration with the Russo brothers on Captain America: Civil War, his stunning, slithery opening credits sequence to David Fincher’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and the advice Fincher offered him. Plus, his tendency to get very emotional — for real — when talking about Ryan Reynolds.
But now several clips are popping up on the web, illustrating Miller’s obvious creative acumen in the years before Fox finally signaled a green light on the Deadpool movie.
Including among them are three videos that Joe Quesada, former editor-in-chief of Marvel, uploaded to his Tumblr page after Deadpool‘s box office success. Quesada congratulated the movie’s creative team before explaining that nine years ago, just as the studio was trying to launch an Iron Man movie, they learned that the character suffered from low brand recognition. Kids, especially, looked at the hulk of red and gold metal and thought he was a robot, not a person.
And so Marvel commissioned a team (headed up by Blur Studios and Tim Miller) to create three so-called “Iron Man Advertorials,” digitally animated shorts designed to educate young fans and build up Iron Man so audiences viewed him on par with the Hulk and Spider-Man. You could argue, based on the success of the first Iron Man film with Robert Downey Jr., that they succeeded beyond Marvel’s wildest dreams.
In the three clips, you can clearly see how Miller’s test footage both informed his own style (the editing and “camera” fluidity of the action was echoed in Deadpool‘s early freeway sequence). Writes Quesada on Tumblr, “What always makes me smile when I watch [the shorts] are the little bits and pieces that would later come to influence certain moments in our films. See if you can spot them. What’s also fun to see is how even back then Tim’s wonderful and mad cap directorial skill was clearly evident.”
In addition, via Blur Studio’s Vimeo page, you can watch a six-minute short that Miller directed for a DC Universe online videogame that debuted to raves at San Diego Comic Con in 2010. The clip consists of an epic battle in a war zone and features dark, gritty versions of Superman, Wonder Woman, Brainiac, and Lex Luthor. It helped Miller score his first meetings with Twentieth Century Fox, which ultimately led to conversations about Deadpool, Miller recently told Time Out Dubai. “‘You know, I think you should really be directing your own film,'” Miller remembered the Fox exec saying. “‘You’re a first-timer, so I can’t get you on anything big, but we have this other movie… Deadpool. Are you interested?”
Take a look at Miller’s DC work that opened the doors for him at Marvel.