The Merc with a Mouth is back with a vengeance in "Deadpool 2" this weekend, with "John Wick" and "Atomic Blonde" director David Leitch taking the reigns from Tim Miller.
Helming the superhero sequel was a full circle moment for Leitch, who worked as an action coordinator on 2009's "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," Marvel's first, failed attempt to bring the assassin to the big screen with Ryan Reynolds.
"It's been quite the run, Dopinder," Leitch told TooFab when reflecting on the evolution of both his career and the character. "It's been fun coming up in the stunt world. I have a real appreciation from being below the line, so they say, for over 20 years. But it is fun to come full circle on something like that, where everyone felt like it needed a shot at redemption and Ryan sort of delivers that shot of redemption for us."
"I wanted to really help the character evolve and not only expand the universe with all these other characters, but expand him and the complexity of who Deadpool is," he said of his hopes for the sequel. "The writers did an incredible job laying the groundwork of giving him another existential crisis that we could dive into and see different colors of Deadpool's not only vulnerability but also badassery."
With more badassery comes a helluva lot more stunt and fight training, Leitch's expertise. While Ryan was already used to the grind after the first film, there was a bit of a learning curve for franchise newcomers Josh Brolin (who plays Cable) and "Atlanta" star Zazie Beetz, who plays lady luck herself, Domino.
"Josh and Zazie probably had it hardest," Leitch said of training. "Josh, he had to not only physically transform, he had to learn a lot of fight scenes, but he's done fights in the past and he's worked with a lot of my stunt team in the past. Maybe the biggest learning curve was Zazie, in terms of the action and she did an incredible job. A good month, 6 weeks of martial arts training with the team."
Though Leitch is known for delivering hard hitting fights and amazing action, he said he appreciated how working on "Deadpool 2" gave him a chance to flex his funny bone as well.
"I'm such a huge fan of comedy and it is sort of like spreading your wings as a director and getting to do new things and flex new muscles," he explained. "I was really blessed to be offered the opportunity, because a lot of times people at this point in their career are already pigeonholed. 'Oh David, he did John Wick, Atomic Blonde, let's give him another revenge movie or another genre movie.' Deadpool's genre, but it's a very special property that allows me to do so many different things. There's irreverent ballsy comedy and then there's the action, which is sort of my thing, so it was great to be able to do a little bit more."
The movie holds no punches when it comes to its jokes either, taking aim at everyone from Jared Kushner to the entire DC and Marvel cinematic universes. The title character is known and beloved for his irreverent and NSFW brand of humor, but Leitch said there were a few moments where they had to reign him back in.
"I'll just say there were a couple little self censors. Every time you make a movie like this -- and I don't make these all the time -- but when you make a movie like this you have to make sure you're being true to what the movie means," the director explained. "There is a moment of diminishing returns, so it's like, the movie will speak to you and you keep pushing the boundaries, pushing the boundaries and you're like, 'Too far? Too far.' And you come back."
He added that they had only "a couple of those moments," with the "creative core" all deciding what made the final cut.
In addition to directing the entire movie, Leitch also got behind the camera to shoot a music video with Celine Dion for the film's soundtrack. The video for "Ashes" was filmed at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, where Dion has her residency, and featured a dancing Deadpool.
"There was never any talk of Ryan doing the dancing, we couldn't afford the insurance," Leitch joked. "He literally would have broken his hip with the heels." The fancy footwork was done by professional dancer Yanis Marshall in the video, which Leitch added was "really fun to shoot."
We ended our conversation with the director by asking who -- of the three badass characters he's directed -- would win in a fight: Lorraine in "Atomic Blonde," John Wick or Deadpool. It wasn't an easy choice.
"Well, you do know that Deadpool can't die, so he does have a leg up on all of them," he replied with a laugh. "I will say Lorraine's will is indomitable, as you know from the stairwell fight, and John Wick, he's Baba Yaga, so I don't know. It's hard to tell!"