Ryan Reynolds Explains Why 'Green Lantern' Failed Where 'Deadpool' Succeeded

The list of actors who've played superheroes is long, and getting longer seemingly every day. But the subset of actors who've played multiple superheroes is still pretty small. One who belongs to that exclusive club is Ryan Reynolds, who played Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, then Green Lantern in Green Lantern, and then Deadpool again in Deadpool.

That last film was the one where he finally struck gold. Deadpool fared better than Green Lantern by every metric, earning far stronger reviews and grossing way more at the box office. So what went right? Why did Deadpool soar where Green Lantern had stumbled? Reynolds has some thoughts on that front. 

Reynolds reflected on the difference between Deadpool and Green Lantern in a chat with Entertainment Weekly:

Well it's simple: Deadpool always knew what it was. With Green Lantern, I don't think anyone ever figured out exactly what it was. That isn't to say the hundreds of men and women didn't work their fingers to the bone to make it as good as possible. It also fell victim to the process in Hollywood which is like poster first, release date second, script last. At the time, it was a huge opportunity for me so I was excited to try and take part in it.

"Deadpool always knew what it was" feels like a pretty good summary of what worked so well about that movie. In an increasingly crowded field of superhero movies, Deadpool stood out with its R-rated violence, its crude humor, and its winking self-awareness. It might not have been for everyone, but that's what was so refreshing about it. Deadpool felt like a blockbuster that came from a single distinct vision, rather than one that had been rushed through production by a committee.

Some of that surely stemmed Deadpool being a long-simmering passion project for Reynolds and his team. He'd been trying to get the Deadpool movie of his dreams off the ground for years, since even before he switched over to Green Lantern. As a matter of fact, Reynolds revealed, he made one more attempt in between X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Green Lantern:

I did however write a letter to Fox right before I had to decide whether or not I was gonna do Green Lantern. I asked one last time sort of like the groom standing at the alter, 'Will you please be my wife?' and they said they couldn't pull the trigger on Deadpool. For too many reasons too boring to illustrate, it just didn't work.

In the end, of course, it all worked out for Reynolds. Green Lantern's failure meant it never got a sequel, which meant Reynolds was free to make the Deadpool movie he'd always wanted to make – Green Lantern jokes and all.