The script for the first Deadpool film sat around for years gathering dust before it finally got the greenlight after the test footage leaked out. That test footage leaking was the best thing that could've happened because it caused the fans to rally together and demand that the movie get made. I'm sure that Fox is very happy with their decision to push it forward and into production. They didn't expect Deadpool to blow up the way it did. Some people just don't have vision or imagination.
During a recent interview with Variety, Deadpool creator Rob Liefeld revealed the name of the executive at Fox who kept the film grounded all those years. His name is Tom Rotham, and he's currently the Chairman of Sony Pictures. He was previously the chairman and chief executive officer of Fox Filmed Entertainment. This is what Liefeld said when asked who was preventing Deadpool from getting made:
"I’ll jump on the sword. I don’t really work in the movie business, so I’ve always been able to navigate and speak freely. The answer is two words: Tom Rothman. He is now the [chairman] of Sony. I wish him well. He’s a canny operator in the business. But when he gets it in his mind to dismiss something — nothing seemed to push him over the edge. I thought for sure [he would be on board] when he saw how good Deadpool looked and moved [in the test footage], but for whatever reason, we had an opponent to the film.”
Tom Rotham is also notoriously the guy behind X-Men: Origins Wolverine and how Deadpool ended up appearing in that movie. Thankfully, former Fox chief Jim Gianopulos ended up seeing the light and ultimately greenlit the Deadpool film. Liefeld went on to share what it was like for him when he found out the movie was getting made:
"I cried like a baby, and it wasn’t just for me. It was for Tim [Miller] and Ryan [Reynolds] and Rhett [Reese]. The script you saw in 2016 was written in 2010."
Now the Deadpool franchise is thriving and we are getting an X-Force film and I'm sure we'll see more Deadpool movies! The success that Deadpool and the other Marvel films are seeing right now is proof that the superhero genre is not going away anytime soon. But, there was a time when some studios thought that it wasn't going to last.
Liefeld went on to talk about a meeting he had with the president of Paramount Pictures, John Goodwyn, in the early 2000s and how Goodwyn thought the superhero film genre was on the verge of dying:
“I was sitting with the president of Paramount, John Goldwyn is his name. He had sought me out in the early 2000s. He liked ‘Youngblood.’ He whipped out a chart. I could not believe it. ‘Rob, we’ve done some internal examining of this superhero trend that’s going on right now.’ By that time you had one ‘Spider-Man’ movie and maybe two ‘X-Mens.’ And he said, ‘We believe this is a bell curve and we believe this bell curve is going to end, and we believe, by our estimates, we would be in the middle of making our movie, in the best case scenario, and the bell curve would be over, and we would be left holding the bag.’ That is such a rich memory for me because I remember going, ‘He is 100% wrong.'”
It's just crazy to me that these studio executives thought this way. Hell, there are still a lot of them that do which is why studios still don't take risks on original properties.