Creative Differences: What Are They?

By  · Published on October 25th, 2016

Are They Bigger Than A Breadbox?

Proving permanently that life comes at you fast and that its twists and turns are truly stranger than fiction, I find myself this week writing about Deadpool. It was announced Friday that director Tim Miller would not be returning for the sequel, after “creative differences” with star/producer Ryan Reynolds. Since “creative differences” is the vaguest phrase in the history of human language, it was clear that an actual explanation would likely be forthcoming at some later date. So far two have been proffered: one scenario had Miller preferring a “more stylized” (speaking of vague phrases) approach, with Reynolds favoring raunchy jokey-jokes, whereas another had director and star irreconcilable over casting preferences for the role of Cable. Whatever the true reason, the biggest surprise here is not the thing itself, but that I was actually concerned for the fate of Deadpool 2.

Not being familiar with the character, prior to the first film’s release in February this year all I had to go on were the trailers, which had some CGI and some (really) bad jokes, so not being under any professional obligation to give a shit about it I proceeded to not do so. And then life, with its game-changing reversals, intervened and I watched the movie on TV, quite enjoying the entire experience. The jokes were still mostly pretty stupid, but in a broader context not reliant on packing as much as possible into a 90-second clip, the CGI was quite pleasing to behold, wielded not in the mistaken belief that it can substitute for reality, but in recognition and celebration of its inherent unreality. Deadpool was at its best in exactly those moments, reveling in its unreality, breaking the fourth wall, essentially sticking its head out of the car on the freeway with its tongue and tail wagging. It is no great masterpiece of the cinema, nor did it need to be to justify itself, but it was executed with considerably more panache than most contemporary comic book movies, and had just the right sense of its own scale, both within the context of the movie itself and in the cinematic landscape at large.

3 Wishes For the Deadpool Sequel

Despite a considerable amount of the movie’s entertainment value coming from the non-quip aspects of the writing (it’s been awhile since I was 14, a lot of the quips were simply Not For Me), a creatively cast ensemble of actors, and Reynolds’ (finally profitable) star power leading the way, I would argue that what makes Deadpool one of the best among its contemporaries in its genre, is Tim Miller’s direction and/or deft hand with the computer. I carry no unswerving fealty toward the staged and captured photographic image; if computer generated motion looks cool, it looks cool, being more or less real doesn’t faze me. (Benefits of The Matrix having come out during my peak collegiate weed-smoking years, as is the constant that pondering realness immediately invokes Laurence Fishburne’s mantric “What is real?”) And so the action in Deadpool, R-rated gore levels and all, being inventively animated means considerably more to me than whether it looks fake, and I’ve rarely, and only on extremely exalted occasion, seen CGI used as fluidly and well as Tim Miller did.

Here’s the thing: I don’t know exactly what went on between Miller and Reynolds, whether one was flexing excessively and the other took umbrage, or what. The sequel will make mountains of money regardless of who directs it, who writes it, or if it’s any good. (They do sort of need Reynolds back, but even then there are workarounds.) And it’s not like the art of cinema is taking a staggering blow the likes of which will spin it off its axis into the frozen void. But. Still. The sequel’s bound to lose something not having this Tim Miller cat back in the director’s chair. There’s a sense in which the blockbuster industrial complex defies auteurism, and renders directors replaceable. There’s another, though, where even if its tangibility is limited, that weirdness and singularity is a universal gain.

Clearly there isn’t only one filmmaker in the world who knows how to use CGI. (This is out of left field, but you all need to check out the films of the Indian director S.S. Rajamouli. They’re some good stuff. You are most assuredly welcome.) But there’s only one who uses it in the specific way Tim Miller uses it in Deadpool. The sequel will miss him.

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Columnist, Film School Rejects. Host, Minor Bowes podcast. Ce n’est pas grave, y’all