In 2013, while 20th Century Fox was still on the fence about proceeding with an R-rated Deadpool movie helmed by Tim Miller — a visual effects guru who hadn't directed a feature film yet — the studio welcomed pitches from other filmmakers.
From November to December of that year, Kelton Cram — a professional conceptual artist that has worked on such films as Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and X-Men: First Class — worked on concept art for a Deadpool pitch, coming from the mind of Jeff Wadlow, the writer and director of Kick-Ass 2.
Like in Miller's Deadpool, Wadlow wanted to show a progression/evolution of Wade Wilson's superhero costume. Setting his pitch apart from Miller's, Wadlow was planning to have the Merc with a Mouth go up against The Marauders, a team of super-villains. In the comics, The Marauders act on Mister Sinister's orders; however, it isn't known at this time if Mister Sinister would've appeared in Wadlow's film.
What direction were you given with the Deadpool designs?
Kelton Cram: We wanted to try a completely new direction with the suit. More of an origin suit — a self-made, makeshift suit made from motorcycle gear. As with most origin stories, this suit would go through a transition, eventually becoming something closer to the one he wears in the comics (much like the suit Blur created for Ryan Reynolds).
Deadpool is traditionally drawn with white eyes, which is something director Tim Miller utilized in his film. Was that left out of your designs because superhero films at that time typically avoided that feature?
Kelton Cram: I think Jeff Wadlow was going for a more gritty/realistic approach. The white eyes are a bit campy, though I have to admit Fox and Marvel seemed to pull it off with Deadpool and Black Panther, respectively.
The non-Deadpool design is of Random (a.k.a. Marshall Evan Stone III), who in the pitch was part of The Marauders (though in the comics, he's actually a member of The Acolytes), and seeing as though The Marauders are associated with Mister Sinister in the comics, does that mean he would've been the main villain in Wadlow's film?
Kelton Cram: I'm not really sure if he had a relation to the Sinister character. The basic idea was a merc with the ability to grow a weapon from his arm. And of course they wanted him to be huge! (Which is why I went with Stone Cold [Steve Austin] for the reference.)
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Deadpool was directed by Tim Miller, based on a screenplay by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick ("Zombieland"). The cast featured Ryan Reynolds ("Green Lantern") as Wade Wilson/Deadpool, Morena Baccarin ("Gotham") as Vanessa, Ed Skrein ("Game of Thrones") as Francis Freeman/Ajax, T. J. Miller ("Silicon Valley") as Weasel, Gina Carano ("Fast & Furious 6") as Angel Dust, Leslie Uggams ("Roots") as Blind Al, Brianna Hildebrand ("First Girl I Loved") as Negasonic Teenage Warhead, and Stefan Kapičić ("Numb3rs") as the voice of Peter Rasputin/Colossus.