Spoilers for Deadpool 2 follow. Major spoilers!
The Deadpool 2 director spoke to ComicBook.com in an exclusive interview, where he addressed the topic which has caused a bit of controversy since the film's release. Ironically enough, the relentless crude jokes delivered by the film's titular hero weren't what left fans uneasy, but instead the fact that one of its female characters was featured less than expected.
"I understand where they're coming from," Leitch said. "As a filmmaker, I believe I have a record of strong female characters and proactive female characters." After all, he did direct the Charlize Theron-lead action thriller Atomic Blonde, and worked on the unforgettable V for Vendetta film from 2005. "But with Deadpool it's different," Leitch went on. "It's Deadpool's movie, and you need to take everything away from him to humanize him. He can be grating and he can be sort of offensive and he can be all these things, but you need an emotional hook that grounds the movie that we can go on this journey with this character and experience Deadpool."
Despite Vanessa catching a bullet early on in the film, Baccarin and her character still featured throughout Deadpool 2 and serve as a strong driver of the narrative.
"And quite frankly, she doesn't leave the movie," Leitch said. "She is a huge point of contact for him and learning his lesson in the world and learning that one of act of kindness can change history. And I think without her being the vehicle that he learns that from, I don't know, it wouldn't have been the same film and so we wouldn't have had that emotional context. Even the scene at the end where they visit each other in the afterlife, hugely emotional, great performances by both of them. So, again, I don't think she left the movie."
Deadpool 2's writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick expressed a similar sentiment about Vanessa's role in the film.
"We didn't shoot Vanessa's material until the very last week on the movie or the last two weeks, maybe, and our lead camera operator, Luke Hosch came up to me right before we were about to shoot all that stuff and he said, 'You know, I love this from start to finish, I think it's so funny, but I'm worried that the movie won't be emotional enough,'" Reese told ComicBook.com. "And I said, 'Well, do me a favor.' I was like, 'Come back to me in two weeks, when we're done shooting, after we've shot all Vanessa's stuff and see if you feel the same way.' And at the end of two weeks he came back to me and was like, 'You nailed it, that was the spine it was missing in my mind.' So I do think that Vanessa was a little bit of the emotional underpinning of the movie and helped inform Julian's, the depth of Deadpool's feelings for Firefist and for the back and forth he has with Cable because they both lost a significant other."
Deadpool 2 is now playing in theaters.