The Appeal of Ryan Reynolds

Edward Scott ‘26

Staff Writer

The movie star era is no more, and there are plenty of reasons why. We see stars across the pop culture landscape, from late night shows to social media platforms. It’s no longer special to see or hear from a Ben Affleck or a Viola Davis. We’ve heard their views many times before on our laptops, smart phones and streaming platforms. Plus, too many stars actively insult audiences and their way of life. Celebrities rail against Trump voters, for example, or smear those who believe abortion is murder. Some stars can’t get through a press junket without sharing divisive thoughts on race, religion or, most of all, politics. For example, George Clooney promoted Ticket to Paradise by suggesting to HBO Max host Chris Wallace that Republicans are a threat to democracy. 

    And then there’s Ryan Reynolds. The 46-year-old Deadpool star offers a different approach to stardom. He’s often engaging, not divisive, on social media. He entertains sick children with his hospital visits and is generous to a fault given his financial largesse. Reynolds, along with wife/actress Blake Lively, opened their considerable coffers for Water First Education & Training Inc., a group that provides clean water to struggling communities, and they similarly wrote a large check to help displaced Ukrainian refugees. His on- and off-screen image has remained remarkably consistent over time. He’s the wisecracking hero in the Deadpool films, and he tweaked that comic persona for the rare big-screen comedy that actually made us howl, 2021’s Free Guy. In fact, at a time when stars are desperate to escape their image – think Jim Carrey ditching comedy for more dramatic roles – Reynolds holds tight to his comic persona. Even his heroic character in The Adam Project saved some screen time for funny banter in the grand Ryan Reynolds tradition.

      The Canadian actor is liberal, no doubt. He cheered on the late progressive Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and shared the usual “sky is falling” fears over President Donald Trump. But what makes him so unique and so great is that he doesn’t shove those views in our faces. He shares them now and then, but he’s far more engaged in his dual duties as big time movie actor and PR guru. The latter of these two is his most intriguing element. While some stars promote their films with a modicum of success, Reynolds takes it to the next level. The latest, greatest example? He broke the news that Hugh Jackman was coming out of superhero retirement to play Wolverine once more. The video went viral for all the right reasons, snagging 15 million views on YouTube alone. Suddenly, movie fans couldn’t wait to see Reynolds and Jackmanmtogether again for Deadpool 3. That’s genius-level marketing, and few stars do it quite like Reynolds. It’s also hardly his first time embracing that approach. He frequently promotes his movies with a combination of humor and heart, getting his hands dirty with the good, clean marketing fun. He cut several Deadpool-themed shorts to promote the films and the franchise in general, including one cursing out Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels over the star’s possible appearance on the show. Another featured David Beckham, who Deadpool roasts in the 2016 smash, clashing with Reynolds, in character, to promote the first sequel.

    The actor’s “Maximum Effort” marketing company, which he co-founded, now produces these shorts, and his personal touch is all over the finished product. Yes, the company name comes from a quote uttered in the 2016 Deadpool feature. The actor explored his love of marketing with Forbes earlier this year and how his superhero franchise gave him a “crash course” on the subject. “Deadpool taught me that necessity is the mother of invention. Deadpool, the franchise, never had the kind of budgets and finances to work with what some of the larger comic book properties did. Two of the greatest adversaries to creativity is too much time and too much money. I learned the value of character over spectacle through Deadpool.”

     Do you need one more example of Reynolds’ unique star behavior? His 2016 Deadpool co-star T.J. Miller felt Reynolds didn’t like him while shooting their scenes together for the 2018 film. That brief confession, captured on “he Adam Carolla Show podcast, revealed an on-set disagreement that felt ugly to Miller. The revelation quickly made the rounds via social media. Soon enough, Reynolds caught wind of Miller’s complaint. Some stars might have ignored the issue. Others may have waged war on Miller, a comedian with a checkered off-screen past. Or, Reynolds could have played the victim or just trashed Miller. Instead, Reynolds apparently reached out to Miller directly, and the two settled any old differences between them. Reynolds didn’t make a public scene of the reconciliation. He handled it behind the scenes like a gentleman. Reynolds has little in common with many modern celebrities and thank goodness for that, which is why he is so beloved by people everywhere.

Photo courtesy of The Wall Street Journal

Categories: Opinions

Tagged as:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s