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From Wade to Wade: Ranking the biggest genre movies of Ryan Reynolds

From Wade Wilson all the way up to Wade Wilson again, it's time to give the R.I.P.D. treatment to Ryan Reynolds' resume. 

By Brian Silliman
Ryan Reynolds in Deadpool (2016), Green Lantern (2011), Pokémon Detective Pikachu (2019), Free Guy (2021).

Ryan Reynolds is always going to give you a good time. Whether it’s action, romantic comedy, or a weird mix of both, he’s lethal with kicks to both the heart and the privates. Looking at the crazier side of the genre spectrum, his resume is impressive. These movies are even weirder than the big spectacles of 6 Underground, The Hitman’s Bodyguard, Red Notice, and more.

R.I.P.D. is a good example. If you haven't seen it, well, it's currently streaming on Peacock! What a lovely opportunity. What do the letters in the title stand for? "Rest In Peace Department." That’s right, Reynolds plays a man who is a part of the afterlife enforcement department. He hunts down the dead. He himself is dead. It is a deado good time all around.

While revisiting his nutty antics in this movie, we couldn’t help continuing to examine the softer side of Sears, as well as the big genre side of the Reynolds' filmography. It provided a fine excuse to rank up eight of Reynolds’ most notable genre movies. Is this serious business? No. Is anything on the line here for Reynolds himself? No. Are we doing it anyway? Yes. Is X-Men Origins last? Absolutely.

Let’s rank ‘em up!

RELATED: Ryan Reynolds vows Hugh Jackman's return in 'Deadpool 3' will still protect the 'legacy of Logan'

Ryan Reynolds in X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE (2009)

8. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)

This is the first entry in the famous X-Men Origins series, a spin-off of the X-Men franchise that took a look at how all of our favorite mutants ended up where we first found them. It’s a long and prosperous series of movies that really answered some questions! Not really, because this is the only X-movie to have a title like this. We have fun watching it, and Liev Schreiber is particularly good as Victor “Sabretooth” Creed. As for Reynolds, he makes his first appearance here as “Wade Wilson.”

We put that name in quotes because he’s not really that character at all. The legendary "merc with a mouth" from Marvel Comics, the man who would be Deadpool, is barely in this. He swings his swords around, mouths off enough so the other characters get pissed, and then he vanishes until the end of the movie. He’s then deployed as a living weapon, and his mouth is surgically shut.

“Deadpool” can’t talk. He can grow katanas out of his arms though, so there’s that? The decision to turn the Deadpool character into whatever this thing is, was notorious in 2009, and it still is. Both Deadpool movies make fun of it. Reynolds is a perfect fit for Wade Wilson, but this was not Wade Wilson. The genuine article would come later.

Ryan Reynolds in Blade: Trinity (2004)

7. Blade: Trinity (2004)

How do you follow up the masterful work that Guillermo del Toro did with Blade II? You don’t. You make this thing instead, a movie that had plentiful production issues but has a crackerjack cast.

Reynolds appears as Hannibal King, and he’s doing his best with what he’s given. He’s gets multiple assists from a cast full of ringers, including Natasha Lyonne, Patton Oswalt, John Michael Higgins, Eric Bogosian, Parker Posey, and James Remar. Dominic Purcell (DC’s Legends of Tomorrow) plays a version of Dracula, and WWE star Triple H plays a character named Jarko.

It’s lunacy, and it is not as much fun as Blade or Blade II. Reynolds remains a fun presence. He showed up to work.

Ryan Reynolds in Green Lantern (2011)

6. Green Lantern (2011)

Deadpool makes fun of this movie, too. Deadpool 2 features Wilson going back in time to murder Reynolds as he holds the script for this movie. That’s a bit extreme, as things worked out just fine for Reynolds after this DC flop. He met Blake Lively working on this and married her, so... where’s the problem?

Reynolds as Hal Jordan is an interesting choice, but the tone of this movie is higgledy piggledy. There are certain delights to watching it now, as opposed to watching it in 2011. One of them is Jordan’s relationship with Carol (Lively), and witnessing the dawn of a real romance.

It’s not the cosmic kick in the pants that DC fans wanted from a Green Lantern movie, but there are some fantastic scenes on display. Jordan’s training is fun, with Michael Clarke Duncan’s turn as Kilowog being a highlight. His chemistry with Reynolds is great. Reynolds has good chemistry with everyone here. It’s not his fault that the suit is CGI, and even that isn't as bad as the repetitive jokes about it would claim. 

This was a giant let-down in 2011, but it’s had a renaissance in recent years. If you are yearning for Reynolds, then you could do worse. If you are yearning for the Green Lantern epic that is the dream of every DC fan, then you’ll have to wait.

Ryan Reynolds in R.I.P.D. (2013)

5. R.I.P.D. (2013)

This one has to be seen to be believed. Thankfully, it is streaming on Peacock right now! It’s the whole reason that we’re writing this article! Celebrate life by giving it a watch.

What’s the story? Reynolds plays a cop who is betrayed and killed. He goes to some form of afterlife and is recruited by Mary-Louise Parker into joining the Rest in Peace Department. He joins up with a cowboy named Roicephus (Jeff Bridges) to hunt down “deados.” That’s the term for souls who have escaped judgement. Sound good! Did we have you at Mary-Louise Parker? We certainly had you by "Roicephus." 

Instead of Internal Affairs, these afterlife cops have to deal with “Eternal Affairs.” They play by their own rules! The banter between Reynolds and Bridges makes it all work, and random moments where Reynolds appears to look like James Hong help the acid trip feel. It is absolutely a spin on Men in Black, but there are some wild swings within.

Reynolds, as always, showed up.

Ryan Reynolds in Free Guy (2021)

4. Free Guy (2021)

Reynolds takes on the role of an NPC in an even more violent version of Grand Theft Auto. Sometimes it is close to Ready Player One, other times it is closer to The Truman Show. Some scenes make us think of Mythic Quest. Reynolds grounds it all with an everyman charm, and we root for him as he discovers the truth of his reality. By the time he whips out a Captain America shield, we' re full on cheering for him.

The Reynolds chemistry test is once again on full display, as he is often paired with Lil Rel Howery to great effect. His scenes with the ever-brilliant Jodie Comer shine the brightest, however. They are the heart of the movie. This could have gone wrong and been a forgettable bit of derivative bunk, but the end result turned out to be anything but.

Most of that, for us, is thanks to Reynolds, Comer, and Howery. They show up.

Ryan Reynolds in Deadpool (2016)

3. Deadpool (2016)

He’s gonna touch himself tonight! This was the real deal, yes sir, off to the bank. Here was the true Wade Wilson in all of his R-rated glory, breaking jaws and the fourth wall. He talked to us, he mocked everyone, and he rampaged with reckless abandon. Obviously a Deadpool movie lives or dies with who plays the title role. Reynolds was born for this, and the result was (and is) glorious.

He’s not all snark and slice, either. Reynolds doesn’t hold back from showing the tragic side of Wade, and his scenes with Morena Baccarin definitely punch us in the throat. He has a truly delightful rapport with Leslie Uggams as Blind Al. Our favorite pairing of them all is Wade and ourselves, because Reynolds seduces us into feeling like we’re a part of the movie.

The action is insane, the jokes are hilarious, and when the tone wants to shift into being serious, it does so with ease. None of it would work without Reynolds, who pushed for this movie to happen for a very long time. That it exists at all is something of a miracle.

Ryan Reynolds in Pokémon Detective Pikachu (2019)

2. Pokémon: Detective Pikachu (2019)

This was a shock, because not all us over here give a baker’s fig about Pokemon. Some of us didn’t think that we’d care about this movie at all, but then we saw it. It was a gosh-darned delight, yes it was!

Why is Pikachu a detective now? Why is he solving crimes? Why does he talk like Ryan Reynolds? Who cares, this thing is fun for days. Reynolds did the voice as well as facial capture for the most beloved of all the Pokemon, and the result is, as usual, full of charm.

Is it bonkers to rank this above Deadpool? Probably, but at the time, we expected to love Deadpool. We didn’t expect to enjoy this thing nearly as much as we did, and still do. It made us consider getting into Pokemon at large. It taught us things. Unfortunately (for some of us) Reynolds isn’t usually involved in the franchise. In this version, though, Reynolds and a brilliant team of digital artists made a character that leapt off of the screen and into our hearts.

Reynolds is a small yellow-furred creature wearing a Sherlock hat, and he can shoot lightning out of his tail. Are you not entertained?

Ryan Reynolds in Deadpool 2 (2018)

1. Deadpool 2 (2018)

In our opinion, the sequel topped the original. Reynolds returned for a second round as Wade Wilson in 2018, and everything got bigger. A throwaway joke with Uggams from the first movie became a throwaway sight gag here. He opens the movie trying to kill himself. Morena Baccarin dies, but also comes back? We don’t know how seriously we should take the final scenes.

Bigger action and another dump truck of jokes aren’t the reasons why we love this movie so much. It all has to do with who is brought in for Reynolds to play off of, and as always, some remarkable feats of chemistry take place.

Zazie Beetz is a fantastic addition as Domino. Julian Dennison is brilliant as Russell. Rob Delaney plays a regular guy named Peter. Reynolds pairs wonderfully with all of them, especially Delaney. The real magic is, of course, the biggest new gun that the movie brings to the table. The Cable table. James Brolin hits the scene as Cable, and the Cable/Deadpool pairing is the stuff of dreams. Brolin is no nonsense, Reynolds is all nonsense. We’d watch these two go at it for years on end, no breaks required.

When it comes to Ryan Reynolds in high concept genre movies, it doesn’t get better than this.

R.I.P.D. is streaming on Peacock right now. Have you had your break today? Go check it out.