Okay. Let me start off by saying this. I am not a Ryan Reynolds fanboy. I do not believe him to be the best actor in the universe, nor do I believe him to even be in the top ten percent of well-known actors in the universe.
I've got to be candid about this. I don't care for haters. I never have and I never will. What I especially don't like is when I see people hate on Ryan Reynolds for things that were out of his hands. So here is my case, on a bad movie by bad movie basis, for why we shouldn't give up on Reynolds yet.
Green Lantern (2011)
Green Lantern. The Emerald Knight. The Glowing Green Guardian of Good. A name held in highest regard by comic book fans for generations. And then 2011 came. The year of the great cataclysm. Ryan Reynolds was cast as our beloved Hal Jordan. But as if that wasn't bad enough, they cast Blake Lively (HAWWWWWT!!!!!!) as Carol Ferris. Then they screwed Parallax all to hell. Then they made Sinestro a good guy the whole film until a post-credits scene that was supposed to set up a sequel that has never yet been made and is not currently in production. This film was literally so bad it sent young people who had grown up on the [Justice League](movie:401267) animations, now high school graduates and college students, out of the theater in tears because of how horrible it was. And we were forced to endure the thought of a second film coming out in the next two years.
But was any of that Ryan Reynolds' fault? No. Because at the end of the day, the actor is paid to act out what the script says, not to create a hero. Ryan Reynolds cannot be held responsible for horrible scripting on the part of Greg Berlanti, nor poor oversight on the part of Martin Campbell. Hal Jordan was a terrible character not because of anything Ryan Reynolds did, but because of what the people around him who were responsible for the larger picture did. The script was haphazard at best, thrown together to please fans, rather than create an overall enjoyable film.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
Literally the single worst superhero film of all time, despite several spot-on casting choices (see Taylor Kitsch as Gambit and Liev Schreiber as Sabertooth). The film was great for a while. But then things started to slide downhill, quick. Aside from the many basic plot flaws, such as the introduction of Scott Summers for no apparent reason other than to give Sabertooth an actual action scene, there was a lot of fan service. Throwaway lines were rampant, and the overall cheesy quality of the dialogue left us wondering if the scriptwriter was from the 1950's, writing lines straight out of the original Marvel comic books. Continuity issues were equally rampant, even going so far as to have Charles Xavier walking after having been shot in the back by Erik Lensherr years prior. The final nail in the coffin, however, was their complete and utter misrepresentation of the Merc With A Mouth, [Deadpool](movie:38663). Wade Wilson didn't appear to have any mutant abilities whatsoever prior to the experiments conducted on him by Stryker. After that, he had an adamantium skeleton, and several powers which the true Deadpool never possessed in the comics, such as Scott Summers' kinetic eye beams.
Once again, I would like to bring to your attention that this, however horrible it may have been, was not the fault of Ryan Reynolds. He had no hand in the scripting, and the character he was given was poorly written, with no resemblance to the true Deadpool at all. This one was all on Dave Benioff. He was given some of the greatest characters in the Wolverine lexicon to work with (Wolverine, Sabertooth, Deadpool, Maverick, Bolt, Blob, Gambit, Wraith) and he screwed it over monumentally while eating a triple-decker large deep dish meat lovers pizza. Yes. That is a thing. I checked. It's delicious.
The Good Ryan Reynolds Films: R.I.P.D. (2013)
This one was one of my favorite comic book movies ever. I loved it all. Ryan Reynolds' character was on point and well-written. Jeff Bridges stole the show as Roycephus Pulsipher, Nick Walker's partner and mentor. Mary-Louise Parker rocked Mildred Proctor, and the plot was so intense you couldn't help but finish the movie. Kevin Bacon was a perfect traitorous villain, and Stephanie Szostak was a fantastic grieving wife. I have absolutely nothing bad to say about this movie whatsoever, other than the fact that at times, the Old Western nature of Roy was a bit overplayed, such as his absolutely obsessive fondness for his hat.
This was a film where Ryan Reynolds made himself known and made people feel for his character. All supernatural cop details aside, this was a film about one man's struggle to move past a tragedy and find peace. Nick Walker was murdered by his own partner, and as a dirty cop, he had to earn his way into heaven. His wife had to move past his death. He had to move past his former life and step into the role he had been given as an RIPD officer. The film addressed a serious issue: the necessity of the ability to move past tragedies in life, and the destructive nature of unwillingness to do so. The film was organic, and action-packed. The script was hilarious at times, and still managed to keep a serious tone about it. Characters were well-developed and well-explained. An absolutely fantastic movie.
Ryan Reynolds may not be the greatest actor the world has ever known, but he's certainly not the worst. There are far better actors, sure, but there are even more that are less talented and less committed than him, and we have let our opinions of a few of his roles color our views of his talent and commitment. Whether we agree with his casting in certain roles, or whether we think he'd be better served to stay out of them, we have done him a great disservice by allowing our view of his abilities to become tainted by pessimism. Rather than pigeonholing him as a failure due to a few notable failures that were not his fault, we should take him as he is: a great actor whose goal is to make money and to give audiences a good time.