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Ryan Reynolds' Back-To-Back Comic Book Movie Flops Almost Ruined His Career

If he hadn't pivoted to indie darlings, Ryan Reynolds' back-to-back action flops could have ruined his career. A man of many hats, Reynolds always flowed in and out of genres before he found his shtick as a self-aware, comedic action man. The Canadian actor's early hits included the maligned "Amityville Horror" and the romantic comedy "Definitely, Maybe." By 2011, Reynolds was ready to go all in on the world of action, cementing himself as a major player in the genre with "Green Lantern." The DC flick emerged as a dud, barely grossing $220 million worldwide, making "Green Lantern" one of the year's biggest bombs at the box office. Reynolds continued down the action rabbit hole in 2013, teaming up with Jeff Bridges for the supernatural action-comedy "R.I.P.D." which also failed to make an impression with audiences, grossing just $79 million worldwide.

Both "Green Lantern" and "R.I.P.D." were major flops for Reynolds, almost emboldening the notion that the actor couldn't handle the burden of headlining a franchise. His previous franchise efforts, like "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" and "Blade: Trinity" relegated him to supporting roles. But with "Green Lantern" and "R.I.P.D.," Reynolds was put front and center as a leading man for what were meant to be viable theatrical offerings. Both films flopping aren't exactly Reynolds' fault either, as they were critical misfires and widely considered among the worst films from the 2010s.

Luckily, Reynolds was able to bounce back, thanks in part to quality indie roles and a lot of luck.

Green Lantern and R.I.P.D. were massive flops

"Green Lantern" is a notable sore spot for Ryan Reynolds, who was set to usher in a new era for DC storytelling. Reports say that Hal Jordan's cinematic debut lost Warner Bros. around $75 million, making it one of the biggest disasters in Reynolds' career and destroying all hopes for a sequel. Reynolds believes the film flopped because the production focused too much on expensive special effects instead of character development. The picture was also released after films like "Iron Man" and "The Dark Knight" took the superhero genre in a new, bolder direction. Ultimately, "Green Lantern" felt like a relic from the past that didn't understand what viewers wanted. Naturally, critics tore the film apart — it has a 25% score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Reynolds later released "R.I.P.D" to similarly disappointing results. A buddy cop picture about deceased detectives who hunt supernatural forces, "R.I.P.D." was poised to be competent summer fare for audiences in 2013. Based on the comic book of the same name, the film was expected to be the start of a prosperous franchise, but it reportedly lost the studio over $50 million. Reynolds' comedy was released during an extremely crowded weekend, facing competition from "The Conjuring" and "Despicable Me 2" making the "Men in Black"-like film the least interesting picture for audiences. Word of mouth also wasn't there as critics ripped it to shreds. Despite poor reviews, Reynolds' supernatural flop defied the odds and dominated Netflix in 2023.

After his almost career-ending financial misfires, Reynolds took a much-needed break from the genre, before reemerging with his biggest moneymaker.

Ryan Reynolds saved his career thanks to Deadpool

After his major, record-breaking box office bombs, Ryan Reynolds' career as a leading man was on thin ice. Both films proved that Reynolds wasn't a big enough draw yet for audiences, and it didn't help that they were critical failures. The actor smartly pivoted to independent, smaller-budget fare, allowing himself to flex his acting chops and gain goodwill from audiences. Between 2013 and 2016, Reynolds released a few underrated movies you need to watch to see just how capable of an actor he is. He debuted the creepy (but hilarious) serial killer flick "The Voices" in 2014 and the gambling picture "Mississippi Grind" in 2015. Both films fared extremely poorly at the box office but emerged as critical juggernauts.

Reynolds' relationship with smaller, more focused productions ended with the 2016 release of "Deadpool," which propelled the actor to the stratosphere. It's still Reynolds' biggest hit at the time of publication, grossing over $781 million worldwide. It was also his first major success as a leading man in an action film. Since then, Reynolds has leaned heavily into his Deadpool persona, releasing a sequel, and starring in calculated productions like "Free Guy," which take advantage of his comedic chops.

While speaking with Variety in 2017, Reynolds acknowledged his strings of flops and how his streak ended thanks to the Marvel character. "I've navigated those choppy waters," the actor said. "When 'Deadpool' came along it was a great relief — it was a role I felt we could get right."