So, in watching Deadpool, I noticed the appearance of something I hadn’t seen in a long time and expected never to see in an X-Men film: the Lockheed SR-71 ‘Blackbird!’
Built by the Lockheed Corporation three decades before it merged with Martin Marietta to become Lockheed Martin, the Blackbird was introduced in 1964, having been developed by Lockheed’s Skunk Works division. In 1976, Captain Eldon W. Joersz and Major George T. Morgan set the Air Speed Record for manned, airbreathing jet aircraft using an SR-71; a record that subsists until to this day. Although the Blackbird was decommissioned in 1999, it was such a mainstay of power-aircraft for so long, that it remains a popular image in pop culture.
In 1975, when the X-Men were reintroduced by Chris Claremont, the team graduated to a new plane that was, essentially, an SR-71, modified with vertical take-off and landing capabilities and the ability to carry a larger number of passengers. To those who read X-Men comics in the late 1970s and the 1980s, the Blackbird plane was as much part of the X-Men continuity as the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters. It had been referred to as the SR-70, SR-73, and the SR-77.
In the 1990s, around the same time that Professor X decided that he wanted to float around in a hover chair that looked like a sad duck, the Blackbird plane was replaced by some invented vehicle that was supposed to look ‘cool’ and was shaped like an ‘X.’ I was not a fan of the 1990s.
Flash-forward more than two decades to the Deadpool film and, lo-and-behold, the SR-71 Blackbird comes VTOL’ing out from behind the X-Mansion! Excitedly, I pulled some strings to see if I could maybe have a chat with the X-Men’s Blackbird plane and managed to do just that in a DocPalindrome.com exclusive!
Jesse Edmond: It was great to finally see you on the big screen! I was audibly excited!
Blackbird: Were you the only one?
JE: Well… yeah, but…
BB: (laughs) Seriously, though, thanks. I had thought that everyone had forgotten all about me, then Tim Miller calls me, out of the blue, and asks if I want to be in Deadpool. I was like, ‘Hell, yeah! That’s awesome!’ I voiced some concerns with Tim that audiences wouldn’t get it, so it’s great to hear that at least one person did.
JE: Absolutely! Sr-71s are my favorite planes and seeing one on the giant screen, once more, was fantastic.
BB: Well, there was one in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen…
JE: As Jetfire. Yeah, don’t remind me.
BB: And I was also in X-Men: First Class, where I did my own stunts.
JE: Wait, what?!
BB: Yeah. I was in First Class, remember?
JE: Oh… yeah… damn it. I was thinking you haven’t been seen on the big screen in a superhero movie, yet. I feel dumb.
BB: (laughs) It’s fine, it’s probably been a while since you’ve seen it.
JE: Not really. I watch it all the time.
BB: Well, it’s fine. This was the first modern-era film I was in, which was kind of a cool Easter egg for fans.
JE: Deadpool was like, all Easter eggs! My first time through, that was all I saw. My wife and I went to see it later in the day, a second time, just so she could catch all the Easter eggs and I could catch the plot!
BB: That’s just what I said when Tim played if for me! I loved the setting for the end sequence!
JE: The Hellicarrier? That was…
BB: No, no! Not Hellicarrier! We’d never call it that. It was a Turbine-powered Weaponized Hovering Aircraft Carrier.
JE: Would that be a T.W.H.A.C.?
BB: Sure. Whatever. Definitely not a Hellicarrier.
JE: It was decommissioned.
JE: So, what was it like working with a moody teenager and a CGI character.
BB: It was great! Stefan [Kapičić] was on-set for the motion-capture and Brianna [Hildebrand] was so professional, for her first major motion picture. They were really great and I thought the three of us had great on-screen chemistry.
JE: Brianna Hildebrand just kind of came out of nowhere to play Negasonic Teenage Warhead.
BB: Shut your dirty, whore mouth! She was Jen on Annie Undocumented! It’s one of the most ground-breaking web series of all time!
JE: Okay, okay! Sorry! There are complaints about how Colossus was portrayed, do you have any thoughts on that?
BB: Well, let’s see, did he end up in a relationship with an underage girl? Did he end up murdering a supervillain and feeling bad about it? Did he end up stuck in his metal form? Did he end up turning into a supervillain? Did he end up dying to save the world from a manufactured virus that was supposed to kill mutants? I don’t feel like the character has ever been terribly consistent, but I thought [Rhett] Reese and [Paul] Wernick’s screenplay and Stefan’s portrayal offered a take on the character that was fresh. He was the Captain America of this picture, which the X-Universe really hasn’t had, yet.
JE: I couldn’t agree more!
BB: It’s almost like you’re writing both sides of this conversation.
JE: Moving on — What are your thoughts about the controversy regarding Deadpool’s R-rating?
BB: Oh, a hard-R, at that. Yeah, there’s been a lot of conversation about the value of a superhero movie that’s clearly of an older demographic, but it’s hardly the first superhero film to be R-rated. I can’t think of any other than Watchmen, but that was definitely a hard-R.
JE: There are a lot of others — Super, the Blade films, Punisher: Warzone, Kick-Ass…
BB: Right! So the issue is that this is a movie that, for whatever reason, parents want to take their kids to. But these amazing creators, these fantastic filmmakers, and all of us hard-working performers deserve the opportunity to make the art we want to make without having to pander to a public that just doesn’t understand.
JE: I can’t help but notice that no one is calling for the intense graphic violence to be toned down…
BB: Exactly! It’s like, ‘get rid of the sex and cussing and then I can take my 8-year-old.’ There’s something seriously sociopathic with that line of thinking… and I’m a warplane saying that!
JE: So you don’t think they should have done a PG-13 cut, like Spawn did?
BB: Fuck no! And fuck Spawn! That movie was a piece of crap with any rating! Artists should not feel the need to compromise their art for a public that is clearly missing priorities, anyways. It is the right of the creator to be creative in any way he or she chooses.
JE: I couldn’t agree more. What are your thoughts on the overall X-franchises.
BB: Well, the timeline being as wacky as it is, who knows. X-Men, X2, and X-Men: United clearly didn’t happen, thanks to [X-Men:] Days [of Future Past], and it’s pretty clear that [X-Men] Origins [: Wolverine] didn’t happen, thanks do Deadpool…
JE: Is it?
BB: Well… yeah! I mean, it’s clear that Wade Wilson has a remarkably different origin in the Deadpool film, that isn’t compatible with Origins.
JE: Well, on the other hand, we do see that the Origins Deadpool wakes up after having been decapitated. Who’s to say that he didn’t manage to pull himself together, heal up, and the powers he had gotten from the different mutants ended up fading away and his memory ended up screwed up from the experience? It would be the kind of thing that would leave a guy pretty screwed up.
BB: Whoa! That’s so cool! I would have never thought of that!
JE: Well, you are a plane…
JE: So what’s next for the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird?
BB: Well, I’m hoping for some more roles in X-films, but I’d like to show off my dramatic side, as well. You know what would be really great, though? A role in a Marvel Cinematic Universe film!
BB: Like, maybe in Captain Marvel. Carol Danvers needs a plane before she gets her powers, right? And Guardians of the Galaxy made the retro-80s thing really cool, maybe I could show up in the sequel…
JE: So, that’s all the time we have…
BB: Nonsense! I have all the time in the world! I could be in the next Captain America or in Planet Hulk or…
JE: Thanks for coming, Blackbird! Take care.
What a fun interview with a great guy, although, I would hardly call him ‘down-to-Earth.’