Usually the sequel machine runs on three different speeds: clockwork, moderate and prolonged development. If you’re going to propose a follow-up to a surprise hit like The Hitman’s Bodyguard, you usually want to be running in that quickest setting so you can strike while the iron is hot. But director Patrick Hughes ran a bit faster when it came to developing The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, as he was already pulling together things he wanted to see while he was in the editing bay for the Ryan Reynolds/Samuel L. Jackson sleeper success.

When it came time to sit down and speak to Patrick Hughes during the press day for The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, I was excited to dig into just what sort of bar that Hughes and his team had set for this second shot of adventure. Even in the speediest of circumstances, it feels like movies such as these don’t always come together as quickly as you’d want them to. But inspiration ran strong with Patrick Hughes in the editing room on The Hitman’s Bodyguard, which lead to this tale of early sequel development:

I already had the sequel in my back pocket. I had a four page outline that I’d sort of cooked up inadvertently. Because when I was editing the first film, I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen to Michael Bryce. You sit with these characters for months … usually in editing, it’s like eight months. So it’s longer than the shoot, longer than production. And to me, it felt like he’d be in therapy, 100%. Anyone that’s had to survive a road trip with Darius Kincaid should be in therapy.

An idea as simple as Ryan Reynolds’ Michael Bryce needing therapy, and a special list of tortures that Patrick Hughes wanted to visit upon him, was all that The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard needed to start up. Though that was only the beginning, as any good sequel not only needs a first step into the future of its characters, it also needs a proper framing to progress those same figures in another round of growth and ammo-pumping action. Which is why Salma Hayek’s Sonia Kincaid became a prominent figure in The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard.

In The Hitman’s Bodyguard, Sofia was a comedic supporting presence who helped push along the road trip that Michael Bryce and her husband, Samuel L. Jackson’s Darius Kincaid, happened to be on. Another round of such mayhem couldn’t just be a repeat with those two characters, and with Salma Hayek’s comedy skills always sharpened for fun, The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard found an easy way to branch out into the future. Here again is Patrick Hughes, explaining how Hayek’s Sonia was important to the sequel’s development:

They had a really interesting dynamic, the disapproving father figure that was Sam Jackson and Ryan Reynolds, who’s essentially a man child that’s got validation issues. That was sort of like an interesting family dynamic, and then for the sequel I was just like, ‘We’ve got to put Salma in to lay down the conflict. How do we make Ryan suffer more? It’s one thing to survive a road trip with Samuel L. Jackson. What if we add Salma Hayek into the fray?’ And now there’s a mother figure. So we have a mother figure, a father figure, and a man child; and to me that’s comedy gold.

All of the strategy that went into the development of The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard seems to have worked. With the sequel opening in a first place finish its first weekend, even a relatively calmer box office market in a post-pandemic market couldn’t stop this fresh hell from taking over. It may be too early to announce any plans for another day in the life of the Kincaid family, but that hasn’t stopped Patrick Hughes from hatching yet another idea that he’s naturally cagey about sharing.

We’ll just have to wait on details to the future of Michael Bryce for now. But that shouldn’t keep you from seeing The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, as it’s currently in theaters and has plenty of Ryan Reynolds tortures for you to see. That is, if you’re into that sort of thing.

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