One of the more interesting questions following the massive success of Deadpool revolved around director Tim Miller, who went from never directing a movie, to directing the biggest opening in 20th Century Fox history. Ryan Reynolds is getting the credit he rightly deserves for starring and producing the film, but as one insider noted to The Hollywood Reporter, Miller “should get a lot, if not the most, credit” for Deadpool’s success. Deadpool was a risky project, perhaps even more riskier with a first-time director behind the camera. So what did Fox see in Miller to trust him with the vision of a filthy, violent, R-rated superhero movie? See for yourself.

The short film above, used to promote DC Universe Online, the MMO created by WB Games that stars the heroes and villains of DC Comics, and was directed by Miller as part of Blur Studios, the visual effects/production company run and co-founded by Miller in 1995. The six-minute clip premiered at Comic-Con in 2011 and fans weren’t the only ones who loved what they saw.

That same year, writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick submitted their script to Fox, who went out to a number of established directors, including Robert Rodriguez. When they couldn’t find the perfect match, they came back to Miller, whose DC Universe clip had left them impressed and who had previously been nominated for an Oscar for his animated short film Gopher Broke:

Miller was hired to direct, but before they moved forward, he shot the infamous test footage with Reynolds as proof of concept for Fox (the “Hi, Tom!” at the end was a deliberate shout out to Tom Rothman, the then head of Fox). With no one at Fox convinced of the viability of the project, it would take that footage leaking online and the collective pants-crapping of the internet to get the film made.

Many times in Hollywood, directors come and go off projects that are, like Deadpool was, stuck in development hell. It’s remarkable that over the intervening years, Miller stayed with the project, despite being loosely attached to a number of other feature film projects. He could’ve given up on Deadpool, but he never did. It’s through his dogged determinism that Deadpool actually got made and became the movie that superhero fans are loving right now. And it all traces back to this one clip. Don’t be surprised if you see Tim Miller moving on to bigger things once his work on Deadpool is done.