So, since the last time I talked about Deadpool, I was proven very wrong. Deadpool was a hit with critics and audiences, receiving a lot of praise. There are people who did not care for it, but the movie broke records nobody expected.
I am happy to be wrong here. I am glad it has succeeded. And I think there is room for both family friendly super hero films and ‘R-Rated’ super-hero films.
On Twitter a week or so back, I got involved briefly in a discussion that was inspired by a tweet that stated that “Nothing Good Can Come From Deadpool’s Success.” I took the opposite side, arguing I do not think it means all super-hero films are suddenly going to go hard ‘R’.
Then in a couple days time, we saw announcements of the next Wolverine film will be ‘R’ and there will be an ‘R’ rated “super cut” of Superman vs Batman. And I do get the concern, though I am not ready to admit defeat. The Wolverine is not surprising, and they have skirted the violence of the character for over a decade.
Going back to X-2 we were being given pitches that we were about to see the Wolverine the last film did not deliver. We got a more violent cut of the second Wolverine film. At best, the success of Deadpool let them know that the ‘R’ is not the kiss of death.
In regards to Superman and Batman…Warner Brothers has always seen dark and gritty as the key to success. When Superman Returns did not succeed quite as big as the WB had hoped? They cited that it was not Dark Enough. When the Dark Knight succeeded they felt vindicated and even suggested that this is how they would fix Superman. When Green Lantern failed Warner Brothers blamed the film for not being dark enough.
Yet Man of Steel was dark and grim. And it seems the DC Universe was already on this path, well before Deadpool.
What is sad, is there is a lesson to be learned from Deadpool’s success. Deadpool was not a dark and grim take on super-heroes. It was a fun and bizarre ride. It had dark humor, and lot of it. But it was funny and intentionally so. The creators (from the writers to the director to the stars on) got the character. They knew and were faithful to their source.
Deadpool proves taking a big risk is worth doing. Films that know who they are? They are what studios should take a chance on. Truth their creatives, don’t micro manage. Letting the creators be free often produces positive results. Micro-Managing everything gives us studio vision and less interesting films.
I’m not so sure that Deadpool was as huge a risk as everyone made it out to be. The movie does not do anything especially daring besides explicit sex scenes, strong language, and heavy violence. These three things may be new to the superhero genre but it’s not new to anything else people are watching these days. Not to mention for a movie that was intentionally going for that rating, it doesn’t seem so celebratory. All that effort put toward reaching an R rating (solely for sex, language, and violence: three things which aren’t inherently adult) could’ve been put towards a unique plot.
Because even the plot itself is formulaic and therefore oddly safe, but I’m assuming the constant joking was meant to overshadow that. A real risk would’ve been to toss the redundant origin story out and actually punch the genre its juggler. Deadpool did a good job of making itself seem more edgy than what it really was.
The origin story is standard, though they did not tone down the character to be more successful with a wider audience.
There is plenty of risk, as movies with the sex and violence (and humor based in the violence) rarely are that kind of hit. They may surprise people, but they do not break record upon record with wide positive word of mouth. Instead, they often become films with a devoted fanbase, but not massive boxoffice success.
The films approach and respect for it’s source was certainly a risk, and they applied a mentality largely missing in comic book movies. The slapstick violence mentality has been done to an extent (the Mask and Tank Girl had a lot of winking to the camera humor)…but only the Mask had any lasting success.
So, I think it is unfair to suggest the film took no risk, it easily could have gotten the response of Tank Girl.
I believe they did tone Deadpool down a bit. From how I remember Deadpool, he was practically insane. The Deadpool in the movie may say he is but it doesn’t show often enough if at all. He is not depicted as a crazy sociopath in the film. This Deadpool seems far more “cool” than anything. They focused way more on his funny side than his crazy and insane side because portraying the latter in its full extent would in fact be risky.
In regards to risk, I didn’t say there was no risk but that the risk was not as huge as everyone made it out to be. The marketing was far too aggressive for it to be a failure. Not to mention Deadpool already has an established fanbase and super hero movies are far more popular and taken far more seriously now than ever. That alone makes it incomparable to the Mask and Tank Girl, both of which came out in the 90’s when the superhero genre wasn’t taken seriously at all. Those movies took real risks. They didn’t have universes pre-established by 3 to 5 box-office breaking movies. Anyone of age who watches Marvel films in general would go watch this movie. It’s practically guaranteed.
As for the sex and the violence it always depends on the portrayal. The sex in Deadpool may be explicit but it’s not serious. If it displayed hardcore, visceral sex scenes with a serious tone, it would only then be risky to have that kind of sex. It also helps that the sexual content was isolated to the beginning of the film and not sprinkled throughout. The violence also worked in favor of the film for it’s similar comedic nature and much like the sexual content, the bulk of the worst violence was in the beginning.
This is why I said everyone made it SEEM like the film was taking more risks when really it only seems that way at face value.