By: Curtis M. Parvin 5/7/16
You may have heard that Deadpool has become the “highest grossing R-rated film at the worldwide box office” according to IMDb.com. How did this happen? How did a restricted movie crush a PG-13 comic book movie market? How did a throwaway parody character generate so much buzz in such a short amount of time?
Since Christopher Nolan reached the apex PG-13 comic book filmmaking with his Dark Knight Trilogy (2005-2012), things have been on a downward slope for Warner Bros/DC Entertainment. By trying to keep Nolan’s edge, Warner Bros/DC sucked the joy out of hopeful characters like Superman in an effort to make him more relatable. Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice have split fans and critics. Fans claim the hopeful essence of “Supes” has been lost and critics are poking holes in the storytelling itself.
Disney/Marvel has been savvier, succeeding monetarily where DC has fallen short. Their studio marketing strategy is better than DC’s at tailoring characters to content. Instead of cramming their darker characters into a constrained PG-13 format, anti-heroes like The Punisher (Jon Bernthal) have been given free reign on a Mature-rated Daredevil Netflix series. Marvel realizes a great section of their audience are older, more sophisticated comic book fans, and they treat them as such.
Marvel is also better at keeping things fresh in the theater. They don’t want to lose adult moviegoers who may be growing bored with the limitations of a PG-13 fantasy world. Enter Fox’s cash cow called Deadpool. The ‘Merc with a Mouth’ literally steps out of the frame to comment on the action happening within it.
Ryan Reynolds, who plays Wade Wilson/Deadpool, articulates my sentiment thusly:
“I think Deadpool‘s coming along at the right time, because it’s speaking to that generation that has seen all these comic-book films and enjoyed them all; it’s speaking to them as though the guy in that red suit is one of them. It’s like watching a DVD commentary by someone who’s got some pop-culture savvy and is kind of funny and a little obnoxious and is saying the things that you wouldn’t say.” (imdb.com)
The truth is, we have so much information crammed down our throats on a daily basis that we feel a subconscious urge to categorize everything. Furthermore, when media falls below a certain star rating, we lose interest or get distracted. In order to not feel as if our precious time was wasted, we rip on the source of the boredom.
Overly predictable movies often take us out of the story and we instead begin to focus on inane things. Rather than holding our breath about saving a damsel in distress – an all-too familiar trope – we might think: “What would happen if Deadpool punched a behemoth mutant in his metallic junk?” Deadpool is one step ahead of the game because he is in on the joke. He flaps his gums for us before we can even open our critical little mouths.
There is a perfect example in the film where Deadpool, inverted and sticking his head out of a rolling SUV in slow motion, says: “Shit! Did I leave the stove on?” I can only imagine how many audience members asked themselves that during boring rapidly cut CGI action sequences from other action blockbusters.
Deadpool works because this antihero is speaking for anyone who has ever predicted the resolution of a film 20 minutes in. In the film’s climax, Colossus, Negasonic Teenage Warhead (NTWH), and our titular foul-mouth badass are about to battle their foes when NTWH takes out her smartphone. Before she attacks, Deadpool says: “No, finish your Tweet. Hashtag it.” The fate of Deadpool’s girlfriend Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) hangs in the balance, and here’s this teenager engrossed in her own little world. Even characters in comic book movies have grown tired of the damsel cliché.
Wade Wilson and his alter ego, Deadpool are bang-on – something jaded audiences need right now. For comic book fanboys/girls the ‘Merc with a Mouth’ playfully jabs at the flawed stories they already love. Both action movie enthusiasts and fans of dark comedy are certain to get their money’s worth. There are enough glock shots and cock shots to please everyone.
Sorry about the language, Colossus.