What Studios Should Learn From Deadpool (And What They Won’t)
Now that the opening weekend is behind us we can call Deadpool a huge success. I wasn’t sure if the audience would go out in droves but I was hopeful that the movie would do well. Deadpool has not only done better than anyone expected but it has done better than a lot of superhero movies period. It’s currently ranked as number seven of the biggest opening weekends ever behind such mega blockbusters as both of the Avengers movies, Spider-Man 3, and The Dark Knight. It’s also the biggest opening for an R rated movie behind The Matrix: Reloaded (yes The Matrix movies were R as people seem to often forget). These are record breaking numbers so it stands to reason that the industry is looking at things differently now. However, I’m not entirely sure Fox and other studios are going to learn the right lesson from Deadpool’s success.
There are plenty of reasons that Deadpool works. The main one, however, is that the movie is true to the source material. Whenever people asked me what I thought of the movie I would turn around and ask them what they expected from a Deadpool movie. The movie was bright, colorful, and juvenile in a way that the character is when he is portrayed at his best. While Disney/Marvel seems fairly keen to keep their characters close to their source material the rest of the studios don’t have the best track record. I won’t deny the influence of the first X-Men movie or the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy but those movies are a couple name changes away from wholly unrecognizable from their source material.
There was also a lot of love put into Deadpool and that kind of energy is evident throughout the entire project. This is a movie that has been in production hell since 2009 and wouldn’t be here at all if someone hadn’t leaked the test footage. Of the many things that didn’t work about The Amazing Spider-Man series the main one seemed to be a lack of love for the character. Those movies were made so Sony wouldn’t lose the rights while Deadpool was made because Ryan Reynolds, Tim Miller, and various others wanted to tell this story and tell it right. That kind of enthusiasm for a project is rare but it’s even more rare that it can be felt down to the marrow of a project. The love everyone involved in this has can be felt even in something as simple as the fantastic marketing campaign.
The R rating is something that has come up a lot (mostly in the sense that parents are still taking their kids to see this). There are already rumors that Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine solo movie will be rated R. I feel like studios are going to take the wrong idea from the R rating doing well and just turn everything up to eleven because they can. Deadpool was R because it had to be to tell the story properly. There are plenty of comic book characters out there that don’t need to be rated R and I have a feeling studios are going to throw the R rating at things because they can.
It’s going to be the movie equivalent of the turn to the grim and gritty trap that comics in the 90’s fell into. In the mid 90’s the adult fans of comic books “came out” to the world. That nearly destroyed an industry as publishers realized pandering to adult fans was more profitable than children. This meant that characters that once had a sense of humor were suddenly being turned into what people thought was a more “adult” version which in this case just meant more blood and boobs. This has the potential to the same thing to the comic book genre in movies as well. Are there some things that should be rated R? Absolutely. Does everything need to be rated R? Absolutely not.
The Hollywood studio system doesn’t know how to do things by halves. I wouldn’t be surprised if, over the next six months, we see a lot of R rated comic book movies coming out. I worry that the people green lighting these projects are going to miss the things that really made Deadpool work and it wasn’t just the R rating. I’m not the first person to talk about this and I know I won’t be the last, we still need to find out how much staying power Deadpool has over the coming weeks, but if news that several R rated comic book movies drops in the coming months then I wouldn’t be surprised.