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What We Learned From Deadpool: Make Good Movies Stupid

What We Learned From Deadpool: Make Good Movies Stupid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Something very interesting is happening at the box office, which could signal a sea change in the way movies are produced for public consumption. R-Rated action movies have long been the dreaded bastard step children of most movie studios’ release schedule. Often these movies are relegated to the January/February doldrums before the Oscars on the calendar, where they can do the least amount of damage to a studio’s reputation. Then the miracle happened. Deadpool, a comic book character seemingly no one cared about save for a marginalized but hardcore group of fans is blowing up the box office. But he’s not just doing it with the guns, ninja swords, and one-liners we expect of our action heroes. He’s doing it with a R-rating.

This is a significant turn of events that warrants analysis. At Canned Laser we have often lamented the loss of quality R-Rated entertainment, which was the staple of a well balanced entertainment diet in the 80’s and 90’s. Since then we constantly see mediocre bordering on offensive interpretations of famous characters and franchises like a steady stream of PG-13 Terminator movies and even the sloppy mess that spawned Deadpool that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

Deadpool has the potential to be foundation altering in terms of an industry that prefers it’s movies to be focus-grouped and PG-13 rated for maximum overseas appeal to attain box office success. Many fans of the genres of action movies and comic books have lamented for decades now, that their potentially favorite movies of all time have been watered down, middling messes of mediocrity with a select few attempting to transcend the malaise surrounding the genre critically, by taking an intellectual approach. You know, comic book movies for grown-ups.

Often this has meant pursuing a hyper-realistic aesthetic in place of actual substance. It was only a few years ago on the eve of Christopher Nolan’s finale to his Batman trilogy that The Dark Knight Rises was talked about as a possible Best Picture contender at the Oscars. Delusional as that sounds, there was a groundswell built around the idea that Comic Books had arrived, much to the chagrin of critics who lamented the fact they were witnessing a tidal wave at the box office they were powerless to stop. The new breed of action movies based on comics with huge install bases, instantly recognizable iconography, and the special effects to make it happen had to be taken seriously and not just because of the financial force these movies were, but as art. Then everyone saw The Dark Knight Rises and woke up to the bitter truth. We aren’t there yet.

There weren’t any Best Picture nominations in the future for The Avengers or Man of Steel either. But in the last few years there has not only been an increased presence of super hero comic-based movies, but an increase in scope as well. The studios accomplished this by doing the very thing fans have dreamed of for years, which is that sequels be planned thoughtfully in advance. The result is a style more akin to a television series as well as the source material found in the comic book format. This revelation will also have the effect of ensuring the quality as well as the long term viability of a franchise. In other words: just make good movies. After all Fox resurrected the seemingly dead X-Men franchise with two back to back successes (X-Men: First Class and Days of Future Past) and are poised for a third hit with X-Men: Apocalypse. Obviously the gold standard has been the groundwork Marvel set in place with the Avengers. DC is trying this year with Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. We’ll have to wait and see on it’s success but there is promise.

There have been failures, most notably the Fantastic Four reboot and to a lesser extent Sony’s Amazing Spider-Man franchise, which is about to be rebooted for a second time. But is box office success a real barometer for fans’ appreciation of these movies? I tend to think not in most cases. Monster franchises (ones that make money and may or may not have actual monsters in them) tend to be bullet proof when it comes to criticism. How could a movie making hundreds of millions of dollars be a failure? Indeed you may actually find yourself self in partial agreement with critics of the genre who lament the fact that no level of criticism can stop such atrocities as (insert any Transformers movie here).

So what makes Deadpool so interesting. For one: it’s really good. It incorporates everything that is Deadpool. It is now arguably the most faithful depiction of a comic book character ever. It compromised on almost nothing from the looks of it despite the fact it was in development hell for a decade. The character had been ruined in a previous disaster movie named X-Men Origins Wolverine, which is ridiculed within this new Deadpool movie at every opportunity. Ryan Reynolds, the principle actor in both the aborted version of Deadpool was also in a critical and fan bomb of a Green Lantern movie. How did Deadpool even get made let alone become a success? Here are some of the mind-boggling numbers:

· $135 million opening weekend box office.
· $125 million opening worldwide box office
· Biggest opening day for a R-Rated movie
· Biggest opening weekend for R-Rated movie

Then tell yourself Deadpool did this. The Merc-with-a-mouth, the creation of real-life problem child Rob Liefeld, a minor character in a dying comic book no one read called New Mutants before it was re-branded X-Force. If you saw this coming, you are probably gonna be called a liar. Deadpool is proof that all you need to do is make a good movie, a movie that is faithful to the character and you can have tremendous success even if it is rated R. It’s about the character. Certain characters deserve the type of content that can illicit an R rating. These movies don’t have to be for children all the time. Considering the expansive universe of comic books, there will be movies forever. Studios take note of Deadpool. These movies can be great. Now bring on Cable.

 

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