Let’s Not Learn the Wrong Lesson from Deadpool

This weekend Deadpool made giant chimichanga money.

deadpool-teaser-chimichanga

In fact, Deadpool is now not only the highest opening weekend grossing X-Men film in the franchise, but the highest of any Fox superhero film, and it even performed better this past weekend than Man of Steel did when it debuted.

I really need to stop talking about Man of Steel for a while.

This success can be attributed to many things but I want to lay special praise out for the marketing department. This movie has been sold better than any superhero movie I have seen. Los Angeles in particular is plastered with Mr. Pool but none of it has felt particularly grating.

For those of you who stayed through the credits, which should be everyone by now ( I actually refuse to associate with people who don’t wait for the credits tags now), you know a sequel is on the way. Now that Deadpool as proved itself profitable, Fox executives are going to be looking for ways to use it as a lesson to improve their other superhero movies. I just hope they learn the right ones.

First, to get a quick review out of the way, Deadpool is simply fine. It wasn’t any kind of genre breaker and the plot was very by the numbers. In fact, I probably would have thought much higher of the film if it were made back when the script was written six years ago. Since then, Marvel Phase Two arrived and made the best superhero movies the genre has ever seen. I have read that older script and it is largely identical to what we got. I did truly enjoy the movie though. The action was well choregraphed, I laughed at enough of the jokes, and anything I didn’t love was candy for the thirteen year olds behind me. R-rating be damned they found their way in, right behind me, and kicked my seat throughout.

And that’s the first lesson I want to argue against. No, we do not need more R-rated superhero movies. I will say it, Deadpool did not have to be R. Yes, it allowed it to stand out more in our superhero saturated media landscape, but the basic story could have been told just as well in PG-13. I have been hearing rumblings online from fanboys hoping all of the different superhero movies start going darker. My response is simple and I will only say it once:

FANBOYS ARE IDIOTS

Superheroes and their movies are still ostensibly for a younger audience. Hell, even Deadpool was for that younger audience as evident by the noisy kids sitting behind me at my screening. The R-rating is not what made Deadpool a better movie, it was what the creators got from having the R-rating.

A real lesson here is that cheaper can be better. A friend recently told me that Batman v Superman needs to make a billion dollars to be profitable.

What is wrong with me? It all keeps coming back to Superman!

Meanwhile Deadpool made back its production cost and then some over the weekend, mainly because it costs so much less than those movies. Instead of going for bombast, the movie found humor in its low stakes and made for a more emotional final confrontation than what we get most of the time when the planet is in danger. On top of that, Fox remained fairly hands off for this one. Because it was R-rated and an obscure character in a movie they only really greenlighted because some test footage was leaked, they didn’t really mess around with it. Director Tim Miller got to make the exact movie he wanted and audiences loved it.

Here’s a question. If you’re a producer in Fox and you see how well Deadpool did, would you want to be involved in Deadpool 2? The answer is yes, and I worry all of this new attention will have a detrimental effect on this burgeoning series. The lesson they should take away is to be more hands off. If Fox had been more hands off with last year’s Fant4stic, maybe it could have really been something special. Fox meddled the least with X-Men: First Class and it is probably the best of the entire franchise. Just, let the creators do their thing. Let the series live and die on them.

That’s not even the most important lesson here! The thing that makes Deadpool better is how much it embraces being a comic book property. It’s not grounded or gritty in any way, it bounces off the walls with joy. The movie feels more in line with the products of Marvel Studios, and it is better for it. Take those feelings all the way. Let the X-Men got to space and pick up Lockheed and fight the Brood or whatever. You know what Wolverine can stab in a PG-13 movie? ALIENS.

The X-Men have gone on some next level crazy adventures. Colossus has a sister who is indentured to the devil. They time travel all the damn time (and props to Days of Future Past for leading the way here). The island of genosis was founded as a haven for X-Men and then wiped off the planet in a mass genocide.

GO ALL THE WAY.

And then, when you are really good at putting these lessons into action, come back to Fantastic Four and do it right. I’m talking big man Galactus in a purple suit with a G on his belt. I’m talking the Super Skrull. I’m talking Ben Grimm dies and the team goes to heaven to get him back only to discover that God is Jack Kirby. The Fantastic Four could still be amazing, but they can’t be grounded. They need to be the opposite of grounded. What’s the word? Oh yeah, liberated.

-JP

PS, the new Wolverine will apparently be rated R. That’s fine, just don’t get lost in it.

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