February 18, 2016

Why Hollywood Has Learned Nothing From Deadpool

Hollywood is a business that’s uniquely unpredictable. That’s why when a film like Deadpool has financial and critical success and becomes a pop culture phenomenon, people in the industry are quick to put a label on why that particular film hit a nerve with audiences (you can read our review here). The answer, however, does not lie within one concrete reason, but rather a variety of circumstances unique to that individual film. But more on that later.

In case you are unaware, Deadpool had massive success at the box office this weekend, demolishing records on the way to a domestic opening of $132 million. And those are just the domestic numbers ($300 Million worldwide). Surely the success of Deadpool at the box office must mean great news for the future of Hard-R comic book movies, right? Well, maybe not so much.

The last few days have been very confusing for Hollywood execs. On the Monday following the film’s release, Deadline published and article admitting as much. In said article, an unnamed studio executive–true to what we’ve come to expect–immediately tried to put a label on why the film was so successful. Why am I not suprised? Here’s what the article quoted the person as saying:

“The film has a self-deprecating tone that’s riotous. It’s never been done before. It’s poking fun at Marvel. That label takes itself so seriously, can you imagine them making fun of themselves in a movie? They’d rather stab themselves.”

Naturally, this seems like an assumption that most would make. Just as the aftermath from the release of The Dark Knight saw an influx of “darker & grittier” superhero adaptations (sometimes unnecessarily so), Deadpool will open the floodgates for more Hard-R superhero adaptations in the coming years. We get that the film is edgy, but I don’t think that’s the sole reason why the movie was successful. Guardians of the Galaxy writer/director James Gunn summed it up perfectly when he took to his Facebook page to share his thoughts on the very same article and quote:

I love Deadline and get a lot of my film business news from them. And I love Deadpool even more – the film is hilariously funny, has lots of heart, and is exactly what we need right now, taking true risks in spectacle film – but COME THE F*CK ON. That’s no reason to rewrite history. This quote has to have been said by the dumbest fucking Hollywood exec in the history of dumb fucking Hollywood execs.

But this is where things begin to get interesting:

Let’s ignore Guardians for a moment, a movie that survives from moment to moment building itself up and cutting itself down – God knows I’m biased about that one. But what do you think Favreau and Downey did in Iron Man? What the f*ck was Ant-Man??!

Come on, Deadline.

Takedown complete. But there’s more, as Gunn continues to diagnose this as a recurring issue. And he totally hits the nail on the head.

After every movie smashes records people here in Hollywood love to throw out the definitive reasons why the movie was a hit. I saw it happen with Guardians. It “wasn’t afraid to be fun” or it “was colorful and funny” etc etc etc. And next thing I know I hear of a hundred film projects being set up “like Guardians,” and I start seeing dozens of trailers exactly like the Guardians trailer with a big pop song and a bunch of quips. Ugh.

Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.


I have to agree that the reasoning here. There isn’t a definitive reason why Deadpool was a success, it’s simply that a number of ingredients were in the pot at the right time. Even though Gunn himself goes on to define reasons why Deadpool was a success (although valid reasons), I think that the point remains the same.

Deadpool wasn’t that. Deadpool was its own thing. THAT’S what people are reacting to. It’s original, it’s damn good, it was made with love by the filmmakers, and it wasn’t afraid to take risks.

For the theatrical experience to survive, spectacle films need to expand their definition of what they can be. They need to be unique and true voices of the filmmakers behind them. They can’t just be copying what came before them.

Gunn concluded by predicting that studios would ultimately do the same thing that they’ve always done.

So, over the next few months, if you pay attention to the trades, you’ll see Hollywood misunderstanding the lesson they should be learning with Deadpool. They’ll be green lighting films “like Deadpool” – but, by that, they won’t mean “good and original” but “a raunchy superhero film” or “it breaks the fourth wall.” They’ll treat you like you’re stupid, which is the one thing Deadpool didn’t do.

But hopefully in the midst of all this there will be a studio or two that will take the right lesson from this – like Fox did with Guardians by green-lighting Deadpool – and say – “Boy, maybe we can give them something they don’t already have.”

And that’s who is going to succeed.

Have a great day.

As Hollywood naturally would–not even two days after making his declaration–followed suit by tentatively announcing the next Wolverine would be rated-R and the potential spawn reboot would also do the same. That didn’t take long. Surely we will have an influx of these bandwagon announcements in the coming months, but the question remains: has Deadpool revitalized the comic book genre? I wouldn’t go as far to say so quite yet.

Don’t get me wrong, the success of Deadpool is great for the future of comic book movies. While Deadpool is certainly a step in the right direction, I feel that Suicide Squad will be the true deal-breaker for the future of comic book movies, as it has the potential to break the floodgates wide open for different and unique kinds of superhero stories. If Deadpool owes it’s success to movies that came before such as Guardians of the Galaxy, then Suicide Squad will owe it’s potential success to Deadpool. Of course, this is all conjecture, but one thing that Deadpool proves is that the superhero genre has plenty of punches left in it’s repertoire. Only time will truly tell.


What are your thoughts on the success of Deadpool? Are you happy to see more R-rated comic book movies? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

About the Author

Taylor Salan
Taylor Salan
Taylor Salan is a independent filmmaker who currently resides in the San Fernando Valley. Since childhood, Taylor Salan had a fascination with movies. Although he was an avid fan of film as a child, it wasn’t until his years as a young adult that his passion for the art of filmmaking truly came to fruition. A current student of the film production program at California State University Northridge, Taylor studies Cinematography but ultimately has plans to direct full time if afforded the opportunity. In his spare time, Taylor produces audio podcasts and blogs about film for ageofthenerd.com. He is also a longtime musician, playing drums for over 8 years.


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