“Deadpool” is owning the box office and changing the way we look at comic book films.
By Dede Ogbueze, Staff Writer
Marvel’s most untamed big-screen character yet is a vengeful thrill-seeker whose NSFW charisma keeps audiences coming back for more.
For four consecutive weeks, “Deadpool” stood atop the box office, raking in an outstanding $311 million. The “Merc with a Mouth” pulled in $16.4 million in week five and has now tallied about $328 million in sales. The film is on pace to surpass R-rated box-office records set by “American Sniper” ($350 million) and “The Passion of The Christ” ($370 million). “Deadpool” has surpassed both in the record books for fastest to $300 million, reaching the benchmark in only 23 days. It took “The Passion of the Christ” 29 days and “American Sniper” 53 days, respectively.
The Hollywood triumph that is “Deadpool” has started conversation whether R-rated will be the new status quo for comic-book films. Assuming so might take credit away from the fascinating phenomenon that is the film’s success.
Wade Wilson, played by Ryan Reynolds, is a vengeful, yet lovable anti-hero known as Deadpool, whose bawdy sense of humor compensates for his misfortunes. The film features him kicking ass, cracking jokes and taking viewers for a surprisingly emotional rollercoaster for which he is the conductor and the narrator.
Even though “Deadpool” is a box-office hit, it is by no means a knock-out film, nor is it the best comic-book film to have been released in recent memory. It doesn’t propel viewers to the heroic heights of Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” and it certainly doesn’t possess the dark, bruising performances of Heath Ledger and Christian Bale in “The Dark Knight.” “Deadpool” hit the jackpot because it knows its audience and gives them exactly what they paid for.
The franchise has a dedicated fanbase that has been impatiently waiting for its release. Reynolds has stated in several interviews that he has been trying to get the film made for 11 years. What has kept its momentum alive is the pressure that fans have been placing on Twentieth Century Fox to get the film made.
“It’s really kind of a fairy-tale story,” said Reynolds in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. “That [test footage] was just meant to establish how the world would operate. It was really meant for internal use only. It was never meant to be shown to the public in any way. But the fan reaction so overwhelmed Fox that they really saw that there was a huge appetite for “Deadpool” – and that’s what gave us the green light. I think that’s exclusively the reason the movie got made.”
The marketing team behind the film played a vital role, setting the pace for its historic run. Different variations of promotional trailers show Wilson interacting with the audience in what is known as breaking the fourth wall. This established a familiar relationship with Marvel fans who come to expect this from the lead character, as well as new fans who are intrigued by this type of cinematic idiosyncrasy.
The off-beat humor that the movie revels in caters to an audience of millennials who were raised on raunchy humor and slapstick comedy. In one scene, Deadpool gleefully informs the audience of his plans to masturbate with his still-regenerating hand that is approximately the size of a 5-year-olds.
Unfortunately, the film’s formula for success isn’t an instant blueprint for every comic-book movie in the next five years. The character is unique in that he has established his own identity within the Marvel universe and has consistently upheld it over the course of his lifespan. His personality is bound to the character’s storyline, making it a seamless transition to the big-screen. In other words, fans know exactly what to expect from this film. The same can’t be said for other comics such as “Batman,” “Spiderman,” or “Hulk.”
Will the success of “Deadpool” prompt other big-budget superhero franchises to take the risk of being R-rated? Yes and no.
There is far more benefit to making a film marketable to families when the franchise is already a household name. However, “Deadpool” is a new franchise and perhaps going down the line, Marvel may introduce new characters to the big screen with R-rated releases. And because of its box-office success, be ready for a sequel.