With a $130 million opening weekend and scores of glowing reviews in tow – including our own – Deadpool is irrefutably the talk of the town, with mooted reports of a sequel and even X-Force ensemble already emerging.
Breaking the fourth wall with reckless abandon, the R-rated show-stopper included jokes that ranged from Ryan Reynolds himself to Fox’s meagre budget – “That’s an awful big house, it’s almost as if the studio could only afford two X-Men.” – Tim Miller’s film has quickly proved to be something of an instant classic.
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It’s led to nine kinds of industry experts weighing in on the meteoric success – best February opening of all time – with Deadline citing a non-Fox suit who stated that “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.”
In light of these claims, Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn took to Facebook to post an impassioned response regarding not only Deadpool‘s success, but how Hollywood executives quickly jump on the bandwagon when any given formula is proven successful.
Even if you have only a passing interest in the politics of filmmaking, Gunn’s comprehensive response is a fascinating read:
“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.”
That’s a quote from Deadline Hollywood, attributing it to a Hollywood “suit.” 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 FUCK 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.
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 fuck was Ant-Man??!
Come on, Deadline.
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.
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.
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.