Five Things We Learned From The Instant Success Of Deadpool


Deadpool has been a wild, outrageous success in its first weekend of release. Fans were hopeful that the movie would do the character justice, but even the most optimistic among them have to be blown away at its record-breaking start.

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Now the next step is to analyze what we can learn about Deadpool sprinting out of the gates like this. There’s no doubt Fox executives, once they get done turning somersaults or whatever movie industry folks do when a film outperforms all expectations, are already considering what to take from such a tremendous start.

Other movie studios with superhero properties should be studying hard as well (Warner Bros., anyone?). Here are five things that come to mind when pondering the instant success of the Regeneratin’ Degenerate.

Marketing Matters

Deadpool is already plenty popular among comic book fans and people who would self-identify as geeks. With the general public? Not as much.

Fox wisely decided that name recognition alone wouldn’t be enough to get the masses interested, so it embarked on a gonzo marketing campaign the likes of which we’ve never seen from a superhero movie. The red band trailer reveled in the film’s R rating, usually a no no for superheroes. Other TV spots variously presented Deadpool as a raucous comedy, a love story over an over-the-top action flick.

There were commercials during Golden Girls, and star Ryan Reynolds handed out chimichangas outside the Super Bowl. The hype for this movie was everywhere, and even if you found some parts of its publicity plan annoying, you can’t say you weren’t curious.

When it comes to superhero movies, it’s not enough to just put a product out there and let it stand for itself, especially when you aren’t dealing with a Batman or Spider-Man. Deadpool took its “this isn’t your ordinary superhero” message to the people, and it worked.

Superhero Movies Can Open in Any Month

For years, conventional wisdom was that blockbuster movies needed to open during the summer or the holiday season when moviegoers were most likely to hit the theaters in large numbers. Superhero movies have been steadily carving their own paradigm for a few years now — take Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which didn’t even follow the extended Hollywood definition of summer when it opened in early April — but Deadpool just completely upended that logic altogether.

By bringing in big bucks during February, a part of the release calendar where movies are usually sent to suffer, Deadpool should give every studio confidence that superhero fare can play in any season. In fact it might even be better to aim all but the biggest genre films for times other than May through July and December so they don’t have as much competition.

This is a crucial development because there are so many upcoming superhero films that they can’t help but be spread out. Warner Bros. should take heart, because as long as Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice delivers the goods, it should have no problem drawing crowds in March.

You Can Overcome a Previous Poor Superhero Role

One of the supposed drawbacks of casting Reynolds in the lead for Deadpool was that he had already done the superhero thing and flopped in Green Lantern. Surely, he was damaged goods when it came to this genre, right?

Nope. Put an actor in a better movie and with a character who more closely fits his or her personality and you’ve got a recipe for success. The general public doesn’t care what you’ve done before, as long as what you’re doing right now is entertaining.

While the first two Fantastic Four movies weren’t as disappointing as Green Lantern, Chris Evans had already laid the blueprint for this kind of comeback with his Captain America rebirth. Ben Affleck looks like he’s about to do the same by making everyone forget about Daredevil as the new, butt-kicking Batman. But it’s Reynolds who’s really gone from zero to hero, meaning there’s hope for Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara and company yet — and Reynolds actually survived two crappy superhero roles, because …

A Good Character Can Shake Off a Bad Movie Too

Remember this movie version of Deadpool?

It’s okay if you don’t. That’s Reynolds in the dreadful X-Men Origins: Wolverine, playing a guy that was supposed to be Deadpool but got pretty much nothing important about him right.

Logic would suggest that it should have made Wade Wilson radioactive as the subject for a solo movie, but here’s the thing: audiences are used to getting different versions of the same comic book characters (see: Batman) on the big screen. What came before doesn’t matter, as long as you get the next version correct.

If you’re someone who thinks Warner Bros. made a misstep with Superman in Man of Steel, or fret about whether Spider-Man can make a triumphant comeback, this should fill you with tons of hope. Superhero movies are a “What have you done for me lately?” genre, and Deadpool is absolute proof of that.

R-Rated is OK

Studios have long been loathe from making R-rated movies where a PG-13 can suffice due to the fact that an R naturally cuts down on the number of people who can see the finished product. Deadpool himself has pointed out that his movie is not for kids, and there’s no question that Fox took a risk by going this route.

Except a PG-13 version of the Merc With a Mouth wouldn’t really be legit. Sticking to the essence of the character has paid huge dividends, the kind that superhero movies as a whole haven’t seen yet from an R-rated champion (no, Watchmen doesn’t count since it made only $107.5 million).

Next: Deadpool Smashes February Box Office Record

The vast majority of superhero flicks should continue to be rated PG-13. But if a studio has a property that warrants a more mature treatment, Deadpool should serve as a comforting example of how it can still turn out just fine financially — even if Deadpool himself would object to being associated with the word “mature” in any fashion!