"Deadpool" had an incredible, record-breaking weekend at the President’s Day box office, and the success has sent ripples around the industry, with chatter already starting that the R-rated comic book movie has been "saved." That’s exactly the angle taken in a piece by Variety, with analyst Paul Dergarabedian saying, “If you’re editing a superhero movie right now, you may figure it’s worth amping up the language, action and attitude because audiences seem to love it.”
Meanwhile, there have also been fairly reductive takes on why the movie was a hit, with one studio suit telling Deadline, “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.”
And both sentiments have drawn the ire of "Guardians Of The Galaxy" director James Gunn, who hit Facebook to explain that "Deadpool" was so much more than just a smartass movie, and that Hollywood would be well advised against just trying to copy the filth of Tim Miller‘s movie and hoping for the same success. Here’s some of what Gunn had to say:
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.
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 frankly, Gunn is right-on. I wasn’t a big fan of "Deadpool," but I recognize why it worked for the audiences who really enjoyed it. 20th Century Fox believed in the filmmakers, who in turn followed their vision right its foul-mouthed, self-aware end, with a unique tone that resonated for many. And you can bet that this morning, there will be meetings all over Hollywood with execs looking into their development projects and trying to figure out what they can turn into their own "Deadpool"-sized hit. But that’s missing the point. The R-rating for "Deadpool" worked because it suited the character and his world, and trying to impose that on something where it’s not natural is simply going to miss the mark.
Thoughts? Read Gunn’s full post and then let us know what you think in the comments section.