Marvel keeps making box office gold out of seemingly nothing, don't they? Even by superhero standards, Marvel's recent movie slate has been bizarre. A walking tree, a talking raccoon, and Andy from "Parks and Recreation" teamed up in "Guardians of the Galaxy," which became a surprise hit. The next year, Marvel made a movie about a hero whose powers included shrinking down and communicating with insects. Sounds stupid, but "Ant-Man" also did surprisingly well at the box office. And this past month, a Fox-produced Marvel movie about a mercenary who cannot be killed and has the mouth of a sailor broke several box office records: "Deadpool."
"Deadpool" had actually been in the works for several years, and when test footage was leaked to the public, fans demanded that Fox greenlight the film. On a relatively small budget for a superhero movie, it did astoundingly well. And on a personal note, I loved it. Deadpool is one of my favorite Marvel characters, and it was great to see him on the big screen, in all of his wisecracking glory. But I am concerned about what the success of this movie means for the future of superhero movies.
I'm worried that studio executives will view the success of "Deadpool" as an excuse to crank out R-rated superhero movies, regardless of character. In fact, after "Deadpool's" opening weekend, rumors surfaced that the director's cut of "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice" would be R-rated, but the mainstream release would still be PG-13. Other studios may see the money that "Deadpool" made and decide that they can make an edgy action-comedy that will be a big hit. The fact is, others may try to duplicate the success of "Deadpool," but none will do it well.
"Deadpool" worked because the tone and the character matched. The character doesn't take himself too seriously, and neither did the movie. Deadpool curses and jokes because that's who he is, and that's what sets him apart from other superheroes. It would be weird to see Captain America making sexual innuendos because that's not who he is, but that humor works for Deadpool. Simply taking his sense of humor and gory action sequences and placing them on another character wouldn't work.
I know this because it's been tried before. After the success of Tim Burton's "Batman" movies, every superhero film tried to be dark and gritty. Almost none of them worked. "Daredevil" did all right but was hated by fans of the character. "Spawn" bombed at the box office. Even the good franchises of the time, namely "X-Men," "Blade" and "Spider-Man," had more dark elements than fans would usually expect. Everyone was trying to emulate the success of "Batman." Studios decided that since the dark, edgy "Batman" did well, audiences wanted dark and edgy superheroes across the board, regardless if that tone fit the character or not. And, for the most part, none of the films really worked.
In an ideal world, studios would have learned their lessons from those failures. But I don't think they have. Whenever there's a big hit, inevitably others will try and capitalize on it and make as much money as they can. It's a "strike while the iron's hot" mentality, and regardless of the quality of the films, studios hitch themselves to whatever's popular in the hopes of cashing in. It's an understandable phenomenon, but it's not one that should be tolerated by the viewing public.
So, while "Deadpool" was a quality film that broke the mold for what's possible in a superhero movie, it really shouldn't be emulated. Deadpool is a unique "hero" even in the comics that the movie is based on, and the film was a labor of love by its creators that took years to make sure that they were doing justice to the character, and they did. Just because it did well isn't an excuse for Marvel or DC to start adding unnecessary swearing and crude humor to all of their movies.