Back when the box office smashing Deadpool was still a blip on an ambitious horizon, it was hailed as the superhero movie that was going to save superhero movies. Because, as naysayers love to tell us, the superhero movie bubble is going to burst soon. And when it does we'll have to find other outlets for spending all those millions of dollars (though the fact that #SuicideSquad was a box office smash seems to run contrary to that argument).
Because, as a billion internet memes and the people who read them have told us, #Deadpool isn't your typical superhero. He's edgy, he's an antihero; he swears, and he kills people! Oh, and in case you haven't heard yet, he breaks the fourth wall! Move over Captain America you crusty old patriot, it's R-rated Spider-Man's time to shine!
Deadpool was a pretty great movie, as evidenced by the outpouring of fan-love and incredible returns at the box office the world over. Hailing as the first R-rated superhero movie we've had since the Fox-Marvel and #MarvelCinematicUniverse kicked open the doors to vaults of money, it certainly had something to do with the fact that we're finally getting an R-rated Wolverine movie (woo!). So, there's that. And that is nothing to be sniffed at.
- Fox Unveils Two New Release Dates For Their Marvel Movies, Will X-Force Trump X-Men?
- 'I Was Such A Douche' To Get Deadpool Made Says Ryan Reynolds
- Fox Is Still Trying To Find A Director For Deadpool 3, It Seems
And, of course, it was the first time we've seen a proper wall-breaking main character in a superhero movie. Using Deadpool's most iconic trait from his relatively short history in #MarvelComics, the movie works so well because of the numerous illusion-breaking moments. To top it off, it's a very funny movie, and Ryan Reynolds nails the character to the extent that we need to check if his birth certificate actually reads "Wade Wilson."
But, though it may be a great movie, Deadpool is not subversive. Even in all its fourth-wall breaking, violent, R-rated humor, glory, the movie still falls into old tropes and traps, and follows a fairly generic blueprint. This is the big thing Deadpool 2 needs to strive to be.
Deadpool is in many ways a typical superhero story. We have an origin. We have a lovable rogue for a hero. We have sidekicks, and a beautiful love interest who is threatened by her link to the hero. We have an arc of fall and redemption for the hero. We have a lot more swearing and violence than we're used to, but all the basic components are very typical of a superhero origin movie.
There was no genre skewing, no critiquing of characters' archetypes and stereotypes, no hint of Deadpool's pansexuality. They lifted the fun stuff — the violence, the swearing, the fourth wall-breaking — without taking much of the rest of what makes Deadpool Deadpool. This isn't too much of a surprise though, as Deadpool was more of a test of the waters to see if an R-rated movie would work here, as well as the character's first big on-screen outing (no, Wolverine: Origins does not count, thanks).
Another gripe that was discussed at the time of release also involved the much lamented over divide of gender representation. First there was the jokey Valentine's Day rom-com marketing around Deadpool, which allowed guys the world over to go "ho ho" and make jokes about tricking their girlfriends into going to see the movie with them. Then there was the fourth-wall breaking line when Deadpool addresses the camera near the beginning of the movie:
"You're probably thinking, 'My boyfriend said this was a superhero movie but that guy in the suit just turned that other guy into a fucking kabab!'"
Jokes about girls not being into comics can be used in a subversive manner, but here they're just boring. Because we all know that only men read comic books and enjoy superhero movies, despite the fact that women comprise nearly half of all comic book readership (as according to monthly reports published by Graphic Policy).
And then there's the fact that perhaps the most prevalent female in the movie, Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), or Copycat as she is known in the comics, is presented purely in the typical role as the hero's girlfriend who needs saving, but without her mutant powers. Why is this bad? Well, as Entertainment Weekly wrote:
Like the Comic Vanessa, Baccarin is a stripper slash maybe prostitute. Unlike Comic Vanessa, Baccarin isn’t a shapeshifter. Maybe they’re saving that for 'Deadpool 2'. Maybe it says something about a movie when you transplant a character from the comic books, and you think her shapeshifting is less essential than her stripping.
Vanessa is a badass character for sure — and an excellent source of humor — but still she fits into a pretty typical framework when it comes to superhero movies: She's the love interest who needs to be saved when she's used as a hostage to get back at her love interest, the hero. A hostage in stockings and suspenders.
Although on the other hand, Deadpool did give us Brianna Hildebrand as Negasonic Teenage Warhead, and for that we will always be grateful.
Now that Deadpool director Tim Miller has left the project, replaced by John Wick co-director David Leitch, it is looking like we're going to get something a little bit different this time around. Wade Wilson started life as a parody of DC's Slade Wilson (Deathstroke), and his entire deal has always been mocking and skewering the genre itself. Deadpool was a fun movie, and it was a great first step, but it wasn't all that ambitious beyond being the first to plant the R-rated flag on the superhero moon.
Now that we know that audiences will flock to see an R-rated superhero movie, and one a little different from the typical Marvel and DC offerings, it's a good time now to branch out. Now the Deadpool 2 creators can really start pushing the boundaries of what a comic book movie can be, and reach into proper parody.
And, as this grows, it also helps the superhero movie grow as a genre of film, which in turn will put a dampener on the bubble burst that studios fear. But right now, we're hoping for a Deadpool 2 which will buckle down and do what Wade Wilson does best: subvert the superhero genre, and create something new from that.
What do you really want to see in Deadpool 2? Sound off in the comments below!