In the space of an opening weekend, Fox's Merc with a Mouth just went from plucky underdog with only a widely-hated supporting role in X-Men Origins: Wolverine to his cinematic credit, to box office record-breaking hero of the moment. Which, I suspect, we can all agree is one of those 'very good things' we hear so little about these days.
In the light of that $132 million domestic opening weekend haul, however, one giant, room-based-elephant-like question still remains: just why did Deadpool make so much money? For many, the answer is simply that people love Deadpool — which is certainly true to some extent — while some industry figures seem set to take the film's R-rating as the true cause of its tremendous box office success.
'Guardians of the Galaxy' Director James Gunn Has A Very Different Theory Regarding Deadpool's Success
Over the weekend, as Deadpool's rampant financial success became apparent, Deadline quoted a Hollywood 'suit' as saying:
"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."
Something which the director of the distinctly un-serious and actively fun-poking Guardians of the Galaxy understandably took exception to (on social media):
"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??!"
The thing is, though, Gunn didn't just take issue with the quoted 'insider,' but with the very logic that is being employed by many commentators to explain away Deadpool's box office success. According to Gunn:
'Deadpool' Didn't Do Well Because It Was R-Rated
Instead, he argued:
"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."
In other words?
'Deadpool' Succeeded Because It Was Genuinely Different, And Willing To Take Risks
And, as Gunn went on to point out, that isn't likely to be the lesson most movie executives take from the movie's rip-roaring box office success:
"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."
Now, Gunn will surely be right about the first half of his prediction — odds are there are countless R-rated action movies being green-lit as we speak - but the real question is whether studios will be willing to take chance on something genuinely new and exciting, just like Fox did with Deadpool.
What do you think, though?
What do you most want to see Deadpool inspire?