Not only did Deadpool surpass all studio expectations, even securing a sequel before the movie actually opened in theaters, but it did so with an R-rating. It crushed the previous holder for an R-rated opening, held by 50 Shades of Grey, by $50 million. So what was the secret sauce that allowed Deadpool to beat expectations and satisfy moviegoers who have seen wave after wave of formulaic comic book movies make it to the big screen?
Well, if there’s one person that has had a front-row seat to the type of success that Deadpool has racked up, it’s Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn. Guardians was also a surprise performer at the box office, as it was expected to deliver an opening weekend of between $65 to $70 million (sound familiar?), but went on to have a domestic three-day opening tally of $94 million and eventually made over $770 million worldwide.
The outspoken Gunn, who often writes long diatribes via Facebook about the film industry, took the time to not only praise the filmmakers, but to explain why exactly Deadpool has resonated with audiences. “After every movie smashes records people here in Hollywood love to throw out the definitive reasons why the movie was a hit,” writes Gunn, who admits that he has an obvious bias towards Guardians. “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.” Although it seems slightly veiled here, I think it’s clear that Gunn is in part referencing this latest trailer for Suicide Squad.
Gunn goes on to give the obvious answer to why Deadpool was successful — it plotted its own course, and stayed true to what made the original comic so appealing. It didn’t water down the brashness of the series by aiming for a mainstream audience with a PG-13 rating — it instead went straight for the “dick jokes” and earned its R-rating.
“Deadpool was its own thing. THAT'S what people are reacting to,” Gunn continues. “It's original, it's damn good, it was made with love by the filmmakers, and it wasn't afraid to take risks.”
Gunn says the filmmakers and Hollywood will soon start up their copying machines to quickly attempt to replicate the success of Deadpool, but it will all be for naught. “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,’ adds Gunn. “They'll treat you like you're stupid, which is the one thing Deadpool didn't do.”
Hollywood would be wise to listen to Gunn’s advice, and for the rest of us, we’ll be anxiously awaiting the release Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, which is set for a 2017 debut.