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Deadpool: New life for the R-rated superhero flick

Deadpool: New life for the R-rated superhero flick

Deadpool: New life for the R-rated superhero flick
February 17
11:45 2016

By Preston Mitchell | Staff Writer


Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that “Deadpool” hit the box office this weekend and is already a monster hit. It took a beloved comic book antihero, adapted his fourth-wall-breaking prowess, and told his origin within the framework of revenge storytelling. It finally gave Ryan Reynolds an enduring character after three terrible superhero films, and probably has the best casting of its kind since Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark.

And most importantly, it’s good, old-fashioned action fun, and in the wake of its success, “Deadpool” is going to redefine the superhero genre (and the blockbuster industry) in several ways.

First and foremost, the film legitimizes the recent R-rated action movie resurgence. Now, don’t get me wrong: R-rated actioners are made all the time. However, the only mainstream knock-down-drag-outs that made any real money for a while either featured cookie-cutter superheroes or “Furious” in the title. For the past decade, it’s been difficult for bloody, cathartic entertainment like “Dredd” and “Kick-Ass” to find theatrical audiences. It also didn’t help that ’90s hazbins like Steven Seagal and Jean-Claude Van Damme cheapened the mold by capitalizing on the direct-to-video circuit.

But almost a year ago, Fox slated “Kingsman: The Secret Service” to release on the same Valentine’s Day weekend that “Fifty Shades of Grey” was set to be released. Despite being a similar comic adaptation, helmed again by Matthew Vaughn (“Kick-Ass”), it became the sleeper hit of February and has a sequel in the works, set to begin filming this April. Not bad for an R-rated British send-up.

A year later, Fox put “Deadpool,” another incredible satire, on the same weekend. Right now, it’s on track to receive an even wider audience than “Kingsman” ever did. Having the highest grossing R-rated opening since “The Matrix Reloaded,” major studios will soon be counter-programming against the usual February onslaught of chick flicks. It’s about time that us dudes found something to watch on Valentine’s Day (unlike the abysmal “Good Day to Die Hard”).

The brilliance of “Deadpool” is how it utilizes violence and vulgarity to lampoon Marvel plot conventions. Penned by the same geniuses behind “Zombieland,” it hilariously pokes fun at the “X-Men” universe it inhabits without ever becoming too obscure for casual moviegoers unfamiliar with the backstory.

Advantageously, it’s an opportunity for Ryan Reynolds to lead an adult spin-off franchise for Fox, similar to how Disney is separating Daredevil and Jessica Jones from Captain America and friends.

What this means for the genre is that more mature properties will be seen as viable blockbusters by studio heads. Everything that “Watchmen” and films of its ilk have attempted to do have now been rectified, especially since “Deadpool” has stellar fight scenes as well as top-notch comedy writing. There probably won’t be an abundance of self-aware adaptations, but we’ll definitely see more alternative superheroes flooding the new market.

At last, “Deadpool” will forever be remembered as a successful exercise in clout. It had everything going against it: a lead that often picks terrible scripts, a first time director and a reported budget of $58 million.

Fortunately, Fox granted Reynolds and company enough carte blanche to make the film they wanted and it paid off.

Now the four-color genre has a four-letter-word game-changer on its hands. Go see it.

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