Few people expected Deadpool to pull in $80 million during its opening weekend. Even less thought the Merc with a Mouth would cross the $100 million threshold.
With Deadpool about to cross the $150 million line, the R-rated superhero movie has completely redefined what the superhero genre can be.
Superheroes aren't meant to be R-rated. Look at what Marvel has accomplished with its cinematic universe. The target audience for superhero movies has always been families, and even more specifically, children.
Deadpool not only ignored the safety of a family targeted movie, but purposely went out of its way to freeze out the very same audience that made superheroes like Iron Man and Captain America so successful in the first place.
The question is: "What does this all mean for the future of superhero movies?"
For the most part, nothing. Marvel will continue making its PG rated movies because it's continuously worked for them. Why would the company decide to mess around with a near bulletproof formula?
For other studios, however, like Fox, Sony and Warner Bros., the overwhelming success of Deadpool opens so many other doors.
Although Deadpool isn't the first successful R-rated superhero movie, it was the first of its classification that didn't overcompensate with cartoonish violence or gratuitous nudity to remind audiences that it was an R-rated superhero movie.
Instead, Reynolds and director Tim Miller decided to do two things to ensure the movie was as successful and inviting as it could be. They not only decided to stay as honest to the comic book character as they could, but they also made a movie about a person instead of a formulaic movie about a superhero. Sure, there were origin story elements in the movie, but for the most part, Deadpool ignored everything Disney and Marvel said a movie must include for it to be successful.
Going forward, it's time other studios — especially Warner Bros. — realize that the characters they're playing with can have very adult themes and storylines and still work for an audience. A superhero movie can be R-rated and still pull in over $100 million. But the studios have to dedicate themselves to enacting a similar formula Fox did with Deadpool.
Deadpool was unique for a couple of reasons. Ryan Reynolds was wholly enthusiastic about the role for years and fought tirelessly to get the movie made. Tim Miller wasn't a director that studios had been training to tackle a film like this, but instead built his career in visual effects. The result is a beautifully sculptured movie with extra emphasis on choreographed fight scenes, similar to John Wick.
For Miller and Reynolds, Deadpool is a pet project that prove that B-list superheroes can be a financial success, provided the movie is given the right treatment — and that it doesn't treat the audience like children.
A superhero movie can be R-rated and still pull in over $100 million.
It's time for studios to start making more movies like Deadpool. Legitimately funny and well-written movies that don't rely on the superhero aspect as their main selling point. As much as Deadpool is a superhero movie, it doesn't box itself into that category. The movie is about a man and his need to protect the woman he's in love with from an overbearing amount of pain, with superhero elements thrown into the mix.
The critical and financial success of Deadpool proves that audiences want more out of their comic book movies than just the run-of-the-mill Marvel movie. While there will always be an audience for the next Captain America, Deadpool has shown that there's also an audience who wants something a little more biting out of their blockbuster movies.
Above all else, Deadpool is the prime example that after doing the formulaic Marvel, Sony and Fox superhero movies for more than a decade, audiences are ready for a new sense of direction in the subgenre.
As ironic as it may be, considering Deadpool's character is one of the most immature in comic books, the maturity of the movie was a refreshing take on the genre and it's an aspect of the film that people are clearly interested in. We still enjoy the big explosive Avengers movies, but we don't need all of our superhero movies to be like that anymore. That's no longer new and exciting; it's predictable and safe.
Deadpool wasn't safe and it wasn't predictable. It wasn't anything that we've come to expect in a superhero movie, and that's exactly why other studios should be taking note.