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Whenever a surprising movie hits it big in Hollywood, the industry becomes obsessed with dissecting its success and figuring out exactly why it worked. Right now, that’s the big conversation surrounding Deadpool - an R-rated superhero movie that was stuck in development hell for five years before becoming the highest grossing title in the X-Men franchise domestically. Everyone is determined to figure out the lesson learned from the box office hit, whether it’s the restricted rating or humor that made the blockbuster so popular, but according to the screenwriters, what people should really take away from the situation is that taking bigger and bigger risks is very important.
In the wake of Deadpool’s incredible success, I hopped on the phone with writers/producers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, and part of our conversation was dedicated to the consequences of their movie’s success, and what Hollywood should take away from it. They could have chosen any of the areas that pundits have been discussing the past two weeks – including the two mentioned above – but instead they stressed just the importance of taking a chance on projects that don’t necessarily look like big winners on the surface. As Wernick explained,
I think more than anything, you know, I think it’s going to allow people, allow studios and producers and directors and writers to take bigger risks with regards to the comics and the adaptations. Beyond that, I think everyone has got their brand. Marvel and DC and now Fox and, you know, X-Men and now Deadpool really feels like its own brand. … I think you’ll see some more obscure comic book characters try and make it to the big screen, but overall, I think that everyone will probably stay on brand. But within that brand, I think you will see, hopefully, greater risk taking.
Of course, part of greater risk taking means less imitation – which we all know the movie industry loves (think about how 3D blossomed after Avatar, and how the Suicide Squad trailer is reminiscent of Guardians of the Galaxy). In the coming months, we expect more than a few trade reports to describe newly developing projects as "Deadpool-esque," but Rhett Reese believes that the people that inevitably find themselves behind these projects are completely misinterpreting the impact that the new superhero movie should have:
I think if you start trying to be imitative, and look at Deadpool, analyze what made it succeed so you can copy that, you’re missing the entire point. The point was that Deadpool succeeded because it was not imitative or a copy of other things and hopefully there will be a little bit of a lean in to originality.
As has been said time and time again, the key to the future of comic book movies is variety within genre – and that’s exactly what Deadpool brings to the table. It’s not about people wanting a ton of violent and funny superhero films; it’s about showing audiences something that can surprise them.