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It's no secret that superhero movies are everywhere. Comic book adaptations have become the film world's most profitable and popular over the past few years. But while there are plenty of comic book blockbusters in theaters, only a handful have been released with a hard R rating. Atlanta actress Zazie Beetz happens to appear in two of these projects, Deadpool 2 and Joker. But according to her, the projects couldn't be more different.
The Deadpool franchise was a game changer for the superhero genre, proving that an R rating wouldn't prevent superhero blockbusters from making tons of money at the box office. A few projects have followed suit, the most recent being Todd Phillips' dark psychological drama Joker. But while projects like Joker and Deadpool 2 have been lumped together due to their rating, Zazie Beetz recently spoke to their inherent differences. As she put it:
I think it’s funny because they are inherently completely different in terms of production and how everything came together. One is an action comedy, and the other one is a psychological drama. So, I feel like comic book is plastered on both, but tonally, it’s completely different. But, I think that’s what’s lovely. It’s genre-bending and not prescribing the idea of a comic book story to be one thing. They traditionally do span a great spectrum. There’s a lot of adult comics; there’s also very neutral comics. While Deadpool is still an R-rated story, there’s a youthfulness to it that Joker doesn’t have. I think it’s great to do that in art and to keep pushing what the expectations are as Deadpool does already by being a little raunchier and a little dirtier than what we would normally expect. Hopefully, the genre continues to explore.
You've got to hand it to her, Zazie Beetz has a point. Her two comic book movies use their R-rating in vastly different ways. And in many ways they represent all the genre is capable of. One is a fourth-wall breaking comedy, while the other is a dark and tense psychological descent into madness. In fact, Beetz is one of the only similarities of the two respective blockbusters.
Zazie Beetz's comments to THR make a great deal of sense from an audience perspective. Her two comic book credits inspire very different feelings in the theater, resulting in an almost polar opposite moviegoing experience. So I can only imagine just how different the movies were on the set. Additionally, Domino and Joker's Sophie Dumond had very different fates in their respective movies.
The 28 year-old actress also make a point about the superhero genre's need to continue exploring. Given the popularity of the superhero genre, plenty of studios have gotten in on the action and created their own cinematic universe. While movies continue to make money, there has been some concern over superhero fatigue. This concept indicates that the market will become oversaturated, with movies failing to bring something unique to theaters.
But both the Deadpool franchise and Joker have brought something wholly unique to the comic book world. While one used high concept and adult humor, the other was a dark and upsetting story that didn't contain the typical flash and action of a comic book movie. These unexpected perspectives both really resonated with audiences, making tons of money in the process. And both projects benefit from having their R rating.
Spoilers ahead for Joker! If you haven't seen Todd Phillips' latest, check out another one of our stories.
Zazie Beetz' above comments about her two comic book projects feeling different makes a ton of sense, especially when you take into account her respective roles. Joker and Deapdool 2 demanded very different skill sets from the actress, and likely very different hours on set as well. So it's not like she's a regular member of a universe, sharing the same visual and tonal language.
Deadpool 2 introduced Domino to audiences, as a member of Wade Wilson's ill-fated X-Force. The Merc with the Mouth originally dismissed Domino and her mutant luck abilities, claiming they simply weren't cinematic enough. But he was proven wrong during the team's first mission, and Domino quickly became a scene stealer in the acclaimed sequel. She became a member of Wade's chosen family by the blockbuster's end, and is expected to appear in whatever movie continues the franchise.
Zazie Beetz got the role in Deadpool 2 with her quick wit, and ability to keep up with Ryan Reynolds on the fly. It also required an extensive physical fitness routine, and stunt work. The sequel was a blockbuster in every sense of the word, which is quite different from how Todd Phillips approached Joker.
In contrast, Joker was made on a minimal budget, and didn't feature action sequences or a single superhero. Zazie Beetz's character Sophie Dumond is non-superpowered, a single mother struggling during Gotham City's financial crisis. Her limited scenes were understated, as Joaquin Phoenix's Arthur Fleck attempted to gain some confidence and affection in his dark world. Her only moment of high stakes drama came during the film's third act, when it was revealed that her relationship was Arthur was simply a delusion in his mind. Sophie's fate was seemingly left unclear, as we never saw what happened after she asked him to leave her apartment.
While moviegoers are expecting to see Domino show back up on the big screen in one way or another, smart money says Joker is the last time we'll see Sophie and the rest of that cast. Todd Phillips has maintained that he wasn't interested in starting a bonafide villain franchise. He wanted to tell one specific story, the production and release of Joker hasn't been without controversy. As such, any lingering questions about the movie and Sophie's fate will likely remain unclear. At least until the director is directly asked.