‘Deadpool’: What to Expect From the R-Rated Comic Book Movie

There’s a veritable treasure trove of anticipated superhero movies on the docket for both Marvel and DC. On the Marvel side, 2016 will see the release of Captain America: Civil War and Doctor Strange. For DC/Warner Bros., they’ll have Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad, giving both studios plenty of guarantees at the box office next year. Before any of those films hit theaters though, 20th Century Fox will unveil the Ryan Reynolds-led Deadpool in February.

Deadpool is a movie that’s coming to fruition after spending years in development hell. Leaked test footage showing Reynolds as the titular hero forced Fox’s hand, with overwhelming fan feedback leading to its eventual green-light from the studio. From there we’ve seen one full-length trailer and a whole lot of promises from Reynolds and his people that the movie will be as faithful to the comic books as possible. Knowing what we know about Deadpool‘s comic counterpart, a fulfillment of that promise could end up giving us a movie that changes the superhero genre forever. [Update, 1/21/16: There has been an extremely positive reception from fans that saw an early screening of the film on January 18.]

1. The meta-humor of Deadpool

Deadpool - Marvel Comics
Source: Marvel Comics

The Deadpool we’re familiar with in the comics is one that’s hyper self-aware, often breaking the fourth wall to speak directly to the audience about what’s transpiring on the page. It’s something that’s become as much a part of his character as his trademark red costume and twin katana swords, and for any movie to really capture the spirit of the comics, the meta-commentary is a necessity.

Dive into the plans for the movie, and things seem promising. Collider spent time on the set of the movie, reporting back with confirmation directly from the film’s screenwriters:

[T]he comics had given us the leeway to break the fourth wall, so in a way he’s just strangely omniscient, he can talk about the fact that he’s in a movie, he can talk about things that the character wouldn’t know and everyone around him is kind of like, “What are you talking about?”

It’ll make for a storytelling device that’s never really been attempted in the realm of superhero movies, and in a lot ways it will set Deadpool apart from its contemporaries in a big way.

2. The R-Rating

Deadpool, Ryan Reynolds - 20th Century Fox
Source: 20th Century Fox

We have the fourth-wall-breaking. But that’s not all that defines Deadpool in the comics. Additionally, his is a character who revels in blood, gore, and dirty language. That, of course, poses a problem for Hollywood, having never found success with R-Rated superhero movies (sorry, Punisher). Deadpool will dive in headfirst regardless, in an attempt to become the first film of its kind to strike pay-dirt. Compare that to Marvel’s approach, where even Captain America is telling his fellow Avengers to watch their language, and we see a daring movie into uncharted territory.

If the red-band trailer currently up on YouTube tells us one thing, it’s that Deadpool will deliver on their R-Rating in spades. And while this may go against the grain, ultimately it’s a positive. Most superhero movies are almost comically shy when it comes to blood and bad language, and having a film that runs as fast as it can in the opposite direction will be a welcome change.

3. “This movie will be a powerhouse.”

Deadpool Movie - Ryan Reynolds
Source: 20th Century Fox

The above statement comes courtesy of comic book artist Rob Liefeld, and it’s one that carries plenty of weight given his status as one of Deadpool’s original creators. In his interview with USA Today, Liefeld even goes on to admit he doesn’t “know how you come out of the theater as someone between the age of 18-30 without [Deadpool] being your favorite movie.” None of this is small praise coming from the man who originally penned the merc with a mouth, raising the bar to Guardians of the Galaxy-type heights.

It could be that Liefeld is simply trying to help sell a movie featuring one of his own characters. Even so, we’ve seen Hollywood ruin a perfectly good movie in the name of marketability before, so having him on board speaks volumes.

4. The script hasn’t been altered or dumbed down

Deadpool - Ryan Reynolds, 20th Century Fox
Source: 20th Century Fox

There are probably a whole lot of execs in Hollywood who would tell you that an anti-hero who breaks the fourth wall, swears like a sailor, and generally goes against everything that embodies the idea of wide appeal is something that can never succeed. With a script that’s been floating around 20th Century Fox since 2010, it would seem reasonable that the movie would be diced up and dumbed down as a result of this, resulting in an entirely unrecognizable final version.

What we have instead is what qualifies as a Hollywood rarity. In that USA Today interview, Liefeld tells us that the original 2010 screenplay is by-and-large “the R-rated spectacle you’re going to see in February.” Even he seemed surprised, noting that “for it to go this long without them screwing with the script is a miracle.” Collider’s set visit confirms as much, venturing to guess that “the final Deadpool script is about 70% of the script that was leaked.”

5. The soundtrack

Awesome Mix - Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel
Source: Marvel

Marvel’s Guardian’s of the Galaxy was one of the first superhero movies to really allow its soundtrack to play a singular role, utilizing Star-Lord’s “Awesome Mixtape Vol. 1″ as a juxtaposed collection of oldies ballads. Deadpool apparently has a similar plan, although Collider notes that theirs came long before Guardians ever hit theaters:

When Guardians of the Galaxy came out and featured that cool soundtrack, Reynolds said, ‘I did have a bit of a panic attack.’ On set both Reynolds and [T.J.] Miller made it clear that the Deadpool script had its music cues in it years before Guardians was written.

Regardless of who did it first, it’ll be interesting to see how the movie utilizes its soundtrack. Already, we’ve seen the trailer make the goofy choice of using DMX’s “X Gonna Give To Ya,” so we imagine the rest of the song choices will be just as delightfully strange.

6. The bizarrely hilarious promotion cycle

Outside of trailers, we’ve already seen Reynolds pop-up in odd places donning the red suit. It began this last April, when Reynolds took to Twitter in apparent outrage over the studio’s need to make Deadpool more “family friendly.” April 1 then kicked off with Deadpool appearing to knock Mario Lopez off of his chair during an “interview” with Reynolds, promising an R-Rating and wishing viewers a happy April Fool’s Day.

Months later, the merc with a mouth popped up yet again on YouTube. Entitled “How Deadpool Spent Halloween,” we see the titular antihero rallying a group of kids dressed as the X-Men and…well, see for yourself above. It’s equal parts hilarious and cringeworthy, and pretty much embodies everything we could want Deadpool to be.

7. Redemption for X-Men Origins and Green Lantern

Deadpool - X-Men Origins, 20th Century Fox
Source: 20th Century Fox

Ryan Reynolds has been dealt a bum hand when it comes to his superhero movies. Warner/DC’s Green Lantern is widely regarded as one of the worst the genre’s ever seen, while his first try at Wade Wilson (Deadpool’s alter ego) ended with his character literally having his mouth sewn shut. Already we’re seeing a hyper-awareness on the part of Deadpool in terms of this; the first trailer took a potshot at DC, with Wilson requesting his super-suit “not be green…or animated.” Origins gets its turn too, with Collider telling us that “Deadpool references X-Men Origins: Wolverine by breaking the fourth wall and making fun of it.”

Deadpool lands in theaters on February 12 (just in time for Valentine’s Day). The latest TV spot can be seen below.

Follow Nick on Twitter @NickNorthwest

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