Fox's irreverent, R-rated X-Men spinoff, Deadpool, broke more than just conventions when it released in theaters on Valentine's Day weekend. Without the benefit of 3D ticket premiums, this mini-budgeted superhero comedy managed not to just out-gross the worldwide box office total of every other R-rated film of all time, but also every other X-Men film. A sequel co-starring Cable has already been announced, but has yet to receive a solid release date.
Part of Deadpool's success can be attributed to its wildly effective marketing campaign. The film's tongue-in-cheek, self-referential nature extended to romantic comedy styled movie banners which read "Deadpool - True Love Never Dies - Valentine's Day." Deadpool released on DVD and Blu-Ray early last month, and is already continuing its streak of breaking new boundaries.
Recently, an eagle-eyed Reddit user pointed out a surprising stat on the Deadpool Blu-ray's product page on Amazon.com. The film is listed as a #1 Best Seller... in Romance. Runners up in the category were Pride + Prejudice + Zombies, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, Purple Rain, and The Danish Girl. It seems that either Amazon has a pretty loose interpretation of what constitutes a "romance," or their employees have a strong sense of humor. Or, third option, they saw Deadpool's Valentine's Day banner and got the wrong idea. Then again, Deadpool does have one of the most integral romantic arcs yet seen in a superhero film. The relationship that Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) has with his girlfriend Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) is the core around which much of the film's comedy, Wilson's emotional arc, and the action-packed finale are based.
With some superhero genre detractors chomping at the bit to prove theories about "genre fatigue," it's awesome to see superhero films like Deadpool continue to defy genre conventions. As Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn put it:
"Over the next few months, if you pay attention to the trades, you’ll see Hollywood misunderstanding the lesson they should be learning with Deadpool. They’ll be green lighting films 'like Deadpool' – but, by that, they won’t mean 'good and original' but 'a raunchy superhero film' or 'it breaks the fourth wall.' They’ll treat you like you’re stupid, which is the one thing Deadpool didn’t do."
In other words, what makes a film worthy isn't some arbitrary qualifier. Quality comes in all packages and transcends the boundaries of genre. What matters is how the pieces comes together, the story they tell, and how well that connects to audiences. As Wade Wilson puts it, "Some of the best love stories start with a murder."
Deadpool is currently available on digital, DVD, and Blu-Ray formats.