For those of you here for the news, last week, 20th Century Fox announced that they’re doing a Deadpooll movie. YAY! New news is that this movie will not be the “Hard R” rated flick that comic book fans have been dying for. Simply put, the only reason Fox backed the movie was because script writer Tim Miller was able to change the film to be a PG-13 movie. I’m pretty sure I can hear fans over the internet scream, cry, rant, and generally get pissed off about this, and they’re totally entitled to that, but just for a second let’s look at reality, the character, the movie business, and why a PG-13 Deadpool movie might not be a bad thing after all. (The news is over kiddos, this is my soapbox time).
Reality Check: 20th Century Fox bought the film rights to the X-Men, Fantastic Four, Deadpool, Daredevil and a few others sometime last century with the first licensed X-Men movie released in 2000. So long as Fox continues to produce films with these characters (and related villains), they’ll keep those film rights. [Side note, if you’re waiting for X-Men or Spiderman (Sony) to cross over with any other Marvel characters on the big screen, don’t hold your breath (or do, you’ll pass out though). As Marvel Film Studios has been hitting massive home-runs with their film franchises, they’ve basically shown Fox and Sony studios that comic book properties can be even more financially successful than they originally anticipated. Basically, Marvel sold film rights to studios, with Sony and Fox thinking they’re worth hundreds of millions, and Marvel showed them they’re easily worth billions, and thus, worth holding on to. Keep in mind, we’re living in the universe where we’ve basically gotten the best possible outcome from that scenario, but that’s an article for another time.] For example, Fox opted to not use the Daredevil rights after the initial movie flopped, those rights reverted back to Marvel, and now we’re getting a pretty cool looking Daredevil series on Netflix. So, 20th Century Fox, the studio behind the X-Men movies will be making the Deadpool movie, given that it has now been reworked to be given a PG-13 rating. Perhaps you’re thinking that Marvel Studios would be better suited to bring a more faithful adaptation. I call shenanigans and bullshit on that. Marvel, owned by Disney would probably shy away from the violence of Deadpool altogether, meaning if Marvel had the rights, I doubt we’d ever see a Deadpool movie. By some miracle that Disney did decide to make one, I’d imagine they’d neuter Deadpool more than they did Tony Stark. Yes, we got a wonderfully charismatic Tony Stark thanks to Mr. Robert Downey Jr (and Mr. Favreau), but none of the movies touched on Tony battling his demons, namely alcoholism. Really, the only attempt to address Tony’s mature themes was in IM3, where charming was swapped for shaking and unconfident, BLEH! Case in point, given today’s movie landscape, our best bet at a violent AND funny Deadpool is with Fox.
PG-13 doesn’t have to be a death sentence: Hear me out, (or read…whatever). For starters, you can pretty much kill a ton of people in all sorts of ways in a PG-13 movie. Seriously, look at any Bond movie. You want dope action movies with a PG-13 ratings, LOTR:ROTK (drops mic). Seriously, that movie had orcs getting slaughter, melted, stabbed, sword fights and all kinds of jaw dropping action….and its PG-13. This was for two reasons. One, most of the characters getting killed (orcs) weren’t human, thus its “fantasy violence”, which for some reason isn’t as bad as people killing people (I don’t agree with the rules or think they make sense, but those are the MPAA’s rulings). The second reason, and probably weirder one is that there wasn’t a ton of blood. Seriously, I’m not joking. The MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America), the people that rate movies, turn the other way to tons of killing and violence so long as there’s no gore or blood. So, while Deadpool is a pretty violent character, he doesn’t necessarily need to be gory. Along with this, the lack of gore and blood in his movie is ripe for Deadpool’s signature style of comedy. Deadpool is one of those characters that’s fully aware of what he is, a comic book character. He often breaks the fourth wall, comments on how ridiculous his situations are, and generally pokes fun at himself. Seriously, imagine Deadpool’s inner monologue about why no one he’s killing ever bleeds, or why his swears are arbitrarily censored. This leaves his movie ripe for social commentary on the movie industry as a whole, and a potential comedy gold mine. The over-the-top violence and language can take a lesson from “Scott Pilgrim vs the World”, which has tons of great fight scenes and a clever way to cover up language. Deadpool can easily thrive in a PG-13 environment with the right amount of creativity.
But why does it have to be PG-13?: Simply put, because this is a business. I like R-rated movies as much as the next guy. Seriously, favorite movie is Pulp Fiction (and pretty much all QT movies), and I have the “Bad Mother Fucker” wallet to prove it. I love violence, I love rough language, and I love movies made for an adult audience. But I also realize that those movies generally don’t make as much money as PG-13 movies. Take a step back and out of your fanboy shoes and put yourself in an executive’s head. You see that almost none of the top grossing movies are rated R. The top grossing comic book movies are all PG-13. R rated movies are subject to a smaller audience because theatres tend to (mostly) follow the MPAA guidelines (they’re not laws), and not sell tickets to minors. Theatres don’t put R rated movies on as many screens when compared to PG-13 (a 15-20 plex will dedicated 3-5 screens to a PG-13 movie vs 1-2 for an R). All these factors and more mean that if you’re going to gamble with 100 million dollars (typical movie cost now), you wan’t the best chance of success possible, meaning you’re looking at making a PG-13 movie. As fans, we’re not fronting the cash, we’re not investors, and we don’t get to make the creative decisions, and that’s the reality we live in. Sure, there are things like kickstarter, but that only give someone else the means, you still don’t get any say in the creative process.
Alright, I’ve listed some pros, and you might be getting a little hyped about this thing. But let’s pump the brakes just a bit. I only said it COULD be good, I never said it would be. To be fair, here are some things that could make this movie as bad as X-Men Origins:Wolverine.
Script Re-Writes: The original Deadpool movie script was intended to be an R-rated movie. Now Tim Miller has rewritten this script and says it hasn’t lost its soul, so that’s good news, right? Not necessarily. As is common with a lot of script rewrites and tone downs, the story become jumbled and almost nonsensical, key events get removed, and the movie becomes an utter mess. A prime example is Blade Trinity. The movie was supposed to revolve around vampires farming humans which involved a pretty intricate plot, much closer to Blade 2. The studio stepped in, basically said, “Nope, do some shit with Dracula”, and we got Blade Trinity. Comedian Patton Oswalt has a killer explanation of that fiasco (he worked on the movie) and I highly recommend it, along with like all of his stand up. Not all script rewrites are bad, pretty much all movies go through rewrites multiple times, so this isn’t a huge red flag, just a sign to be carefully cautious with your enthusiasm.
Actors: Ryan Reynolds is a good actor. Sure, he was terrible as the Green Lantern, but that movie was just bad all over (and if he was going to play anyone in the DC verse, it should have been the Flash). So don’t rip on the guy for Green Lantern. Mr. Reynolds is funny, has great comedic timing and is literally perfect for Deadpool. But last time played the character was 5 years ago, and he may not be interested. At which point, a new actor will be cast, and there’s always the possibility that they won’t be a great fit. Casting a comic book character isn’t always easy, for every Hugh Jackman as Wolverine or Patrick Stewart as Professor X (perfect casting), you get Eric Bana as Bruce Banner, Halle Berry as Storm, or Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan. In a movie where Deadpool is the main character (and he doesn’t have a team or crew to help carry the movie), the casting needs to be on point.
Villains and Sequels: This one is just a really minor potential con, but with this being a Marvel property, Fox is almost guaranteed to be looking at possible sequels if this movie does well. We’ve already covered that the studio wants to make as much money as possible, which generally means sequels. So the studio may want to start setting up for Deadpool 2, but that may come at the cost of making a fully realized Deadpool 1. It’s a very real possibility that we won’t get a fully realized Deadpool or an interesting villain, because the studio has its eye’s on the next entry. And if they release a half-assed Deadpool movie that doesn’t make money, Deadpool 2 is pretty much canned.
Look, if a Deadpool movie was ever going to be made by a major studio, it was always going to be a PG-13 movie. But, PG-13 doesn’t mean it has to be garbage. Sure, we can do with out the blood, or just make the enemies aliens (Skrull!). Deadpool can point out the ridiculous nature of his situation. Deadpool, even with a PG-13 rating can be just as violent as he is in the comics, and when he can’t be, he can be damn funny about it.