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Deadpool: Guardians of the Galaxy director slams Hollywood for learning wrong lessons from its success

"For the theatrical experience to survive, spectacle films need to expand their definition of what they can be"

Clarisse Loughrey
Tuesday 16 February 2016 10:00
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Deadpool has ripped through the box office, in a fitting move for the katana-wielding hero. Tim Miller's fourth-wall breaking film has smashed records, already earning nearly five times its original budget with a blistering $265M globally. Astonishing for a film which spent 10 years in development hell, searching for a studio which would take the risk on the Merc with a Mouth.

Hollywood has already started looking for explanations; searching for the magic formula which can ensure hundreds more Deadpools in the future. Was it the R-rated language and violence? The meta-quality which poked fun at past superhero installments? Is Ryan Reynolds newly-crowned box office gold? Be assured studios across La La Land have been feverishly meeting and strategising over this apparent mystery, and James Gunn thinks all their conclusions will inevitably be the wrong one.

The Guardians of the Galaxy director, a film itself deemed a risk at the time of release, took to Facebook to highlight his perceived issues with Hollywood's approach to this brand of surprise success. In particular, he highlighted a Deadline article which quoted an anonymous "suit" as attributing the film's success to one thing: "The film has a self-deprecating tone that’s riotous. It’s never been done before. It’s poking fun at Marvel. That label takes itself so seriously, can you imagine them making fun of themselves in a movie? They’d rather stab themselves."

"The film has a self-deprecating tone that’s riotous. It’s never been done before. It’s poking fun at Marvel. That label...

Posted by James Gunn on Monday, 15 February 2016


Gunn's entirely right: Deadpool is a reflection of a far larger, tonal move away from the 'dark and gritty' legacy of Nolan's Batman movies. One largely propelled forward by Disney/Marvel and its Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man properties, further cemented in their hiring of comedic director Taika Waititi for Thor: Ragnarok.

If there's anything to be learnt from Deadpool's success, as with Guardians of the Galaxy; it's the simple notion that creative risks are entirely worth taking, as the right film is absolutely able to hit a chord with audiences. Furthermore, it's likely the film's ingenious marketing campaign had a major part to play in building hype for the film, with word of mouth and positive critical reviews then carrying the rest of the steam.

Gunn is currently in production on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. With his social media presence continuing to illuminate the director's smart, tuned in approach to superhero filmmaking, it's a great sign the space opera sequel will be making the kind of bold, creative choices that landed the first film with such critical and popular praise.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 hits UK cinemas 28 April 2017.

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