Deadpool 2, and the disturbing Hollywood trend of running every innovative idea into the ground
A movie that proves it is possible (GASP!) to have too many winks
Wade Wilson is the type of man who putters about his apartment in crocs, and rides into battle on a ruby-red Vespa. Like the shot of the music box with an impaled Logan (Wolverine for X-Men speak), slowly spinning, Deadpool 2 contains a number of moments that provoke laughter in what is universally recognized as a harbinger of the truly great cinematic experience.
Like a good spice, or a great steak, it need not be overdone. But alas, this is Hollywood—and a Hollywood superhero sequel to boot—so there was never really a chance that 20th Century Fox and Marvel wouldn’t take a good thing in the guise of a clever concept and milk it to bone-rattling levels of dry.
So for all the innovation of the first Deadpool, the playfully irreverent opening credits, an antihero who’s delectably naughty and pokes holes in every sacred comic book myth—sorely needed stuff in an era of super-serious superhero fare—were put on the operating table and everything good about it was blasted past the point of decency. And that has nothing to do with the character of the jokes involved. It’s more the matter of their ubiquity.
Consider the arc of commercialization and marketing in this country. Poke through any magazine from twenty years ago and marvel at the amount of words you had to read about each product. Not so much anymore. Now it’s just images blasted at you. Pretty faces! Hot bodies! Clever clever clever don’t you feel clever for getting the joke we made accessible for your unsuspecting and non-inquisitive mind?
This was my big bone to pick with Deadpool 2. That as the laughter in the theater bellowed and swelled at each passing joke, my heart hardened. Was this simply me becoming a grouch, as I stare down my final year before turning 30? Probably. But my argument remains: why do popular movies have to dumb down their content in the hopes of attracting a wide audience?
This week I took a Delta flight, and was delighted to find that Deadpool was an option on the entertainment menu. Time to brush up on a film I haven’t seen in two years, and didn’t pay too close attention to the first time round, if we’re being honest. :)
Since I’m late to the party on anything cool (actually, I’ve just been spending more time at concerts than films of late), I happened to see You Were Never Really Here was still playing at a cinema yesterday, so I booked a ticket. It floored me. I came out of the theater wanting nothing more than to see it again.
When was the last time I felt that about a mainstream film? And this is where the current Hollywood dynamic doesn’t make sense to me. I remember vividly sitting through San Andreas three years ago, as I waited out a long Sunday in Austin before taking a flight home. It is quite possibly the worst film I have ever seen, one that could be summed up in two words: Earthquakes, man.
The re-writes this film must have undergone seeped through the hackneyed script. The amount of needless exposition that was dumped into it, flow and pacing be damned, just to make sure the audience didn’t lose track of the plot. For f***’s sake, man, I thought, as I shifted uncomfortably in my seat. Stop spelling everything out for people.
So much of You Were Never Really Here I could not relay to you. It’s a film you have to go see, to (GASP) experience. There are shots that make you shudder; sequences that stick in your mind. Questions caught in my throat. The meaning didn’t register immediately. And I loved it! Why isn’t this the Hollywood formula!!
It’s what Julian Casablancas lamented in that (of course) misunderstood Variety interview in March. Why do we live in a world where Ed Sheeran-esque music is considered the epitome of arena-packed pop culture, but Ariel Pink is on the fringes? Before you scoff at that sentiment, really ask yourself: would we have to adjust the sliders too much to make the latter a bit more popular? What’s standing in the way? Having to think a bit more about what we’re imbibing? Working through what we’re listening to in a more meaningful way?
Many people will defend the blockbuster; they go to the movies after a long week of work. The last thing they want is more work. Movies are expensive, and a person rightly wants to get his money’s worth. But as an experiment, wouldn’t it be more fun to come teeming out of a film not quite sure what to make of it? Because one thing is for sure: I did not get that feeling from Deadpool 2.
It’s just about what we come to expect from buck—I mean, blockbuster fare. The “rave” reviews for the new Solo Star Wars standalone film would confirm this suspicion.
In a TV spot I saw last night, every “review” raved about the action. That was, literally, it. It’s as if we’ve been conditioned to expect nothing more than a bunch of bangs and kapows and blazamos as we sit in seats, satiated by our sugar-rushes. Maybe it’s the dumbing down of America, but I don’t think it’s that insidious. Major movie studios aren’t bold when it comes to this kind of fare. They keep the pulse of what works in the market and amplify it. Maximize product, and all that jazz.
It would just be cool if we could demand a bit more of what we’re fed, rather than nerd-gasm over the unforeseen insertion of a comic book character (a big one at that, in Deadpool 2). If we could raise a middle finger at every easy reference delivered to us through breaking of the fourth wall. You’d better have a good reason for doing it. Deadpool 2 has already run it dry.
When Deadpool 3 comes out, hopefully there’ll be something a bit more interesting to chew upon. But I doubt it.