Deadpool: A New Class of Superhero

Deadpool is a Marvel superhero movie released in 2016.  Among Marvel’s super hero movies, Deadpool stands out for a number of reasons. First of all, it’s one of few superhero movies to be rated R. It was also released in February – a contrast to the time Marvel typically releases its superhero movies, usually reserved for the height of the summer blockbuster season. Despite these disadvantages and its relatively low budget, Deadpool managed to break records internationally and domestically. It was the 9th grossing film of 2016, the highest grossing world-wide R-rated film of all time, and the highest grossing X-Men film. Much of its success can be attributed to its specific brand of humor that blends tongue-in-cheek with the outrageous and the occasional sledgehammer blow to the fourth wall. This humor was exemplified in their marketing campaign and can be seen in all their posters leading up to the film’s release.

One campaign that got the most attention was their emoji posters. A skull and a poop emoji and capital L were meant to convey dead-poo-l, but many people jokingly misread it as “skullpoopl”, which lead to the release of the second banner. The posters don’t take themselves seriously at all, which is par for the course for the character of Deadpool.

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Furthermore, there were some billboards that tried to position Deadpool as a romantic movie because of its release date’s close proximity to Valentine’s Day. While there is a romantic subplot in the movie, it is far overshadowed by the violent, revenge fueled rampage of the titular character; a far cry from your stereotypical Valentine’s Day film someone might expect from a poster like this. People familiar with the character and the movie’s premise, however, found the irony humorous, adding to the good-will generated by the movie’s pre-release marketing campaign.

The rest of the posters are built upon clever wordplay and humor that toes the line without becoming too crude or off-putting. Deadpool knew its target audience well (younger males), and knew how to speak to them in their own languages. It was the first super hero movie to really break the mold, not take itself seriously, and was rewarded for its risk. Only time will tell if Marvel will be able build on its success.

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