Peter Suderman on Deadpool, Blade, and Superhero Movies


20th Century Fox

Deadpool, an outrageous, over-the-top, defiantly vulgar movie about Marvel Comics' wise-cracking, foul-mouthed mercenary hero, made a killing at the box office this weekend, smashing multiple records, including biggest opening for an R-rated film ever (a record previously held by The Matrix Reloaded).

Depending on how it holds up over the next few weeks, it could become the highest-grossing R-rated movie of all time. 

Naturally, there's already a move to copy its most identifiable difference from contemporary superhero movie tradition: its R-rating.

A sequel has already been given the greenlight, and Fox, which owns the rights to the X-Men franchise that Deadpool is part of, has already indicated that the next solo Wolverine film, due next year, will also be rated R. Don't be surprised if you see a lot more R-rated superhero films put in the pipeline. 

In some ways it's a little surprising that it took this long for studios to figure out that there's a market for R-rated hero films. After all, as I note in my column for Vox this week, one of the earliest films of the modern superhero era was Blade, an R-rated take on one of Marvel's grittier, less-known characters. Here's a snippet

Deadpool's clearest divergence from the mainstays of the superhero film comes from its R rating, which is uncommon in a genre that tends to stay pretty strictly within the maximally accessible bounds of the PG-13 rating. And that in itself is a reminder that part of the genesis of the modern wave of superhero films was in an R-rated comic book adaptation: Blade.

Released in August of 1998, Blade wasn't sold as a comic book movie so much as an effects-driven supernatural action film and a star vehicle for the particular talents of its lead actor, Wesley Snipes. And why would it have been?

Aside from the struggling Batman franchise, which at the time was plumbing the depths of cornball irony under the direction of Joel Schumacher, superhero movies weren't really a going concern in Hollywood. Rumors of big-budget comic-based films had circulated for years (James Cameron even wrote a script for a Spider-Man movie), but by the late '90s, comic books themselves increasingly looked like a fad that had passed. The comic book sales bubble that peaked earlier in the decade had popped, with newsstand sales effectively nil and the entire market reduced to a relatively small number of specialty shops. Less than two years earlier, at the end of 1996, Marvel Comics, where the Blade character originated, had filed for bankruptcy.

Read the whole thing. 

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  1. Blade still, I think, had the best hero intro scene. So very 90’s.

  2. Blade is an excellent movie

  3. Man, i enjoyed the hell out of Blade. What a fun movie.

  4. Don’t be surprised if you see a lot more R-rated superhero films put in the pipeline.

    I’m so ready for the superhero movie trend to be over. Fuck.

    1. You are the worst.

      The trend can’t end until there is a Cyborg movie.

      1. I watch a documentary about canon films called electric boogaloo last night and evidently Van Damn re-edited Cyborg to make it watchable.

      2. Also, if you haven’t been reading the new Cyborg comic series, you’re missing out. The first story arc involves people cybernetically enhancing themselves using grey-market technology. Without getting into to much detail, an alien invasion takes advantage of this fact. The main villain that has emerged in this arc is a busybody senator who sponsored regulation to make this market illegal and required all cyborgs to register with the government. Furthermore, he teams up with the military to seize all the assets of STAR Labs, including Cyborg himself because ‘terrorism’ or something.

        1. Oops, I thought you meant Van Dam’s Cyborg.

            1. Well watch Electric Bogaloo anyways. It explains why there are 5 death wish movies.

    2. May its demise usher in the return of the disaster flick.

      1. Well there is the recent San Andreas, which is highly recommended for any…

        Actually, no, I only watched it because of Alexandra Daddario.

        1. I though I wasn’t a breast man. I was wrong. Goddam.

          1. I also recommend Texas Chainsaw 3D (she’s the main character) and True Detective season 1 for her most “revealing” performance.

            1. True Detective


              Even better than the stunt breasts in ‘Gone Girl’.

        2. she’s the best thing going right now. Also Carla Gugino never really gets her due but she is hawt.

          1. Agree on both points.

            I could not have cared less about the Baywatch movie, but then they cast AD and now I’m looking forward to that more than Star Wars 8. (Still haven’t seen Star Wars 7.)

            1. Have you seen SW IV? Then yes you have.

    3. I don’t know. It seems like the trend if finally discovering all the variety there is to be had in the super hero genre. I hope this becomes just another type of film like romance or scifi. Something the major movie maker dip their toes into on a regular basis.

    4. No way. Marvel movies kick ass.

      1. Thank you.

  5. I agree that the first Blade is seriously underrated. That having been said, I think Suderman’s analysis is confused about the true variable in play. While Deadpool is R-rated, I doubt other R-rated comic-book films will have the same success in that Deadpool is R-rated for different reasons than the other films will be. These other films will ramp up the ‘grimdark‘ aesthetic that is currently popular in comic book movies. The same grimdark that fans have already expressed their tired of and rewarded other films like Deadpool and Guardians of the Galaxy, which either lampooned or bucked the trend.

    1. Yep, people want to laugh right now. That being said, GotG and Deadpool both had their serious moments, and if they hadn’t they would have been worse movies for it. Comic book movies need to notice that the most popular of their genre balance their dark parts with light parts.

    2. It’s as though the superhero movie industry is gearing up to make all of the same mistakes that the comic industry did in the late 1980’s and 1990’s.

      1. Hiring Todd McFarlane and Rob Leifeld?

        1. Hiring them was great for the comic industry.

          Indulging them is what ruined the industry.

      2. Well, at least cinematographers can’t screw up basic human anatomy like Rob Liefeld.

        That having been said, a Wetworks movie would be cool.

        1. Just spraypaint the cast of the Expendables 4 gold.

          1. You’d need to seriously fuck up their feet as well.

    3. The studio has confirm that Wolverine 3 will be R-Rated. Not that it means it won’t suck like the other two.

      1. I’m not sure if I liked the first one because it was a good movie, or because my wife practically raped me when we got home from the theater.

        1. Since the first one was terrible, imma say you like being raped.

          1. I said “practically.” After all, you can’t rape the willing.

            1. Just for liking the first one, I can safely assume that you like being pegged.

            2. So we can call you Dominique Francon now?

          2. And yeah, I watched it again on cable and it sucked.

        2. Hugh Jackman? She certainly has a type, doesn’t she?

          1. She certainly has a type, doesn’t she?


      2. It will. There is no reason why Wolverine HAS to be ‘R’. Deadpool HAD to be. They just need better fucking writing. And Directing.

        1. ‘They just need better fucking writing.’
          This. So many movies fail because the story line barely rises to the level of moronic.

    4. Blade 2 (directed by Guillermo del Toro) was excellent as well. Much more my style (although I do need to rewatch the first one again).

      Punisher: War Zone was another one that basically got everything right that the Thomas Jane/John Travolta one did wrong. Wish I had watched it in theaters.

  6. You son of a bitch! I clicked the read the article button and it took me to vox! I live in an echo chamber by choice!

    1. Seriously, no trigger warning?

  7. We are planning to see that movie this weekend. The previews looked really good.

    1. I really enjoyed it. One of the most fun movies I’ve seen in a long time.

      1. As one reviewer said on rotten tomatoes: Don’t take your kids, the sex and violence are too much for em and they’ll wonder what the hell is wrong with you when you’re convulsed up, laughing.

        Seriously, great movie.

        PArt of what people are missing is that it ‘s timed properly; responds to ‘super-hero fatigue’ with a lot of mocking and in-jokes.

        1. My wife liked it too, so it’s not just “guy humor”.

        2. This movie rocked… it was genius.. And Reynolds was a great pick to be Deadpool.

  8. Haven’t bothered seeing Deadpool yet and, the price of going to a movie being what it is, am on the fence about it.

    Anyone who has seen it care to weigh in? I loved Joe Kelly’s Deadpool series from the late 1990’s, and thought Agent X and Cable & Deadpool from the 2000’s were pretty solid, but really haven’t enjoyed anything other writers’ take on the character.

    1. The preview for Deadpool was the best part of the new Star Wars movie.

    2. Disclaimer: I knew nothing about deadpool the character going in, so it could stomp all over his origins so I can’t speak to that. I loved the movie just because it was ultraviolent and funny and well paced. I had a blast watching it.

      1. Florida Johnson is right!

        I’m in the same boat. I’ll also add that it has by far best romance in any Marvel movie. It is in fact better than all of them put together, if quality has an additive property.
        The scope is refreshingly small, too. Villain is nasty but not world-threatening, and Deadpool is chasing him for selfish reasons. Who funded the villain? Was there someone higher up? Is he part of some kind of conspiracy? Maybe, but, because Deadpool doesn’t care, movie never gets sidetracked into exploring it.

    3. The opening credits to Deadpool were better than most movies I’ve seen recently.

      1. At least you didn’t say that the soundtrack was all dreamy…..

  9. Deadpool is overexposed and not that funny to begin with in the comics. And I have never seen a good movie with Ryan Reynolds in it. Deadpool will be the one superhero movie that I have no doubts about skipping.

    1. Aw, come on. Green Lantern wasn’t terrible. Well, actually it kinda was.

      1. 2 Things:
        1) He just isn’t a superhero. Deadpool is as close as he can get. Green Lantern? No way.
        2) Green Lantern is like the Fantastic Four — it doesn’t translate to the screen. His powers, at least, aren’t worthless like 1/2 the FF, but they are hard to make a movie with.

        1. Green Lantern is like the Fantastic Four — it doesn’t translate to the screen.

          You know what other comic they said wouldn’t translate to the screen?

          1. Black Widow? Because they’d be right. Superman? They aren’t wrong there either. All 7 Superman movies suck differently, with Superman III being the least worst.

            Sorry. I actually like the cartoon version of the Green Lantern story where he teams up with the Justice League. It works great there.

            1. The correct answer was “anything by Alan Moore”.

              1. Eh. I think he had the scope right. His frames were basically used in the adaptations, right? From there you can just strip out enough sub-plots to make a film. Green Lantern is pretty ill-defined. Some of that is that he has no easily defined nemesis. Iron Man should have the same problem, but RDJ’s portrayal of Stark just kind of pulled them past that.

                1. His frames were basically used in the adaptations, right?

                  For Watchmen and From Hell, yes. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen? Hell no.

                  1. And which one of those sucked? League was terrible. Just horrible. Nemo was about the only decent character in the movie.

                    1. Right. That’s my point.

                  2. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

                    That was like someone told someone else about the comic and that person then pitched it for someone else to write.

                    “Did you even look at the source material?”

                    “Dude, I don’t read comics!”

            2. Actually I think MOS was very cool. And the original would have been epic if they producers didn’t seriously fuck over Donner.

            3. You could do Black Widow, either as a period piece or focusing on her as Cold War relic.

              1. Eh. I don’t think it can carry a movie. She’s wrong-sized. Any villain she could fight would be puny enough that the best you could do is a Jason Bourne style beat’em up. Does the comic book Black Widow have some compelling story-lines? Sure. Can you boil any of them down to an interesting 110 minutes without doing to her what movies did to Bourne? I don’t believe so.

        2. Green Lantern does seem like it would be difficult to adapt for live-action, but the animated series was surprisingly good.

          1. In the Deadpool movie Reynolds makes fun of both Green Lantern and his previous incarnation of the sort of Deadpool character from the Wolverine origins movie. It’s hilarious.

            1. Still not gonna see it.

              1. Your loss. You don’t even have to be a comic book fan to like this movie. There’s a reason it broke the record for biggest opening EVER for an R-rated film, and it wasn’t because of all of the comic book nerds.

                1. ^^This.

                  Seriously. I had tears in my eyes.

                  Ferris Bueller ending was a nice touch, too.

        3. I tend to agree. Ryan Reynolds IS Wade Wilson aka Deadpool. If there is a comic role he was born for, that was it. But there is no way in The Nine Realms that Ryan Reynolds is ANYTHING like Hal Jordan. That was probably the most miscast comic book movie in modern superhero filmdom. (George Clooney as Batman takes a close second, but I don’t acknowledge the Schumaker Batman movies anyway. They are dead to me!)

          I think Green Lantern could be done, but ONLY after setting up Superman, Batman, WW etc. for the Justice League arc. Get the audience on board first with Batman (more realistic), Superman (well known, and everybody likes Superman), Wonder Woman (she’s hot!). Then go to the more fantastic heroes.

          It is like what DC did with CW. Start with one of the more “realistic” (in terms of no superpowers, magic, or sci-fi) in Green Arrow. Then once the audience has bought in, go to Flash, which sets up the metahumans. Once you’ve accomplished that, then time-travel etc. becomes acceptable. Hell, Arrow even has magic now.

          1. Val Kilmer would have a word with you.

            1. Val was not nearly as bad as Clooney.

              If Reynolds was going to be a GL, he should have been intro’d later as Guy Gardner.

              Hal Jordan needs to be played by someone with a stick up their ass.

              1. That is EXACTLY my point!! Hal Jordan was the fucking opposite of a dry, sarcastic goof like Ryan Reynolds. Which is why Ryan Reynolds, at least from a personality standpoint, IS Wade Wilson.
                Like in Injustice, i could see somebody like Adam Baldwin maybe (since he can play the dumb oaf like Jane, or a straight arrow),

                I have to admit, i was going to fucking rebel against DC when they announced Ben Affleck. But, at least in the trailer, he is making me a believer. But, I still think Gal Gadot is WAY too small and petite for WW. And it will be hard for me to see anyone other than Grant Gustin as the Flash going forward. Although Jason Momoa, even though he isn’t blonde, was a bold choice for Aquaman. I think he could be awesome for that.

        4. FF would be a lot more fun to take them back to the campy 60s origin period and make an origin flick in the original time/place – use classic costumes, tech, etc.

    2. When written well, Deadpool can be pretty awesome, but the same can be said about nearly any character. (See, for example, Peter David on characters like Layla Miller and Shatterstar, vs. every other version of them).

    3. Van Wilder is IMO funnier than many post-2000 comedies, including some that have been huge hits (especially the overrated Hangover).

      Definitely skip RIPD, though.

      1. Who uh, who didn’t skip RIPD?

        1. Me. I was drunk and bored, and there was nothing else on.

          1. Was all the paint dry on your walls and your lawn not growing? Just kidding. I’ll watch bad movies just to see how bad they are sometimes.

        2. Lou Reed?

          1. Because he’s busy working on a new album?

        3. There’s this friend of mine who used to watch around 8 Netflix DVDs per month, and sometimes he had to put junk on his queue just in case the movies he really wanted were on “Very Long Wait.”

        4. Hitler?

    4. If you didn’t like Deadpool in the comics then definitely don’t see the movie because it’s pretty much exactly like the character and stories from the comic.

      Which is why I loved it SO MUCH.

      Easily the best anti-movie in years, and it absolutely skewers every other super hero movie out there, and it takes plenty of digs at the Xmen franchise in wonderful ways. Reynolds is awesome, Baccaria is awesome and also fucking insanely hot, and the fight scenes are beautifully choreographed so that you can follow the action easily.

      If you don’t like this movie it’s because you don’t like to have R-rated fun at the movies. There. I said it.

      1. Baccaria is awesome and also fucking insanely hot

        I’ll be in my bunk.

        1. There’s a sex montage between Reynolds and Baccaria that is one of the funniest love scenes in any movie I’ve ever seen.

          1. Don’t spoil it! But yeah, it’s awesome.

      2. the fight scenes are beautifully choreographed so that you can follow the action easily

        Aw, that’s unfortunate, I actually like incoherent shaky-cam.


      3. Except… I don’t like superhero movies so what fun would I get in the skewering of a bunch of movies I’ve never seen?

        I’m all for the comeback of the R-rated movie but this isn’t the one I want to see.

        1. Do you like violence? Sex sciences? Comedy? Then you might like it.

          1. I am all about the sex sciences. Those other things, too.

      4. Baccarin, not Baccaria!

        And yes, she’s awesome. I’m glad someone finally gave her a prominent role where she got to do comedy. On Firefly it was obvious that she’s got great comedic timing, but she almost never got to do it, because being exotic and acting like immature brat with Mal (which, to be fair, he reciprocated) was much more important.

  10. The comic book sales bubble that peaked earlier in the decade had popped, with newsstand sales effectively nil and the entire market reduced to a relatively small number of specialty shops.

    Dammit! Just when I had buried the memories of liquidating my collection at a loss…

    1. You have a comic collection?

      *tskes deep breath*


  11. I guess they finally realized that a lot of adults like superheroes and comic books too.

  12. I love Negasonic Teenage Warhead.

  13. For the longest time, horror titles dominated comic books. DC probably had a dozen horror titles, Mavel only had a few, most notable House of Dracula, where Blade came from.

    Blade was a comic book movie, but not really a superhero movie. Yeah, he was a half-vampire, but that wasn’t really the focus of it.

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    All we need is a mobile or PC with a very good internet connection. There are many applications by which we can enjoy videos, our missed programs, live streaming etc.

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