Deadpool came out this past week. It’s a movie that’s been in development hell for the past decade, only given the green light after leaked test footage featuring Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool at his best somehow made its way onto the internet. And the rest became cinematic history.
Deadline.com reported that at the end of its 10-day run after opening night the movie has brought in a net total profit of 235.8 million. The takings for the opening weekend have gutted previous Marvel films, proving that perhaps superhero films aren’t just for children.
In fact, Deadpool, which in the US has earned an R rating, has decidedly proven that a superhero film made for adults can be extremely profitable, possibly something that will effect decisions in the future for other Marvel and DC productions. Previous films appeared scared to stray away from the ever-reliable PG-13 label that encourages a child friendly viewing.
Deadline.com also reported that the audience statistics rate that men comprise 64% of the audience, and females comprising 36%. A statistic that proves, amongst countless others, that being female does not discourage you from enjoying a film about a superhero. Or, Deadpool’s case, a film about a dude that enjoys beating the crap out of people for money.
Women had an 86% approval score for the film, while men were only just ahead with 90%. Personally, I loved the film. I’ve been reading the comics for years, and was particularly excited when the first trailer came out. I spent months eagerly anticipating the release, and I went at the first chance I had – all while cackling to myself as I picked out all the easter eggs scattered throughout the film.
Which is why I was so disheartened to see one of the most prominent pieces of marketing for the film revolve around tricking your girlfriend into seeing it.
Oddly enough star of the film, Ryan Reynolds had a lot to say on the matter of making superhero films appeal to women. In a recent press conference during the promotion of the film, he was adamant that it was clear women loved superhero films, with quotes such as: “Women love fucking superhero movies! Clearly they go to these films.”
Why encourage men to fool their girlfriends into seeing a superhero film with then? Personally, I’ve always been a bigger fan than any guy I’ve dated (and most I have met) when it comes to comics/comic book movies. I even tricked some men into coming to see the first Avengers film with me.
A friend and I have a standing date to watch every Marvel film because we believe that only each other can appreciate it enough. I sat through all of the recent Fantastic Four (I’m sorry, Fantstic. Pro tip; making the title seem edgy does not stop a film from sucking) when every part of my being urged me to get up and walk out, but I felt my love of Johnny Storm meant I should at least try and see if it improved at any point.
Spoiler, it did not.
The common idea throughout society is that comics are for males. More precisely, the types of males portrayed in a show such as The Big Bang Theory. Not being a fan of the show, I’ve only seen the odd episode here and there. But from what I have seen, it appears that in the universe of the show, women appearing in the local comic book store are cause for shock from the male customers. Even the female characters that are portrayed as scientists, as smart and intelligent, are still not allowed to enjoy comics as passionately as the male characters.
This stereotype, of the nerdy, male comic book collector is still seen as reality. While the truth couldn’t be further from it. The Guardian reported during 2015 that data obtained from Facebook, had women sitting at almost 43% of self-proclaimed comic book readers. And yet, studios still have the notion that this genre of movies are for males, which for females to enjoy one requires a form of romance involved. Hell, romance or no romance, I still would have gone to see Deadpool beat on people and make snarky comments for a few hours.
So, seeing Ryan Reynolds (an actor that is so perfect for the role that I probably would have boycotted the movie if it had been made without him), seeing him approve of and more so, encourage male fans to ‘trick’ their girlfriends into seeing the film was utterly crushing. This was a film I’ve been waiting – possibly as long as Ryan Reynolds – to see made. I have memories of such excitement at seeing Reynolds as Deadpool in the previews for X-Men Origins: Wolverine. (Ah, how young and naïve I was).
And here was the marketing for a proper, real Deadpool film (at long last), telling me – and others like me – that it just wasn’t for us. That the only way I would attend it was if a boyfriend or date fooled me into seeing it. By the pretence that it was a love story, a romantic film for Valentine’s Day. Because, according to the studios that make the choices for marketing regarding superhero films, women only respond to romance. Even the movie itself contains the opening line “You must be thinking, my boyfriend told me this is a superhero movie…”
So, why the praise for Ryan Reynolds? Because he said something that countless women have been trying to say for years? That the possession of a female pronoun immediately makes superhero films not for you? Yes, Reynolds spoke up; he made a valid and truthful point. But he still endorsed the frankly prejudiced and outdated marketing techniques that were used for the film.