Deadpool and the Genius Marketing Campaign

In 2009 X-Men Origins: Wolverine was released to a wave of disappointment.  The film featured a poorly conceived plot and stale action pieces that failed to capture the excitement, savagery and fury that a Wolverine solo film could and should deliver (seven years later and still waiting, btw).  Several other characters appeared, including a young  Cyclops, Gambit making his big screen debut and a re-imagined Sabretooth, with some faring better than others in fan and audience reception.  Wade Wilson aka Deadpool also appeared, albeit in name only.  The ‘Merc with a mouth’ was turned into a brainwashed, muted character that not even Ryan Reynolds’ enthusiasm for the role could save.  In fact the closest we get to a true version of Deadpool is Reynolds’ few smart quips during one of the opening scenes.  Not even the costumes, both early in the film when he wears a similar red colour to his comic book counterpart or later when he’s half naked and bald, or even his powers are truly translated to screen.

After years of living in development hell, it now seems that a ‘true’ version of Deadpool is about to hit screens.  A version that brings with it humour, gore, violence, explicit language and a fourth-wall breaking attitude unlike anything put on the screen before.  The marketing campaign has focused on all of this, letting fans know that this translation from star Ryan Reynolds and director Tim Miller will bring forth the ‘real’ Deadpool while also informing non-fans of what to expect.

The first hint of this came in an early test reel, footage made in order to get the full production green-lit by studio Twentieth Century Fox.  The footage, while rough, showed the mix of action, violence and humour the film-makers wanted to portray on the big screen and was soon leaked to the public, garnering a positive reaction from a very vocal fan base.  People wanted to see this made into a feature film and their wish was soon granted but would a financially-focused movie studio allow for an R-rated superhero film that could alienate a potential mass-market?

The answer to that is yes, although the confirmation of the R-rating was playfully revealed via an elaborate April’s fool prank last year.  First up were a series of tweets beginning with Ryan Reynolds saying discussions were being held and then tweets saying that, despite a PG-13 rating, the character would still be true to the comics.

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Then came an exclusive interview between Extra’s Mario (AC Slater) Lopez and Ryan Reynolds with an uncomfortable Reynolds squirming at the mention of his X-Men Origins appearance and Lopez being over-enthusiastic about the lower rating.

Then Deadpool appeared…

And killed Mario Lopez.

(He didn’t really so relax Saved by the Bell fans).

This short clip summed up what we can expect- R-rated violence and a self-aware protagonist.

Up next was the teaser trailer with Ryan Reynolds himself- a ‘five-time Academy Award viewer’- mocking the previous incarnation and even taking shots at Twentieth Century Fox (‘the studio that inexplicably sewed his fucking mouth shut the first time’).

Then we had the first full trailer, followed more recently by additional trailers and multiple TV spots.  The first trailer (red band of course) is below and feel free to locate the rest yourself.

Straight away Reynolds quips about cancer, begs that his super-suit isn’t ‘green…or animated’ and compares a female character to Rosie O’Donnell but ‘less angry’.  Humour and meta-humour and pop culture references within the first minute help establish the tone of the movie while the following bloody action scenes are unlike anything we’ve seen from the superhero genre since the Blade trilogy.  We also get some inventive descriptive language such as Deadpool looking like a ‘testicle with teeth’ and sounding ‘like you’ve got a dick in your mouth’.

Other trailers enhanced what we already saw- more violence, more language, more humour.  Highlights include Deadpool’s brilliant reaction to the young hero Negasonic Teenage Warhead’s name and Reynold’s acting as the trailer’s voice-over…in character.  Yes, Deadpool knows he’s in a movie in the same way he always knew he was in a comic book.

Christmas brought with it the ’12 Days of Deadpool’ which saw a different website posting new info about the movie every day before a second trailer landed on December 25th.  Recently we’ve seen an array of movie posters which have varied from quoting classic films to simple innuendo, all keeping us aware of the film’s humour and its positioning as a different type of superhero.  Reynolds himself has even shared fan-made posters and the Deadpool Facebook page continues promoting the film, currently sharing images of our Regenerating Degenerate holding signs including ‘Ugh.  Monday.  I’m calling in sick from my boss’s girlfriend’s house’.  Plus a recent video celebrating Australia Day featured the character taking another dig at his previous film appearance (as reported previously here).

Some fans were even lucky enough to view the film early when they went to an advanced screening which was advertised as showing new footage before revealing to the seated crowd that the whole movie would be shown.  These fans were allowed to express their opinions on twitter and the tweets were overwhelmingly positive.

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Deadpool the character has, at least from what we have seen so far, translated perfectly from page to screen.  Given the predicted opening weekend numbers ($55 million) anticipation is high and one can only hope Deadpool can deliver.  Certainly the marketing department has done a grand job, appeasing not only the fans but appealing to a wider audience by offering a unique, different superhero movie.

I’ll be seeing the film at 7.15pm on Friday 12th February and will review shortly after.

Check out the official movie site here.

 

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