The Deadpool movie was exactly what I hoped the Deadpool movie would be: a combination of its already existing postmodern qualities like self-referential, breaking the fourth wall, ripping itself and anything else of its kind apart. And yet, I feel that it was dangerous of me to ask for it to be that way, even though it seems inevitable that it would be that way.
Deadpool was so perfectly postmodernist that it is terrifying. It terrifies me because now studio execs will assume that the best way to sell a movie is for it to be self-aware and that it’s called ‘having a sense of humour’ which taken to an extreme (as I expect studio execs to do so out of desperation) to develop into just movies that do nothing but refer the shit out of each other and itself. It’ll break itself apart and literally navel gaze.
Deadpool was released at a perfect time. A time where everybody is making superhero movies, we needed an anti-superhero movie to create reflection among creators and audience. And yet I feel that the problem with studio execs taking the wrong lesson out of this has less to do with trying to adopt the same formula (which is what they’d do anyway) but that it will allow the audience to feel that this is acceptable entertainment, which I feel it isn’t completely because it creates sadists out of them. I don’t mean sadist as in enjoying vulgarity or violence on screen literally, I mean that it’ll teach audiences that it is okay to navel gaze and not actually sit down to watch a story.
Instead, this is peak postmodernism where people are stepping into the movie to experience it. Deadpool barely has a story, and comes across as a bag full of opportunities to make references to things outside its canon – i.e. its canon is everything inside and outside of the film. Deadpool was like a bestseller novel, enjoyable only during a certain period of time. I enjoyed it, but I fear the legacy or impression it has.
The implication of a film like this releasing has prompted me to have fearful predictions for the film industry because they prompt me to think about what happens after post-modernism. Do we revert back to structured stories? Probably not, because post-modernist storylines give so much freedom that nobody would want to let go of it. But do we continue to just make movie responses to other movies like advertisements about other advertisements instead of promoting the product? It is frightening and beautiful at the same time.
Author: Nivedita Nair
Nivedita is studying Film and Political Science at Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts, Pune.