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Marvel, Fox, Explore Marvel Sleaze With “Deadpool”

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While Deadpool featuring actor Ryan Reynolds has hit big box-office numbers for a February release, it remains uncertain whether or not an R-rated Marvel franchise has much to offer movie-goers on a long-term basis.

Deadpool is Marvel’s experiment in producing a comic on the edge of sleaze. As pre-adolescent fans of Spidey, Hulk, Captain American and Iron Man grew older, the possibility opened up for Marvel to test out a raunchier super-hero who lived on the wrong side of the tracks. They kept their signature motif of alliterations with this new dude named Wade Wilson, but broke almost every other mold the publisher had established.

deadpool reyan reynolds movie spoonClark Kent (Superman) was a WASP from the Midwest. Bruce Wayne (Batman) represented old money from the east. But the rest of Marvel’s heroic cast including Peter Parker (Spiderman), Dr. Bruce Banner (the Incredible Hulk), Steve Rogers (Captain America), where all from middle-class or privileged families.

Introduced in 1991, Wade Wilson was something entirely different. Marvel Universe Wiki says his father was “a teller of bad jokes,” who abandoned his family. His mother resorted to alcohol, humor and the shopping networks in order to cope. Wilson, with few prospects, went into the U.S. Army and joined a special ops task force. When he came out, he was damaged goods – unstable, jobless, wise-cracking and bitter.

The movie picks up from there. Wilson frequents low-life bars in a nameless city and falls in love with a woman who works at a strip club. But, just as he and his girl get engaged, he is diagnosed with cancer that quickly hits his lungs, brain and a few other vital organs.

Wilson decides to leave his fiance so she can remember him during the good times and ends up in the hands of a hustler who tells him he can cure his cancer at the expense of giving him super powers. Wilson takes him up on the offer, then ends up in a corrupt dungeon-like hospital that is really a torture chamber operated by a power-seeking mad scientist. This man can cure him, and does. But to do so, Wilson is given a serum, then tortured, which triggers a mutation response that leaves Wilson horribly disfigured (OK, that’s bad), but able to heal almost immediately from any injury (which is good).

Perhaps sensing that the audience needed a cheap reason to like this guy, Marvel made Deadpool out to be the star comic in its line up. This likely meant Marvel didn’t have the writing talent to back up this complicated character’s plot line, so they went for the easy out. It turned a potentially radical new hero into a vaudevillian clown. And this works sometimes, and falls flat just as often.

To pull this off on the big screen, 20th Century Fox and director Tim Miller turn to Reynolds to star as Deadpool, except for the point that it was Reynolds, according to many news stories, that lobbied hard for the film to be made. The key argument was that Reynolds believed he could pull off an R-rated Marvel movie. And box office numbers say that this is a big success – a film made for $58 million that has already earned several times that much.

But not so fast. Reynolds may well be just the narcissist to pull off the role of a red-suited, irreverent hero. After all, he made his mark in the movies as a master of narcissistic deadpan in teen-oriented romance comedies and has been struggling to find a grown-up character that can make use of this talent. Enter Deadpool – a movie with the tag line “Wait ’til you get a load of me.” In a post-opening interview, Reynolds is quoted as saying – with a beaming picture next to this – that “Wade Wilson is an alter-ego for me.”

That’s maybe too much “me.” In the film, Deadpool is a character who cannot stop with the jokes, proving in spades that your biggest strength is your biggest weakness. Yes, he can be funny (which is good), but enough with the damn jokes, already. This is a guy who tries to be funny while bad guy brains are being splattered across the screen in slow motion and while proposing to his fiance. There are jokes that land and jokes that don’t. After a while, however, it just looks narcissistic and desperate, especially when the script has him repeating jokes that weren’t even funny in a elementary school playground, where most of us first heard them.

Bottom line: From trailers I saw, I dreaded seeing Deadpool. However, I ended up enjoying the film far more than I thought I would. The idea that heroes aren’t always middle-class white folks reciting the U.S. Constitution and the Ten Commandments sounds far more interesting than I first assumed.

This is a hero who isn’t very noble, which means he will have to walk a fine line in future films between good, bad and indifferent. That could be worth pursuing. But leaning on the Reynolds/Deadpool’s comic touch? If that is his signature feature, look out; It also might be his Achilles heel.

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Izzy

Movie Magic: The De-Aging Technique of The Irishman

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Robert DeNiro de-agedHave you read Izzy yet? If so, you know that Izzy makes the apples that give the Gods their youth and immortality. It also seems Robert De Niro discovered one of Izzy’s apples too… In Martin Scorsese’s upcoming biographical film, he stars as Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, a labor union leader and alleged hitman for the Bufalino crime family. The trailer for the movie, which will premieres NEXT WEEK (!), also features a “de-aged” De Niro. “We’re so used to watching them as the older faces,” Scorsese said in an interview on the A24 podcast. “Does it change the eyes at all? …If that’s the case, what was in the eyes that I liked? Was it intensity? Was it gravitas? Was it threat?…How do we get that? I don’t know.” Some might consider this magic and I for one can’t wait to see the impact of Izzy’s apples on screen for myself. ????

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“Captain Marvel” Retains Top Slot at the Box Office

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It’s no surprise that in its second weekend, the first Marvel Cinematic Universe of 2019 is still riding high. Captain Marvel, the latest in the MCU with Brie Larson starring as the lead, generated another $69 million over the weekend, placing its domestic total at $266 million. Tallying up the international box office, the film’s global total to date is $760 million. Despite the online controversy, the film is looking to be another strong box office smash for Disney and Marvel.

As for the premieres for the weekend, and there were plenty, they were all over the map. Just below Captain Marvel was the animated adventure Wonder Park, bringing in $16 million, another film with controversy when the director’s name was removed from the picture after sexual harassment charges. Five Feet Apart, the dying teen drama about a romance amid cystic fibrosis, only came in at #3 with a weekend gross of $13 million. And debuting the lowest in the top 10 for debuts was Captive State, a sci-fi dystopian tale, only making $3 million. The film debuted so low the little film No Manches Frida 2 was able to sneak about it at #6 with a gross of $3.8 million.

Drops were fairly low all around for the returning films, mostly because Captain Marvel was dominating the previous weekend. The only milestone worth noting is that The LEGO Movie 2, after six weeks at the box office, finally cracked $100 million. And the sun is now setting on Green Book’s post-Oscar run by coming in at #10 for the final weekend of its top 10 run over the past few weeks.

View the full top ten weekend box office results below:

Captain Marvel ($69,318,000)

Wonder Park ($16,000,000)

Five Feet Apart ($13,150,000)

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($9,345,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($8,085,000)

No Manches Frida 2 ($3,894,000)

Captive State ($3,163,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($2,135,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($1,900,000)

Green Book ($1,277,000)

Next weekend, Captain Marvel may very well have some competition when Jordan Peele’s new horror film Us hits over 3,600 theaters.

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“Dragon” Continues To Soar, “Funeral” Close Behind, “Green Book” Back

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With little competition for the weekend, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, the third in the animated fantasy saga, was able to secure the box office once more. In its second weekend, the animated epic made $30 million to push its domestic total to $97 million. So far the film has done about the same as the previous film and is on track to stay in the top 10 for a few more weeks in March.

Debuts this weekend were small with one big exception. Tyler Perry’s latest Madea film, A Madea Family Funeral, naturally made a relatively big splash with its dedicated audience. Starting at #2, the film made $27 million for its first weekend. No word on the budget yet but it’s most likely on a budget as most Tyler Perry productions are, so it’s safe to call this a success, especially for debuting with a box office so close to Dragon.

The rest of the premieres were not as strong at all. Greta, the new thriller starring Chloe Moretz, debuted all the way down at #8 with $4.5 million box office. To be fair, however, the film was in a constant battle for its spot as three other films also reported earnings around $4 million for the weekend. Of note, Green Book, fresh off winning the Academy Award for Best Picture one weekend ago, splashed back into more theaters to arise even higher in the top 10 with its domestic total now sitting at $73 million. Don’t count on it remaining there long as bigger blockbusters will be swooping as we plow through the last remnants of winter movies.

Check out the full listing of the top 10 box office weekend results below:

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($30,046,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($27,050,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($7,000,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($6,615,000)

Green Book ($4,711,000)

Fighting With My Family ($4,691,284)

Isn’t it Romantic ($4,645,000)

Greta ($4,585,000)

What Men Want ($2,700,000)

Happy Death Day 2U ($2,516,000)

Next weekend is once again all about Marvel as their latest superhero solo film, Captain Marvel, will be appearing in 4,100 theaters.

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