This year's hit superhero movie isn't for children.
Over Valentine's Day weekend, the new superhero film "Deadpool" reached some pretty high box office numbers, earning $152 million in four days (then a record-setting $11 million more this Tuesday) — higher than the projected $150 million. This shattered records. The movie is now the biggest R-rated opening in history, it lifted the box office to have its biggest ever opening in February, and it led to the biggest President's Day four-day weekend, too.
But there's a problem here. Deadpool is far from the typical superhero movie we've come to expect in the last five or so years. Forget what you know about the Captain America, Iron Man and Thor films. "Deadpool" — a production of 21st Century Fox, which also produces the X-Men movies — is littered with profanity, sexually explicit material and "foul-mouthed" characters.
This hasn't sat well with some reviewers. Will Leitch of The New Republic called the movie "obnoxious and puerile and infantile and has an irritating meta tone so snide that it's constantly in danger of nullifying the entire movie." Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle said the movie "is bad, borderline garbage, but disturbing, too, in that it's just the kind of fake-clever awfulness that might be cinema's future." And Stephen Whitty of the Newark Star-Ledger said though the film is fun, "it's not for everyone, and definitely not for families." It's even been banned in China for nudity and graphic violence.
It also seemed to knock against the Marvel brand, which is owned by — and associated with — Disney, known for making and promoting family-friendly content.
"A really raunchy, very dirty and pretty funny goof on the entire superhero ethos, as well as the first Marvel film to irreverently trash the brand," Todd McCarthy of Hollywood Reporter wrote.
This has put parents in somewhat of a bind. Deadpool is a popular comic book character who has been featured in not only comics but also the Lego Marvel video games and as an action figure in the Marvel Super Hero Squad set of toys.
For some, though, that's one of the benefits of "Deadpool." Many of today's superhero movies cater to children and young teens, whereas this movie bucked the trend and tried to appeal to a more adult audience.
"We're a little bit unapologetic in how raunchy it is because you shouldn't bring your 6-year-old to see this movie. Unless you're a very irresponsible parent," Wernick told Time. But of course, there have been some parents who have taken their children to see the R-rated film (and no, we're not kidding).
"This child and his mother are big viewers of the show, both of them," Randolph told The Huntsville Times. "She has been telling me for quite some time this is a problem, and she keeps telling him, no, and he's so excited about it it's hard for him to accept that."
Her petition has garnered attention from people across the country, getting close to 3,000 signatures. She said not everyone wants to get rid of the R-rated version, but she has been surprised that so many people want a family-friendly cut for their children.
She hopes more signatures will come, along with a new version of the movie.
"I'm trying to save the movie because this is the right creative, business and fan decision, because it allows more people to enjoy the film," Randolph said. "It makes for a smarter movie that doesn't have to rely on F-bombs and nudity for entertainment. You can be funny without that."