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Deadpool: How It Raises the Bar for Creating Powerful Content

Deadpool. A $58 million budget used to make a superhero film that made over $783 million at the box-office worldwide. It did not take long for 20th Century Fox to greenlight the development of a follow-up sequel – especially since moviegoers started demanding a sequel after seeing the film for the first of multiple times on the big screen.

The highly-anticipated sequel is less than 2 weeks away from its theatrical release on May 18th with fans and critics eagerly waiting for their big-screen reunion with the antihero who broke the mold of superhero movies nearly 2 years ago.

However, when was the last time you took a moment to truly think about just how successful Deadpool was when it was first released? As content creators, it is vital to dissect and examine all forms of high-quality content to derive lessons that can be applied to your own content development and marketing strategies. What lessons can be learned by Deadpool? Taking a closer look at what Deadpool accomplished will allow those profound lessons to rain down on you the like the bullets in the infamous Deadpool 2/Flash Dance promo poster:


It’s always a gamble to take a risk when your main character consistently breaks the fourth wall to speak directly to the audience. A relatively short list of characters has been able to pull it off – including Michael Caine in Alfie, Woody Allen in Annie Hall, Ferris Bueller in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and even Zack Morris in a vast number of Saved by the Bell episodes.

However, there have also warning examples of how not to do it – such as Jude Law in the Alfie remake. Ryan Reynold’s masked performance in Deadpool spoke volumes to filmmakers – proving that it can be done the right way and appeal to this generation’s attention-deficit audiences.

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Lesson Learned: “Do what others don’t successfully and get the win that others won’t.” Creative content that emerges from the stereotypical box that entraps a growing number of content creators and marketers is a gamble. If done incorrectly, it could blow up in your face and cause you to lose everything.

However, if done correctly, it could revolutionize your online presence and captivate the attention of viewers and readers that may have overlooked you in the past. Doing so will also inspire others to follow in your footsteps. For instance, think about how different the performances in the Oscar-winning film I, Tonya would have been without the main characters breaking the fourth wall periodically throughout the movie.


Deadpool was a solid example of a film that followed its own rules.

  • It was basically a dead project overlooked by studio execs until test footage from an impressive CGI car scene voiced by Ryan Reynolds was leaked on the Internet. 20th Century Fox had no choice but to pay attention when that footage went viral. By the way (for those who didn’t already know) that test footage became the groundwork of the opening scene and title sequence of the actual movie.


  • Deadpool decided to make an R-rating acceptable for superhero fans again – especially after the epic backfire and disastrous outcome of The Punisher movie franchise that shared its rating. By doing so, it peaked interest in other superhero franchises that wanted to release gritter content (such as the Extended Cut of Batman v Superman or the Oscar-nominated Logan.)


  • Deadpool was not afraid to attack itself and its leading star with hilarious jokes and punchlines. From the Ryan Reynolds People magazine cover in the title sequence to the seemingly endless jokes about Ryan’s career and the epic bomb Green Lantern, Ryan beautifully made himself the butt of major jokes and comic references throughout the movie. In an awkward yet artistic way, that worked beautifully and went a long way in keeping the audience entertained and engaged!


Lesson Learned: If you always color within the lines, your art will blend in instead of standing out. Chances are that your market is already saturated with similar content creators that want to target the same topic. To survive and thrive, you must find a way to go beyond those boundaries and make your own rules for what powerful and engaging content can achieve more than what it has already has achieved. As you develop your content marketing strategy, always focus on what will work for your audience today – not what worked for them in the past.


Even after 20th Century Fox decided to greenlight the Deadpool movie, there is an extensive list of other actors that they could have gotten to play Wade Wilson on the big-screen. Just because it was a longtime passion project for Ryan Reynolds does not necessarily mean they were “required” to suit him up as the witty masked mercenary. Why not? In the world of superhero movies, Ryan did not have a solid track record. As referenced above, he was essentially a laughingstock in that regard.

He turned heads with his supporting role in Blade: Trinity primarily because of the physical transformation that he experienced while preparing for the role – a transformation that played an integral role in the star power that he has today due to the roles that he was able to secure in the aftermath of that film. However, in his other superhero Marvel/DC movies, he was viewed as the butt of the jokes. From the bald android with swords and a stitched mouth in X-Men Origins: Wolverine to the CGI suit-wearing hero in the DC bomb Green Lantern, it would have been easy for studio execs to view Ryan Reynolds as damaged goods and move on with a different actor.

By deciding to go “against the grain”, they were able to discover a cinematic treasure in Ryan Reynolds that was covered in trashy circumstances from his previous film – a decision that helped lead them to a $780 million jackpot.

Lesson Learned: A mess from your past can be viewed as amazing in your future if transformed correctly! You likely have at least one post or concept from the past that was absolute garbage. Perhaps it never made it past your mental “cutting room floor” because of how bad you thought it would be if it did. On the other hand, you may have published it and watching it crash & burn firsthand. Either way, today’s audience may see it in a different light than those who saw it in the past. The world may be ready to cherish today what they would have immediately trashed yesterday. Never be afraid to take your past content back to the drawing board and breathe new life into it for a new day. You never know what may come about because of your “dumpster-digging” efforts!

Annie Ianko

Chief Content Geek

Annie has over 20 years of experience as an editor and content creator and manager. With work in television and written media, she has dedicated her past 10 years to learning the ropes of online content creation, from writing to editing, from SEO to content management.

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