How Deadpool is Changing the Movie Marketing Game

The movie industry has changed drastically over the past decade or so. The most successful movies tend to be big, spectacular movies, usually based on something that was done before. No genre has benefitted from this change more than the superhero/comic book movies. There have always been superhero movies, but this current run began with 2000’s X-Men. Since then, we’ve seen more, bigger, and more successful superhero movies each year.

This year will see the debut* of an unlikely superhero movie star: Deadpool. The character was originally created by Rob Liefeld in 1991’s New Mutants #98. He was developed to be a combination of Marvel’s two most popular characters, Spider-Man and Wolverine. Writer Joe Kelly took the humor to new levels starting in 1997. Over the years, Deadpool has had ups and downs in his comic book publishing success, but he has been a completely unique character (until the recent incarnation of Harley Quinn). Deadpool often breaks the fourth wall and points out the absurdity of his situations.

This “super hero” movie is facing an obstacle that other super hero movies don’t have to contend with: an R rating. Because of this, the studio has to find new and unique ways to promote Deadpool. Relying on a McDonald’s tie in, and a wall of toys in the toy aisle aren’t an option for a movie aimed at an older audience.

After the failed attempt to bring Deadpool to the silver screen in 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, teams were assembled to start working on a full Deadpool feature film. In 2011 Tim Miller was hired to direct the film, and some test footage was shot, but the project ended up stalling.

Cut to July 2014 and the test footage was finally leaked and the internet went crazy! The studio could no longer ignore the demand for the Merc with a Mouth. In September of that year, 20th Century Fox announced that the Deadpool movie was finally coming to the big screen.

Seeing how this movie was driven by online fan response, Fox has been using innovative techniques to promote the film. Every aspect of the film has been an “event.” Here we see when star Ryan Reynolds announces the rating of the movie.

When the studio finally showed Ryan Reynolds in his full Deadpool costume, he was laying on a bearskin rug. Not your average superhero movie reveal.

Leading up to the big Christmas day trailer reveal, the studio announced the 12 Days of Deadpool (AKA the other jolly guy in a red suit with a lap worth sitting on)

Day 1 featured a new poster on

Day 2 allowed viewers to tell Deadpool what they wanted for Christmas

Day 3 showed Deadpool’s Home Alone-esque plan

Day 4 let everyone know what Deadpool wanted for Christmas

Day 5 showed off Deadpool’s version of an ugly Christmas sweater

Day 6 was Deadpool’s notes on a scene from the script

Day 7 was the note that Deadpool is including in his Christmas cards

Day 8 was a unique set of emojis. Emoji: not just for young girls anymore.

Day 9 gave us a teaser for Deadpool in IMAX

Day 10: In the tradition of fireplace videos, we get Deadpool’s version: A flaming bag of poo (don’t put it out with your boot, Ted!) It’s over an hour long. I haven’t watched it.

Day 11: A teaser of a trailer (which is really a teaser of the movie. This is how the world now works)

Day 12 saw the actual trailer released. I’ve attached the red band trailer, so if you don’t like NSFW language and/or violence, don’t watch it.

Since then, Deadpool has continued to push the boundries in how a movie is marketed. The recently revealed a couple of billboards to try to (jokingly) pull in new audiences. First off was a new emoji billboard:

And then a billboard to try to cash in on the movie’s Valentine’s Day opening date:

It seems like nothing is off-limits, or too far out for Deadpool to add his two cents. For Halloween Deadpool assembled his own neighborhood collection of X-Men:

This video has Deadpool wishing everyone a Happy Australia Day (and it gives him another chance to take a swipe at his X-Men Origins: Wolverine “appearance.”)

Recently Deadpool took over Fandango’s Twitter account for a Q&A session. If you can get past Cinemablend’s barrage of pop-up ads, you can read more about it here.

Using a completely new way to promote a movie, Deadpool put out a PSA telling men to screen themselves for testicular cancer. 

And to show he’s not playing favorites, Deadpool also helps out the ladies to help prevent breast cancer. 

The name of the game is creating awareness and creating engagement. Even the fans are getting involved. This fan recut the trailer to focus on the romance angle:

As a long-time fan of the character, I’m really looking forward to this movie. It’s the role that Ryan Reynolds was born to play. And it’s the super “hero” movie that we deserve. 

*I call this movie Deadpool’s debut because the character that appeared in X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), was a completely different character. He had the Wade Wilson/Deadpool name and was played by Ryan Reynolds, but that character was far from who Deadpool is.

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