When the delightlfully subversive Deadpool become an unexpectedly huge success earlier this year, Hollywood prognosticators were quick to declare the various ways the film's insane bounty would affect the already-booming superhero movie trend.
The first impact of Deadpool's success was that it suddenly rendered Suicide Squad (in theatres next week) a much hotter prospect than it previously had been.
The DC Comics adaptation concerns a bunch of supervillains who are forced by the government to undertake special-ops missions. So basically it's The Super Dirty Dozen.
Jammed to the brim with A-listers like Will Smith (as assassin Deadshot), Jared Leto (as The Joker) and Margot Robbie (as Harley Quinn, Joker's one true love), Suicide Squad wasn't exactly flying under the radar prior to Deadpool breaking out, but its status as something of a super-'anti'-hero film, the first big one to be released since the Ryan Reynolds smarm-athon, has both Warner Bros. bean counters and movie audiences all the more excited for it.
It's well-positioned to right the Warner Bros/DC Comics ship following the poor reception met by Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice.
With three quarters of a billion dollars earned at the box office, Deadpool is the most successful superhero film to subvert the conventions of the genre, but it definitely wasn't the first.
In many ways, movies were questioning the idea of superheroes long before they ever took them seriously on the big screen, which still feels like a relatively recent phenomenon.
With irreverence and subversion back in the superhero movie fold in a major way, I am going to cite here some notable precedents in this area, in reverse chronological order.
Underseen, underrated and suprisingly dark, this black comedy stars Rainn Wilson (The Office) as a frustrated white man who decides to fight crime armed only with a wrench and a red suit. Ellen Page, Liv Tyler and Kevin Bacon co-star.
Director James Gunn previously wrote the screenplay for the cult superhero spoof The Specialsin 2000, and he most recently brought his insightful grasp of superhero dynamics to Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy, which he wrote and directed. He's currently working on the sequel, in which Kurt Russell plays a planet.
A sunnier take on the same idea that drove Super, Matthew Vaughn's gleefully violent action comedy remains undeniably rousing, but its legacy has been a little bit tainted by the crummy 2013 sequel.
Zack Snyder's bold adaptation of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' iconic deconstruction of the superhero genre perhaps came a little too early in the comic book movie boom to be fully embraced. The conventions that Moore so artfully deconstructed are only now becoming prevalent in the cinematic realm.
isn't Will Smith's first venture into superheroics - he starred in this successful, although largely forgotten, blockbuster as a former hero who has descended into an alcoholic mess. The project began life as a highly-regarded script called
Tonight, He Comes
, which had most of its interesting edges smoothed off in the re-writing process to become
Sky High (2005)
This unassuming Disney film about a high school for budding superheroes is far funnier and touching that it has any right to be. Don't get it confused with the remarkably similar Zoom, which came out the following year.
The Incredibles (2002)
The best irreverent superhero movies make plenty of room for reverence, and the two elements came together beautifully in Brad Bird's animated masterpiece. How is he possibly going to top this in the upcoming sequel?
Arguably M. Night Shyamalan's last good film, this slow-burn thriller turned the idea of the 'origin' story on its head.
Mystery Men (1999)
This odd superhero subversion features a killer cast (including Ben Stiller, Geoffrey Rush and William H. Macy) and an impressively stylised look, but nobody saw it. It's worth checking out.
Batman: The Movie (1966)
This was the big screen outing for the infamous Adam West TV series, which is probably more responsible than any one other project for comic book adaptations not being taken seriously until relatively recently. It's a reliable hoot nonetheless.
What's your favourite irrevernet superhero movie? Amped for Suicide Squad? Comment below?