Now, as Deadpool sits among the record books as the most successful R-rated movie ever released, it is easy to forget just how many people were second guessing the decision before it’s open. R-ratings scare movie producers. Receiving an R is supposed to lead to poor box office returns because these ratings suppress the available audience. Only in this case, it probably didn’t.
The last most successful R-rated movie was The Matrix. Unlike Deadpool, it probably didn’t deserve an R and likely would not get one today. But Deadpool and The Matrix did share one important attribute that helped each overcome their R-rated handicaps — memorability. Each movie created plenty of excitement and word of mouth — and that is box office gold. For Deadpool, that memorability probably required an R-rating.
For professionals — teachers, executives, consultants, and comic book mercenaries — there is a lot to learn from Deadpool’s memorability. Those lessons come in the form of both technique and courage. Deadpool pushed boundaries. This is often lauded in the name of art, but it should also be lauded for those who are trying to teach, educate, inform, and inspire. So here are some ideas from the movie on how:
I am a huge fan of analogies. I am a huge fan of colorful metaphors. They stick. If you force people to visualize something just a little bit uncomfortable, they won’t soon be forgetting it. If you can also work in humor, pop culture, and history — you have memory gold! This line from the movie hits every box.
“If I ever decide to become a crime-fighting shit swizzler, who rooms with a bunch of other little whiners at Neverland Mansion with some creepy, old, bald, Heaven’s Gate-looking motherfucker… on that day, I’ll send your shiny, happy ass a friend request.”
Check. Check. Check. No one is going to forget or second guess Deadpool’s feelings on the X-men. Better still, the references he picked are so straight-forward you don’t even need to recall them. Even if you never heard of Heaven’s Gate, The Neverland Ranch, or heard the song Shiny Happy People — this line is still funny… unless you can’t get past the swizzler reference, but that is why a little courage is required.
There is a certain campiness to Deadpool. You may find it funny. You may think it is dumb. Either way you remember it. More still you come to expect it. Fans of Deadpool comic books certainly did and this movie rose to the occasion. Your presentation skills will also benefit from a certain level of silliness. Just be sure to keep in genuine and understand that different professions have different levels that are allowable. Teachers and comic book mercenaries likely have the greatest leeway. CEOs and consultants have a bit less.
Catch Phrases Help
Memorability is only enhanced by thoughtful repetition. Thoughtful — in how often it is used — not necessarily the phrase/s you use.
“Did someone say chimichanga?”
Silly sounding words stick with people. So do awesome catch phrases. The former are actually a little easier to come up with.
Self-Deprecating Is Not A Sin… It Just Sounds Like One
Whether it was the Marvel franchise
From the studio that inexplicably sewed his fucking mouth shut the first time…
Please don’t make the suit green. Or animated!
Or the writing
Colossus: You will come talk with Professor Xavier.
Deadpool: McAvoy or Stewart? These timelines can get so confusing.
Deadpool had no issues accounting for past misjudgement and mistakes. Your audience is going to remember those mistakes, so take advantage by making them an asset later. People like humble, but more importantly to this self-serving article — they also remember it. The opening credits of Deadpool alone delivered this lesson in spades.
Humor Trumps Drama When It Comes To Memorability
Deadpool is full of sex scenes — well one really long one — and fight scenes. Those surely earned it the R-rating. They did not make the movie memorable. What kept it memorable was the humor that accompanied each moment. From the calendar sex scene (with the brief pause during Lent) to the “Superhero Landing”, Deadpool injects humor with a one-two punch (and then goes T-rex). Humor lessens the harshness of R-rated sex, violence, and graphic metaphors AND it makes them more memorable. You don’t remember Deadpool’s ridiculous fight with Colossus without the humor. You probably remember the sex scene — but you describe it to your friends as gratuitous…
Finally — Subtlety Is Not Memorable
Subtlety is for great authors… the rest of us are trying to get paid. Don’t try to hide these tricks. Embrace them. Besides, if you call them out — it only makes them more memorable!
Fourth wall break inside of a fourth wall break? That’s like… 16 walls!