The Golden Globes are this Sunday, meaning mainstream audiences will be getting their first look at what movies and TV shows the Hollywood Foreign Press thinks mattered the most in 2016. You have your usual fare, of course: awards-baiting dramas ranging from cynical to groundbreaking; comedies that shine more for their storied leading ladies; and performances that go from good to kind of freaky. And then you have Deadpool. The first live-action superhero movie to pick up a Golden Globe nomination for Best Comedy or Musical, the film also earned star Ryan Reynolds a Best Actor nomination. It’s a dream come true for comic book movie fans looking for recognition for the genre that birthed The Dark Knight. And the best part? Both nods are deserved.
Barring some upset, though, Deadpool probably won’t win. The film faces some stiff competition, and La La Land is the odds-on favorite to win in both categories. (Ryan Reynolds is great, but his turn just doesn’t have the momentum Ryan Gosling’s performance has.) But that’s okay! Getting a nomination is a big accomplishment, even for something as relatively inconsequential as the Golden Globes, and it speaks to just how important it was that Deadpool differed so much from its competition.
While not the greatest superhero movie of all time, Deadpool was a genuinely good film with a unique point of view in the ever-expanding pantheon of comics cinema. Reynolds delivered one of the most talked-about performances of the year, and the film’s mix of violence and comedy sent a gleeful “Fuck you!” to a film genre some fans and critics have grown tired of. In short, it stood out, and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association took notice. Even though 2016 was a big year for genre properties, Deadpool felt more like a subversive comedy than a superhero movie.
It also helps that it was almost impossible to ignore the movie, and both Reynolds and 20th Century Fox did some daring things to get people to take notice of a film that had no reason to succeed — let alone become a critical and commercial success. Blame it on Deadpool’s ability to break the fourth wall: the Merc with a Mouth appeared in everything from conventional billboards to testicular cancer PSAs. Moviegoers certainly took notice, catapulting the film to $780 million worldwide at the box office, but awards voters took notice, too.
It all lead to Deadpool being the superhero film that was most commonly on the average moviegoer’s lips despite coming out in a year that was positively bursting with competition. X-Men: Apocalypse was a forgettable failure. Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad were eviscerated by critics. Even Captain America: Civil War and Doctor Strange, generally praised when released, quickly faded from memory. Deadpool never did, and in that way it was easy to see how it had won 2016. Now, the Merc with a Mouth is getting a sequel that may push the envelope even further — and he may win 2018 as well.
In the end, the Golden Globe nominations, as lame as they may be, are further proof that the experiment worked. 20th Century Fox managed to make a good movie that challenged established convention in its genre, got people excited, and couldn’t be ignored. No one would have been surprised if Deadpool didn’t get a nomination. It’s not like superhero movies ever get them, and better films and performances are snubbed every year. But that’s precisely why the fact that it’s up for an award this Sunday is so Deadpool-ian in the first place. Leave it to a movie that succeeded by breaking all the rules to upend the unwritten bylaws of awards season as its final act.