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Deadpool & Wolverine marketing strategy hinges on Wade and Logan’s chemistry

Deadpool's recent outing features an unlikely and surprising companion - Wolverine. As the franchise integrates into the MCU, the elements that made the first two films popular remain intact, making it the first R-rated movie of MCU. The lead stars’ popularity and chemistry was heavily leveraged as the marketing strategy involved social media teasers, collaborations with brands, special merchandise, sardonic videos and more.

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Harshal Thakur
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In the vast landscape of superhero cinema, few pairings have generated as much buzz as the upcoming Deadpool & Wolverine movie. This dynamic duo, known for their contrasting personalities and iconic status within the Marvel universe, presents a unique marketing opportunity. 

While the MCU witnessed a dip in popularity and excitement after the conclusion of its Phase Three with Avengers: Endgame in 2019, the studio relied on the upcoming Deadpool movie to fuel momentum in the ongoing Phase Five. The character, unlike other Marvel superhero characters, has been known for its witty and sardonic demeanour, catering largely to adult audiences. Deadpool movies have been known to feature adult humour, which wasn’t diluted to make the titular character’s addition to the MCU seem suitable, making it the first MCU film to receive an R-rating. 

Ryan Reynolds announced in September 2022 that Hugh Jackman would return as Wolverine for Deadpool 3, which was set for release on September 6, 2024. The announcement of Wolverine’s addition to the MCU and pairing with Deadpool made the film one of the most anticipated movies of the year. 

While Jackman’s addition to the movie was announced, the capacity in which the Wolverine character might be seen in the movie remained an element up for speculation.  

To build for the movie’s release, Marvel’s marketing strategy experimented with a lot of elements, including brand collaborations and full-fledged campaigns.

Star power on full display

The enormity of the popularity of the characters of Deadpool and Wolverine is common knowledge. But as much popular the characters are in popular culture discourse, equally popular are the actors essaying these roles. Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman are bonafide stars in their own right, but when paired up for MCU’s upcoming venture, excitement among fans was bound to skyrocket.    

Reynolds used his social media to keep fans updated around the film’s proceedings. A video released almost a year ago teased the participation of Jackman. 

In a video with Jackman, he cleared out air regarding the ending of Logan (2017) and assured fans that the upcoming movie does not touch or take off from Wolverine's ending.

Even before the release of the media assets related to the film, Hugh Jackman teased fans with a post on Instagram, in keeping with the characters’ dynamic in Deadpool & Wolverine.

The star leveraged their social media presence to build excitement for the trailer and shared clips before its release.

Jackman kept his character’s persona throughout and made sure it reflected in his captions.   

A teaser trailer for the film was released during Super Bowl LVIII in February 2024.

The trailer for the movie was released on April 22. It had 365 million global views in its first 24 hours, surpassing the record of Spider-Man: No Way Home (355.5 million views) to become the most-viewed trailer in that time period. 

Customised products and brand collabs

Deadpool & Wolverine collaborated with a variety of brands to launch customised products themed around the upcoming movie. 

DiGiorno teamed up with Marvel Studios for a limited-edition pizza collaboration.The partnership introduced four new pizza varieties inspired by the characters. The pizzas featured unique flavours like ‘The Wade Special’ and ‘Gimme Chimi.’ Fans could also enter a contest to win prizes, including a trip to Los Angeles and movie tickets. The campaign included a marketing blitz across digital, social, and TV platforms, celebrating the release of the film. 

Heineken Silver collaborated with Marvel Studios to celebrate the film’s release by Marvel Studio seating a campaign featuring Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman. The campaign included a television spot, in-store promotions, and digital support, where Deadpool and Wolverine set aside their differences over a Heineken Silver. 

Marvel Comics released an eight-part miniseries, ‘Weapon X-Traction,’ written by Ryan North and drawn by Javier Garrón, featuring Deadpool and Wolvernie’s comic counterparts. The series includes five-page instalments in July and August issues, accompanied by special variant covers. The story follows Deadpool and Wolverine on a chaotic multiverse journey.

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Aviation American Gin launched six limited-edition bottles inspired by Deadpool & Wolverine. The bottles, designed by Maximum Effort and Sandstrom Partners, featured sleek black glass with red accents and showcased unique Deadpool icons. This collaboration, a first for Aviation American Gin, was available nationwide and in select countries starting early summer.

Furthermore, SuperX launched a new line of Deadpool and Wolverine-themed merchandise, including hoodies, joggers, T-shirts, tank tops, and shorts.

Ticketing platform Fandango announced the official ‘Best Friends Necklaces’ as part of Deadpool’s premium package.

Other brand collaborations included the ones with Jack in the Box, Funko and Hot Toys, and Hot Topic. 

The merc with a marketing plan 

Deadpool & Wolverine didn't rely solely on Reynolds' star power. Hugh Jackman's return as Wolverine was a huge selling point, and the marketing materials didn't shy away from showcasing the iconic duo. Their contrasting personalities were a focus, promising an explosive (and hilarious) dynamic on screen. 

A few videos released in the months leading up to the film featured Reynolds and Jackman which depicted the sexual tension building among the pair in a humorous manner. 

A trailer released on May 20, 2024, announcing ticket pre-sales included a QR code that led to a video of Reynolds reading a disclaimer for the film.

A ‘silence your phones public service announcement (PSA) with Deadpool and Wolverine opened Disney's presentation at CinemaCon in April 2024, during which Kevin Feige and director Shawn Levy debuted nine minutes of exclusive footage from the film. The PSA was later released publicly.

Ryan Reynolds unveiled a new popcorn bucket for Deadpool & Wolverine inspired by Wolverine's head, featuring a comically oversized mouth for snacks. The reveal video, set to ‘Also Sprach Zarathustra,’ showed Deadpool filling the bucket with popcorn and butter. This marketing stunt followed the viral success of the ‘Dune 2’ bucket.

Another special video was dropped for Best Friends Day featuring a collage of sequences from the movie.

BTS pictures from the sets were dropped on the day of the film’s release.

The lead duo along with the director appeared on Vanity fair and revealed inside stories along with exclusive pictures.

Jackman and Reynolds interviewed each other for People magazine to build on the promotional momentum.

A pinch of salt

Queer fans weren't thrilled with the Deadpool & Wolverine marketing campaign. While both characters have connections to LGBTQ+ identities in the comics (Deadpool being pansexual and Wolverine having a gay alternate version), the movie's promos leaned heavily on jokes about their supposed romantic interest. This reliance on ‘gay panic’ humour was found by some fans to be stale and offensive.

Critics felt it was another example of queerbaiting by Disney. By hinting at LGBTQ+ relationships but never delivering, the marketing exploited a desire for representation without actually including it. This left fans frustrated, especially considering Marvel's history of downplaying or erasing LGBTQ+ aspects of characters.

A few posters released online featured the duo romancing in a Beauty-and-the-Beast manner that received a lot of flak on X (Twitter) especially since it coincided with Pride month. 

On the other hand, a large section of fans, especially the established Marvel fanbase, seem enthusiastic about the film. Deadpool & Wolverine has been described by many as a welcome change and a breath of fresh air for the Marvel Cinematic Universe after a few years of Superhero fatigue.  

The promotional efforts for the movie and the overall marketing strategy seems to resonate with the iconic personalities of its characters and is a conscientious attempt to add spark to the conventional marketing style of the MCU.  

Marvel Ryan Reynolds brand collaborations Hugh Jackman marketing campaign Heineken Silver promotions MCU Marvel Studios