In my cherished writer's group, I've always been known as the Structure Stickler. As if that's a bad thing!
(I mean, it kind of sounds like a Batman villain's name, right? That's good thing, isn't it?)
Seriously, in my humble opinion structure is where writing thrives. My favorite writer, William Goldman (two time Oscar winner for "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and "All the President's Men") says that structure is what writing is all about. Every classic screenwriting book from Syd Field to Michael Hague to the current screenwriting bible - Blake Synder's "Save the Cat!" - have their own take on proper structure, and really they're all the same with just slightly different tweaks and labels.
Inevitably, though, anytime I talk with other writers (even a lot of seasoned ones) they complain about how structure is so restrictive and cramps their style and it makes writing too predictable.
The two Deadpool movies - and especially the recently released Deadpool 2 - sure have their share of shocks and surprises and yet... they're both actually tightly structured movies. Take that haters!
Since it just came out, I'll look a little more closely at Deadpool 2 (also I haven't seen Deadpool: The Original in a few years and I don't want to rewatch a two hour movie before I write a blog about this).
I guess I'll just say a big SPOILER ALERT right now since I sort of have to discuss plot points to make my argument.
Right off the bat, I don't think it's spoiling anything to say that this movie is crass and irreverant and surprising. However, it carefully plots its twists and turns down a well defined path and that gives it focus and keeps the movie humming along.
Eesh! Deadpool just blew himself into tiny pieces. (At pretty much the exact 10% mark that "Save the Cat!" recommends a Catalyst moment).
Yowza! Deadpool just shot a pedophile orderly in the head to protect an abused kid even though it's in defiance of Colossus and the other second-string X-Men. (I think Syd Field would agree that's a break into Act 2).
Zlam! Splotch! Clammy! Deadpool just gathered together a team of misfits to create X-Force in an effort to overcome Cable and save Fire Fist. (Right where Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey would place its "Test, Allies, and Enemies" section).
Bwoom! Deadpool is teaming up with Cable - who we thought was the bad guy - to try to stop Fire Fist - before he goes full bad guy - and get around Juggernaut - who's the only true bad guy. (And that, my friends, is the Act 3 break).
(Side Note: Boy, comic book writers really get to make up silly, simplistic, but fun character names!)
Even knowing all of this, I could sit and watch Deadpool while being thoroughly entertained and even surprised. The clear structure didn't weaken the movie or make it overly predictable. In fact, it did the opposite. It kept the movie on track and moving, and the writers clearly used the structure as a challenge for themselves to come up with the unexpected. They knew they needed an "All is Lost" moment, so they figured out how best to turn it on its head while still being satisfying, and they chose to have Deadpool literally be torn in half and lose half his body.
So, once again and always, I say "Yay for structure!"
But, wait, you say, "Green Lantern also had solid structure, and it bombed hard!"
(To which Deadpool says, "Low blow, right to the shirt balls.")
It's true, though. Green Lantern used solid structure - but chose beats that were pretty much always totally expected. However, knowing where to place twists and turns doesn't have to lead to boring predictability as long as you have the guts to keep taking the unexpected turn. When people expect you to turn left or right, try digging a hole in the ground and going down instead.
That's what Deadpool does and his movies are awesome!
And if you want a great counterpoint, check out Batman v. Superman - that things structure is all over the place.