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What the Nature Education community should pay attention to Deadpool.

Warning: This might seem like a weird blog post.

It's probably a little nutty to compare Nature Education and Wilderness Schools and the latest super 'anti-hero' movie Deadpool, but bear with me. I think this will be worth your time, especially if you are working to reconnect people with nature.

If I'm being honest, 'nature' connection is a tough sell. Not because it's not a powerful, skill developing relationship that affects your whole life, but because it's just not seen as all that important in today's modern world. It's needed now more than ever, but most people don't actually KNOW they need it. So, it's not easy sometimes to fill a program when there isn't a natural demand for it across our cultural spectrum.

This is where Deadpool comes in. So, you probably need a little context first.

Deadpool is a comic-book 'anti-hero' who is a completly wacky, wise-cracking character with powers, a frightening visage and a heroic sense of humor. He's not a massively popular character like Iron Man/Tony Stark, or Spiderman/Peter Parker, or Batman/Bruce Wayne. He did generate a very large fan base over the years, who enjoyed the contrast he offered to the usual run of the mill 'hero' stories.

To say that getting a Deadpool superhero movie project to actually happen was a longshot is an understatement. It was viewed as 'highly risky', and most studios wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole, sensing a financial failure and embarrassment. Studio executives DO have a sense of pride, after all, and no one wants to be on the hook.

Enter Ryan Reynolds, as a champion of Deadpool and representing a lot of passionate fans. Reynolds played Wade Wilson/Deadpool in the X-Men Origins: Wolverine film, which introduced the Deadpool character but strayed from the character's true nature and this INFURIATED the FANS. Ryan felt it was up to him to actually do it right, and bring the character to life in the way the comic books originally intended, but he was having trouble getting any traction.

Why am I telling you all this? Because it's important to know this so you can fully appreciate the LONG ODDS facing this movie that opened in theaters this weekend.

Reynolds convinced the studio to do a short 'audition' film of him as Deadpool, to see how it would resonate with fans, and somehow, it was 'leaked' to the internet, and well, here's the full story.

Once it was greenlit by the studio, who recognized the fans demanded this be done, Ryan was chosen for the lead, and they started adapting the story/script to fit their budget and production limitations. This wasn't a big budget film like the Avengers or Captain America. The writers, producers and crew begain putting it together, after an eleven year battle. That's dedication!

However, Ryan Reynolds knew that the movie could still struggle at the box office, so, he and his team begain a fiercely creative marketing efforts that I have EVER seen. They began shooting 'spots' or short ads that basically defy every traditional movie marketing plan I've ever seen.

Deadpool was everywhere online, with TV ads but especially on social media, where they got VERY creative. Deadpool The Marketing Machine went nuts. Reynolds played a huge part in this entire effort, and he went far away and above ANYTHING that ANY other superhero movie actor has done, EVER.

Deadpool had his own Tinder. He had his own EMOJis!

He gave Conan O'Brian a MASSAGE.

He created billboards implying that Deadpool was a romantic, Valentine's Day Date Night film.

He got Betty White to do a film review video and posted it online.

Check out the media, who noted how extraordinary it was, HERE, HERE and HERE. Do yourself a favor and check it out.

I have barely even scratched the surface of how completely viral they got this movie marketing effort. (The 12 Days of Deadpool was awesome.) Deadpool was on the map, in a big way.

People who had never heard of Deadpool, were getting drawn in, because the marketing was genius. It drew people in. It was different. It was unique. It was hard to know what to make of it all, but they kept watching, and getting a feel for this irreverent, creative, fearless, saucy superhero. They were getting a dose of Deadpool, to know him. They were getting to like him. And they eventually started to believe that he could be fun. They were starting to trust him to entertain and spend some time hearing his story.

You know: The KNOW, LIKE and TRUST factor.

Time will tell whether or not this movie is a blockbuster, but I just saw that today, on Saturday alone, the movie has exceeded the opening of the X-Men, Days of Future Past. That's pretty significant, because that was the SIXTH X-Men movie in their franchise. Formidable competition indeed.

"Okay," I know you're saying. "What's your point, Rick?"

Here you go: We have to be A LOT more creative if we want to get Nature Education, Wilderness Skills Programs, Earth Philosophy, or Tracking to become mainstream.

Yes, Ryan Reynolds is a celebrity. Yes, his movie was backed by 20th Century Fox, and given millions for a creative marketing team to launch this movie. Yes, I totally get that.

But here's the thing: Reynolds, who is almost more of a natural Wade Wilson than Robert Downey Jr is Tony Stark, was willing to throw everything but the kitchen sink into this effort to get this movie SEEN by people.

We can learn from this effort, people, and use it to the benefit of millions of people.

For the children.