Deadpool Sets to Impress Comic and Film Fans Alike
Walking out of a theater with a friend in 2009, I heard a multitude of complaints about Wolverine Origins. The loudest of all of these complaints, though, involved a certain mercenary superhuman. There is no doubt Deadpool poses insurmountable popularity: since his creation in 1991, he has grown into a crowd favorite among the comic book diehards and casual readers alike thanks to his quirky humor, gritty violence, and imaginative self-awareness. Fans of the character, though, rightfully felt he hadn’t been justice in the X-Men spin-off. It hadn’t mattered much to me then, having long overcome the hurdle of mentally keeping separate films from their source material, but I couldn’t help to imagine what a legitimate Deadpool film would resemble. The second take of the character on film doesn’t seem too far off of what I or any other comic book reader could have pondered back then.
It’s safe to say that everything about Deadpool that Wolverine Origins got wrong, Deadpool gets right. Where the Merc with a Mouth was relegated to a literally mouthless caricature of supervillainy, his starring incarnation is every bit as lippy and sarcastic as his funny page counterpart. This film takes obscene pride in its viscera: from gore to profanity to nudity, gratuity is the name of the game in this film and it is that sense of enthusiastic intensity that truly sets this apart from every other comic book movie hitting the screen in the last decade. Deadpool earns its R-rating.
Ryan Reynolds, who has spent the last seven years valiantly championing this film, finds a way to make every line work, even those that seem to defy all scriptwriting logic and securities of taste. He is immediately witty and even somehow charming, both masked and unmasked. At this point, everyone walking into the auditorium should be convinced that Reynolds loves the script and the movie it produced, yet at times it seems he’s not even taking it seriously on film. And that’s exactly what a picture like this would require. His supporting cast, while performing as best as they can against the personality juggernaut that is Deadpool, aren’t given nearly enough room to shine. T.J. Miller as Deadpool’s best friend and one-time employer Weasel, for instance, doesn’t manage to be half as funny as he is on HBO’s Silicon Valley and Morena Baccarin as Deadpool’s romantic foil Vanessa never rises above a sex-object-slash-damsel-in-distress pastiche.
One of the brightest moments in the film are Deadpool’s interactions with the X-Men. Though his exposure is limited, only two X-Men grace the film in the form of Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), the scenes featuring these characters unquestionably serve as the brightest moments of the film. Cross-overs and character cameos have long been commonplace in the realm of comic books, and Deadpool channels the spirit and and fun of these occurances perfectly. Seemingly a strange pairing, the pair of mutant heroes create a dynamic relationship in a film of otherwise straight-forward friends and enemies. More importantly, the two characters provide meaningful comparisons to the film’s hero: Colossus serves to offer Deadpool an opportunity, however brief, of heroism, while Negasonic becomes an unwitting object of Deadpool’s admiration thanks to her shameless and brazen apathy and her effortless rough-and-tumble exterior.
This film is fun and filthy and fantastic in its scale and ambitions, but it certainly is not without fault. For a production that seemed as determined as possible to navigate outside the box built by every other superhero film to come before it, it is structured and organized shockingly similar to nearly every single one of them. At the core of the film’s narration, Deadpool is reduced to little more than a love story. The formula follows thusly: boy meets girl, boy gets girl, boy becomes superhero, girl is used as a pawn in boy’s fight with villain. This tired trope has been used up in every superhero movie in memory, and even good ol’ Wade Wilson wasn’t immune. Equally infuriating was Deadpool’s insistence to be an origin story. The time spent building the needless romance arc and the tiring making-of-a-superhuman could have surely been better spent elsewhere.
Despite this, though, along with nearly everything else that would serve to go against Deadpool and its chances for success, this film is quite simply one that works. From the calculated snark (which pervades even the film’s opening credits) to the immaculate pacing (using some of the most creative flashback sequences in recent memory), Deadpool is entirely well crafted and thoughtfully curated for its very specific audience. Altogether it is more interesting and engaging than nearly every one of rival Marvel’s films, even without even a quarter of their star power and production value. It will immediately please and impress fans of both superhero films and comic books.