Deadpool is a highly entertaining burst of fresh air. A fast, nonstop barrage of jokes and witticisms punctuated by exciting, unrestrained action. It’s a movie made for our inner teenager, the side of us that still finds humour in raunchiness and vulgarity and entertainment in violent, bloody action. But it does so with a cleverness and joy that keeps it from coming off as juvenile.
It’s honestly a miracle this movie actually exists. Deadpool had been in development hell for over 10 years. He is the character who least fits a worldview where superhero movies are not allowed to do anything that studios consider tough for audiences to swallow. (For proof of this, see the previous time a Deadpool adaptation was attempted in X-Men Origins: Wolverine.) It’s a notion that the Marvel movies have been defying, but terms like “grim and gritty”, “down to earth”, and “realistic” are still tossed around. A sarcastic, fourth wall-breaking, R-rated cartoon character like Deadpool? Forget about it.
Deadpool was originally created as a parody of the popular “grim and gritty” superhero comics of the mid-80s, and that’s how he works best. It’s only fitting, then, that the Deadpool movie was made by and perhaps in spite of the studio that took the colourful and fantastical X-Men of the comics and put them in matching black leather uniforms, and was released barely a month before Batman and Superman face off in “Grumpy v Grumpier: Dawn of Frowning”.
Deadpool leapt straight out of the comics with a bright red costume and nothing held back. No toning down. No visible studio interference. Just the character fans know and love, doing what he does best, with all the Looney Tunes wackiness that comes with it.
Ryan Reynolds has wanted to play this role for years, and it shows. Deadpool as a character is exactly what I hoped he would be. He’s an antihero in every sense of the word, slashing through villains with no remorse, dropping swearwords by the dozen, and stubbornly, almost childishly defying the rules of heroism. He breaks the fourth wall to address the audience, makes meta commentary, and drops pop culture references (including out-of-universe ones) like nobody’s business. While it’s true that self-awareness has been a staple of recent comic book movies like Guardians of the Galaxy, Deadpool takes it to the next level.
For a caricature of a character like Deadpool to work best, he needs a straight man to bounce off. To that end, the movie makes clever use of its place in the X-Men universe by bringing in Colossus and newcomer Negasonic Teenage Warhead (whose name, attitude, powers, and New Mutants-like yellow and black costume I absolutely loved). The three of them share a great dynamic, and the contrast between them magnifies each other’s characteristics.
Morena Baccarin did a great job playing Vanessa, a well-written and refreshingly rounded character, which is a luxury most love interests aren’t granted in these movies. It’s too bad she ended up as the damsel in distress though. But for the most part, Deadpool did well by its female characters. It’s not perfect, but every one of them, from Negasonic and Vanessa to Blind Al, is a distinct, well-defined, and likeable character, and none are relegated to being nothing more than a plot device.
Speaking of not perfect, Deadpool is not without weaknesses. I liked the movie’s unique, nonlinear plot structure, but the story itself was a pretty by-the-book superhero origin story, not too different from what it’s parodying. There’s so much meta self-aware dialogue in this movie that in the moments when it flirted with familiarity, I half-expected Deadpool to look at the camera and say, “Yeah, we’re doing that trope.” Don’t expect many surprises in the overall narrative, but there definitely are plenty in the execution. Also, the villains are somewhat one-note, which has become standard in superhero movies (especially origin stories). But this movie is very much about Deadpool so that didn’t bother me too much.
So what’s the takeaway here? Make more R-rated superhero movies? More fourth wall-breaking self-awareness? No. The lesson that should be learned is simple: don’t be afraid of being accurate to the source material. Respect the audience’s intelligence. Trust that they know what they want. And for the love of God, if you buy the rights to a superhero, make a movie about that superhero, not some pale imitation sharing their name.
That’s what made Deadpool work. Its crass style isn’t for everyone, but with its cleverness, humour, and genre-savvy self-awareness, Deadpool is definitely worth your time.
Rating: 4/5 (Great)
If you enjoy this website, check out the Facebook page and hit like at facebook.com/ScrawlSpace.