Film Review | Deadpool

Not many films come around like Deadpool. The film spent years in development hell and was unkindly scrapped after the disastrous X-Men Origins: Wolverine essentially destroyed the character’s potential viability. Though like the actual Deadpool it just didn’t seem to be able to die. A few years back the test footage from the potential film was surreptitiously “leaked”[1] and erupted a wave of fans (including star Ryan Reynolds himself) pushing for the film’s revival. Flash forward to 2016 and here we are. The first rated R Marvel[2] film in a post Iron-Man world. Deadpool is a breath of fresh air against the constant assault of giant mega-movie superhero films.

The best thing about Deadpool may not be the film itself but rather the films it positions itself around. It’s appropriate that this film essentially kicks off the superhero season of 2016 as it laughs in the face of everything those films think they need to make a successful entry in the genre. Deadpool boasts a modest budget and remarkably small cast, and at 1 hour, 48 minutes, it proves that not all superhero affairs have to be bloated ones. Even the structure of the film is a departure. While certainly something we’ve seen before—the idea to essentially break up the first act into a series of flashbacks cut between parts of one scene was an ingenious way to deliver an origin story that may have weighed this film down. Deadpool shows there is room for variety and more importantly there is success in it.

You can see this in how they use Colossus. An X-Men transplant who constantly tries to get Deadpool to join the team of heroes. He is frequently shown as naïve and the butt of jokes. He gets beaten in his own fight (a nice nod to Colossus’ miserable fighting record in the comics, dude CANNOT win a fight) and he ultimately fails to persuade Deadpool to do much of anything heroic. He represents the slow, bloviated nature of those other Fox films.

What Deadpool does best is confidence. It knows what it is and gives you exactly what you want. The jokes are crude but punchy and the action is bloody without being gratuitous. And Reynolds is in fine form as the character. I had my doubts that the joke per minute format and the constant pop culture references–which were at times a little dated– would not be able to sustain a full film. But the jokes stay fresh throughout and remain true to the characters inherent insanity. The 4th wall breaking is used sparingly but to good effect and running gags like that of the Ajax’s real name–really get their miles here.

What surprised me most about Deadpool is that for all its cynicism and crassness, it had a surprising amount of heart to it. The romance between Wade and Vanessa is played straight and completely earnestly, even while pegging and other anal play are in discussion. It’s a refreshing throwback to conventional hero stories of guy saves girl, even if the film doesn’t totally buy that trope itself. The balance between the earnest and the cynical really serve this movie well.

Overall Deadpool is a highly competent film that benefits from the landscape it was created from. I don’t think I would have enjoyed the film so much had I not been so fatigued from the seemingly endless cycle of Marvel fare (though I’m still ridiculously excited for Civil War). But Deadpool does a lot of good things and they add to a pretty good film and that hopefully signals a bright future ahead for R rated cape movies. And for here and now that’s okay.

Deadpool gets a solid B.

Cut for Time…

  • Negasonic Teenage Warhead was an important part of my favorite run of X-Men Comics: Astonishing X-Men, by Joss Whedon. Please read if you have the chance…
  • Why has NTW’s X-Men outfit better than any X-Men outfit in ALL THEIR MOVIES? Get it together Singer…
  • Francis (Ajax) was the best villain I’ve seen in a while. Simple and charming, he was an asshole who hated Deadpool and we really didn’t need much more than that from the big bad…
  • My last gripe is that it seemed like for I praised about the shortness of the film it seemed a few key scenes between Deadpool and Negasonic were cut which made her little admission of his cool at the end seem a bit odd…

 

[1] Leaked probably by someone at FOX or hell, even Reynolds himself.

[2] Marvel here is used in terms of the intellectual property. Not Marvel Studios.

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