Burnt butt naked fighting, a nude sex scene, and enough f-bombs to flatten New York. The latest installment in Fox Studio's X-men Universe has certainly taken things to a whole new realm in its world and ours. Super hero movies now have an option of fun for the whole family or 17 and up only thanks to Deadpool. So since they’ve taken it there, did they get it right?
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m no comic book fanboy. I’m a film head, but I love talking with my fanboy friends about the accuracy of the movie versus the comic book. When it comes to the tone of the film directed by Tim Miller, Deadpool certainly has its own. From the opening credits, rather than seeing actors’ names we see “A Hot Chick”, “British Villain”, or “A Gratuitous Cameo”. So, yes, the film is on point tonally as it plays with credits, the fourth wall, our sense of what a super hero movie should be, and knowing itself.
The film starts out in the middle of an action sequence on a high rise bridge with Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) in the midst of taking out bad guys. He quickly makes us aware of his awareness of our presence by talking into the camera and takes us back to when he was just Wade Wilson, a former Special Forces operative turned mercenary, who spent his time intimidating people for money. He’s the anti-hero we can get behind because we see him putting pressure on a teenage pizza boy who’s stalking a female classmate. The first half of the film intercuts between the present day fight and Deadpool’s backstory.
Surprisingly in a world full of sarcastic humor and quick whit, the film does have an emotional heart. As Deadpool constantly reminds us, his film is a love story. After meeting Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), a woman who is every bit his equal verbally and mentally, he learns that he has terminal cancer. Rather than letting her watch him die, Wade leaves under the cloak of night to become a part of a government program that will cure him and give him super powers...after they torture him for months to awaken his mutant gene.
Once he is able to escape, Wade vows to get revenge on the people who left him with deformed skin and the ability to rapidly heal from anything (which is kind of ironic in itself). His enemies have names, Francis (Ed Skrein) who has no physical feeling due to lost nerves and Angel Dust (Gina Carano) who is a super strong woman. Deadpool desires to tell Vanessa he’s still alive but believes his disfigurement is so bad a mother wouldn’t even love him so he vows to stay away. Yet, your worst enemy and the love of your life have to meet at some point in a super hero film right?
Deadpool almost feels like a sitcom at times, throwing out jokes every thirty seconds. The likelihood of each joke sticking is slim, unless you like sophomoric humor, but many of them work. We’re constantly reminded that we’re in a world comprised from other films with Deadpool making jokes about Green Lantern, the Blade franchise, and Wolverine (all films in which Reynolds was in). As Deadpool is visited by Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), two X-men in the film, Deadpool manages to get off an excellent comment about how large their mansion is but we only see the two of them as though the studio couldn’t pay for more characters to be in the movie. The combination of developing Deadpool’s tender heart beneath all of the jokes, the love between Wade and Vanessa that is certainly all their own, and being pummeled with well thought out humor (outside of potty jokes) makes Deadpool work as a stand alone film/character.
As Marvel movies continues to grow (no matter the studio it comes from), an occasional off-beat character serves well for two reasons: it gives audiences a break from the major tent pole characters, and allows the studios to bring in new characters down the road. Deadpool is definitely an original and fresh character that I probably would have rather spent an hour and a half with rather than its almost two hour running time. However, for a fresh face every few years, I don’t see him going anywhere anytime soon! Just remember parents with kids under 17, this film is rated R for a reason!