From the moment the film begins and you see the words “directed by an overpaid tool” and “produced by a — hats” on screen, you know “Deadpool” isn’t going to be like any other superhero movie you’ve seen before.
Mostly because he’s not a superhero.
“Deadpool” is raunchy, sexy, vulgar, and pretty funny.
That will make fans very, very happy.
For those who aren’t familiar with the character, Deadpool is a parody of comic book characters — primarily Spider-Man, Wolverine, but mostly DC Comic’s Deathstroke. His main appeal? He’s a comic book character who knows he’s living in a comic book world. We’re just along for the crazy ride as he winks and nods at the camera while going along having a merry old time shooting up a bad guy here, chasing after another in a Zamboni machine there.
The film follows Wade Wilson, a former Special Forces operative turned mercenary, who learns he has terminal cancer. He gives himself over to an experimental program in exchange for a cure. (In the comics, it’s the same one that also gave Wolverine his special healing powers). The experiment works, but it leaves him incredibly marred. When he goes after the man responsible for turning him into an invincible, but freakish avocado-like Freddy Krueger type (those are T.J. Miller’s words), he gets the tables turned on him.
If you’re going to see this movie though, you’re not seeing it so much for the story. You’re seeing it for Deadpool — the wise-cracking, sharp-tongued, and self-aware mentally unstable antihero — and boy did they get him right.
Ryan Reynolds, yes, the same Reynolds who once played Green Lantern in an oft-maligned DC movie, nails it as Deadpool. Every time he’s in costume he’s a scene stealer taking jabs at other superhero films, himself and his past roles, and the X-Men. He even makes fun of Fox, the studio distributing the film, many times over. You may not pick up on all of them the first time around. Some nods are more subtle than others and that’s where fans will feel rewarded.
Every time he’s shown out of costume or in a flashback, you’re counting down the seconds until you can see Deadpool again on screen talking smack with a few baddies or taunting one of his X-Men pals Colossus or Negasonic Teenage Warhead (yup, that’s her name). Never heard of those X-Men characters? Wondering where the more famous ones are? Don’t worry, Deadpool has some clever things to say about that, too.
The praise for Reynolds shouldn’t come as a surprise if you’ve seen him in any of the marketing and teasers released for the film. He’s been pretty passionate about this role, and it shines through in his performance as he masterfully takes the character from page to screen. The 39-year-old actor has essentially been this film’s biggest proponent to not only get this film made, but to get it made properly since he appeared in 2009’s “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” as a wacky looking interpretation of the character. Reynolds served as a producer on the film after test footage for a new Deadpool movie went viral after leaking online.
The other big scene stealers are T.J. Miller (“Silicon Valley”), Deadpool’s one loyal friend and Stan Lee. The comic legend has a short cameo — as he does in most Marvel movies — which will make fanboys squeal when they spot him in an unexpected place.
Unfortunately, Morena Baccarin (“Gotham”) who plays Wilson’s girlfriend Vanessa isn’t much more than a badass damsel in distress though she does have a sharp tongue and a dirty enough mind to keep up with Wilson.
And this is where we come to the first of several shortcomings with “Deadpool.”
Surprisingly, “Deadpool” turned out to be somewhat of an inadvertent Valentine’s Day romance piece in addition to an off-beat antihero action film.
You can look at “Deadpool” as a revenge film — Deadpool goes after the man who turned him into a seemingly disfigured monster — but you can also look at it as a simple love story: Boy meets girl, they fall in love, and after he gets diagnosed with cancer, the boy risks it all to cure the illness. When he’s left disfigured, he’s so embarrassed by his repulsive appearance that he refuses to see the girl until he can track down a remedy. The latter half of the film becomes centered around Wilson as he tries to save his girlfriend from the man he’s going after.
Early in the film, Deadpool even refers to the film as a love story (before calling it a horror movie at one point).
This is something I expect hardcore fans will be thrown off by slightly because in the comics Deadpool really doesn’t have a steady, long-term girlfriend. He’s usually just a gun-slinging nutcase.
In fact guys were apparently tricking their girlfriends to go and see this movie for Valentine’s Day using some of the character’s parody ads. So maybe the joke actually is on them. Just a little. How clever of Deadpool.
Flashbacks to an origin story also drag the film down a bit. Early on, they’re the slowest moving pieces of the film. Origin films are hard to make interesting without feeling a bit forced into the narrative, but it was obviously necessary for those who aren’t familiar with the character. Deadpool’s not as mainstream as Iron Man, Wolverine, or other X-Men, at least to a an offline community.
However, the biggest let down of the film was that the trailers and ads gave away some of the best lines and moments of the film. If you’ve been following along, nearly the entire beginning of the film will be familiar to you. If you can forgive “Deadpool” for that, then you should be ok.
I’m expecting Deadpool to get a bunch of mixed reviews, but that’s mostly because while standing in line for the preview some of the press had no idea who the character was.
One older gentleman in back of me asked another why Deadpool dresses like Spider-Man. A quick Google of the character would have informed him the Merc with a Mouth is a spoof of a bunch of other comic book characters. (It’s no coincidence Deadpool’s real name is Wade Wilson. Deathstroke’s real name? SLADE Wilson.)
The person on my right told me after the film ended that “Deadpool” was a snooze. This same man laughed through much of the film and also told me he believed the film would make a lot of money, but that it was “made for a certain audience.”
Duh. That was the entire point.
I’m sure Fox knows that as well. Otherwise they wouldn’t be making “Deadpool” an R-rated movie. You either go all in — embrace Deadpool and all his fourth-wall breaking weirdness — or fans (the ones coming out to see this film) will see right through that and will hate the film.
So yes, I’m sure many critics will find many of Deadpool’s antics and foul language juvenile, crude, and possibly revolting, but that may be because they have never bothered to pick up a comic and see what the character’s all about. There’s a reason Deadpool is the Internet’s favourite superhero. There’s a reason fans dress up as him at every Comic Con related event year in and year out.
The reason people will respond to the film is not because it’s the best superhero movie they have ever seen — it’s not — but because its self-awareness delivers something that’s participatory. It’s an experience you just don’t get at the movies and it’s what help makes “Deadpool” unique.
Bottom line: Fans of the series and the character will be satisfied. I had fun during the movie — it was a fan screening in addition to press — and the crowd was feeling it, too. When you go into a film like this, one that’s being made for the fans, that’s all you want.
“Deadpool” is in theatres Friday February 12.
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