I went to watch this movie with expecting a slapstick comedy with superheroes. The promotion was impressive but given Ryan Reynold’s two previous ventures into comic-book movies I was a little less hopeful.
Deadpool is a satire on comic book movies. As a comic book character that breaks 4th walls, he is the parody of everything superhero. Deadpool is the brilliance of Marvel comics and shows their balls to take jabs on their work. The movie might have been directed by Tim Miller but the truth is that Deadpool belongs to only and only Ryan Reynolds. As the movie is concerned, Deadpool breaks all the rules of Superhero and adopts only those jokes and gags that draw out the most amount of ‘WTF’s from the crowd, and in doing so, gives us one of the most faithful comic-book adaptations to date.
Deliciously meta and embracing the irresponsible, and goofy persona of its superhero (as well as the actor who portrays him), Deadpool is the kind of superhero that no matter who tries to make it with another character, you are not going to get as faithful as this one. It was a unique creation when it came to Marvel Comics in 1991, and succeeds in gleefully shocking cinema audiences in 2016.
Created by Rob Liefield and Fabian Nicieza as a parody of DC Comics’ Deathstroke, Deadpool is Wade Wilson, expert swordsman and mercenary who came out the other end of cancer with a regenerative mutation. He is armed with the Wikipedia of pop culture references and is the one who never plays by the rules. In Tim Miller’s cinematic take, Wade (Ryan Reynolds) falls in twisted love with Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) – a match made in heaven. Wade hangs out at an assassin’s bar run by Weasel (T J Miller), the closest thing he has to a friend. Then one fine day, when cancer comes a-knocking at his door, so does a mysterious man with the promise of curing his ailment in exchange for being part of a superhuman experiment. We all know what happens next.
As a movie it follows a plot which is pretty straight-forward, but what makes Deadpool magical is how it gets the beat of that narrative. A large part of this is owed to Ryan Reynolds, himself born to play the Regenerating Degenerate, who has almost single-handedly resurrected the character from Origins: Wolverine hell, marking it as his own to play with. The movie has everything to offend you. The dick jokes, the fourth-wall-breaking, and the delightful references – he’s got it all down to the dot, and we’re along for the ride, which is as entertaining as it can be. This is an incredibly self-aware film, perhaps even the most self-aware one there is, landing meta punches right from the opening credits and not letting up till the protagonist shoos you out of your seats in the post-credits scene. Tim Miller and Ryan Reynolds could not have asked for better timing with this film, as 2016 cements the superhero genre in the future of cinema for years to come. Deadpool manages to pick on the obvious trends that plague the genre today, from clichéd hero landings to franchises that birth confusing timelines. Are the villains pretty generic? Yes. Does the plot hit all the usual beats of a superhero film? Yes. But it doesn’t matter, since it’s how Deadpool reacts to each of these things that make this film a masterpiece.
The R Rating of the movie was a risk but it turned out to be the biggest blessing. Being a character notorious for his unmatched ability to creep out the likes of Wolverine and Spider-Man, the red-clad prankster cannot be done justice without crossing the lines. However, the R-rating isn’t here to simply service the crass humour, but to stay true to Deadpool’s other character essence – his gleeful bloodlust, showcased to the maximum in the highway sequence toward the beginning of the film. Above and beyond his regenerative mutation, what makes this wise-cracking antihero a force to be reckoned with is his way with guns and swords, coupled with a conscience that is the polar opposite of Batman. Deadpool makes full use of the faculties of its protagonist and delivers to us meaty, excellently directed action scenes that blend gore and comedy so well that it’s impossible to take your eyes off the screen.
You’ll also no doubt have heard that Deadpool has become the biggest grossing R-rated film (that’s the US equivalent of our ’18’ certificate, though curiously Deadpool only has a ’15’ rating here) ever released, and was shot on a budget of approximately $58million, about a quarter of the budget for the last X-Men film, Days of Future Past, opening up some interesting possibilities on a series of lower-budget comic-book movies – something which must be tempting for studios.
Ryan Reynolds’ acting persona can be a bit marmite, but he embraces that here with enthusiasm and sufficient self-depreciation that ought to win over even his most harshest of critics. Reynolds’ turn makes the film, his personality barely concealed by the leather suit and deeply infectious. His campy stylings throw his enemies and warm viewers; they also hint at a sexual ambiguity present in the character. Deadpool is on record as having a fluid sexuality, something that sets the character out further as part of the alternative counter-culture, though this film does tend towards heteronormative relationships.
Ed Skrein makes for an engaging foil, even if he is the latest in a long line of British bad guys in American movies. There’s a sparkle to his playoffs with Reynolds which reminds us of the childlike quality of many cinematic squabbles.
The female members of the cast remain somewhat underused – Morena Baccarin makes for a feisty love interest, but Brianna Hildebrand (Teenage Negasonic Warhead) and Gina Carano (villainous Angel Dust) are powerhouses, but effectively mute making them little more than tools. Considering recent conversations about female characters in sci-fi and fantasy (eg. the Star Wars: The Force Awakens debacle) one would have expected better – particularly as there’s a clever moment of concealment during a fight with Angel. The writers clearly know what’s going on, but while they call it out, they’ve yet to redress it.
Ultimately though, Deadpool is a rich text, and the most interesting comic adaptation in years, rewarding multiple viewings, which has buoyed the coffers of the studio. Deadpool 2 is eagerly awaited, but has much to live up to.