Crime’s the disease. Meet the cure…
When test footage of Ryan Reynolds kicking major ass as the Canadian mercenary Deadpool was first leaked in July 2014, fans of the comic book anti-hero were ecstatic. Finally, an accurately depicted, hilarious, fourth-wall-breaking-smartass, up there on the big-screen in all his gory and witty glory. The way he was always meant to be. Those five short minutes alone were almost enough to forgive and forget the absolute bastardization of the character in 2008’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Almost.
And so the internet blew up. Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and other social-media platforms were flooded with requests and demands that this film be made already. Along with that and Ryan Reynolds’ campaigning over the years, 20th Century FOX finally made the smart decision. And so, Deadpool began production.
Cue the music!
For a year and a half, scraps of information and set photos whet the appetite of fans, everyone eager for any and all things Deadpool, one question being raised time and time again – would it live up to the hype? The general consensus would seem to indicate that, yes. It would.
Directed by An Overpaid Tool, starring God’s Perfect Idiot, A Hot Chick, and The Comic Relief and written by The Real Heroes Here, in typical origin-story fashion, we’re introduced to Deadpool before he became the wise-cracking, crimson-clad mercenary. Wade Wilson, an ex-special-forces-operative-turned-merc-for-hire is living in New York City, taking up jobs fighting for the little guy and scaring the crap outta creeps. A job he does remarkably well and with comical (see what I did there?) results. One night, after a job, he meets an alluring woman, Vanessa Carlyle, and the two begin dating.
What follows is a holiday-sex montage, consisting of the kinks and quirks associated with the couple, swiftly shadowed (in true Deadpool style) by tragedy. Wade has cancer – in his liver, lungs, prostate and brain; you know, all the things he can live without.
Enter stage right, Shady Character #1.
Wade, aptly dubbing him ‘Agent Smith’ (to the delight of Matrix fans everywhere) listens to the offer that seems too good to be true – they can not only fix him, but make him into a superhero.
Enter stage left, Shady Character #2 and our British Villain, the sadistic scientist/torturer, Ajax. Remember that name, folks. There’ll be a pop quiz and if you call him anything else…you’ll end up like poor Wade.
Thus begins a tale as old as time: the relentless yearning for revenge. Wade, horrified by what has been done to him, embarks on a chaotic murder-spree to hunt down those responsible and so he becomes – Deadpool.
Those who have known Reynolds only from his rom-coms (The Proposal, Just Friends, Definitely Maybe) and (shudder) his past superhero explorations (X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Green Lantern) will be pleasantly surprised by his performance in the darker, sombre moments in the plot. Not only does he nail (heh) the comedic timing and energetic nature of Deadpool, but he also encapsulates the emotional, physical and mental anguish that the character endures.
A fourth-wall-break within a fourth-wall-break? That’s like, sixteen walls!
To list everything that Deadpool does right would end up being longer than Wade’s (CENSORED). Everything from the many pop-culture references, to the delight that is Blind Al (Leslie Uggams) to the banter with witty Weasel (T.J. Miller) and of course, what could be considered Stan Lee’s best cameo yet. But in saying that, it (like its protagonist) isn’t flawless.
Adapting from the comic books, the sheer potential for what Deadpool could have done, was vast. And by and large, it set out exactly what the trailer promised us. It was a fun, campy flick complete with violence and unique swearing.
However, it is not immune to the pitfalls of its superhero film predecessors. It is quite formulaic in its structure, ticking every beat of the genre like a well-worn instruction manual. Man is reluctant to see himself as a hero (like Spider-Man and Bruce Banner), doesn’t think he’s worthy because of his shady past (like Black Widow and Ant-Man) until he meets a bunch of lovable and enigmatic weirdos that make it their mission to change his mind (like the X-Men – or rather, actually the X-Men in this case, Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead.)
The film does poke fun a little at this particular structuring with the opening credits and Reynold’s hilarious ad-lib of why there are only ever two X-Men seen on screen, and that does slightly redeem the threadbare path the film follows, narratively-speaking. And, to be fair, such tropes are hard to avoid if a faithful (which Deadpool is) adaptation is to be achieved, considering comic-book origin-stories tend to be damn-near identical. So, it can be forgiven in this case.
With great power, comes great irresponsibility…
When promoting X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Reynolds stated that his dream would be to do ‘an absolutely, 100% faithful Deadpool adaptation. Straight out of the comic books. Breaking the fourth wall. Pop culture references. Knows he’s in a movie. Knows he’s in a comic book. You know, that kinda vibe. That would be a dream come true for me.’
Well, all that is left to say is…bravo, sir. Mission accomplished.
Deadpool does exactly what it set out to do, that was evident from the many trailers, teasers and genius promotional marketing even before its debut. Could it have certainly gone harder with the meta-references, gore, violence, swearing etc.? Probably. But considering what a huge risk this film was considered to be (an R-rated superhero movie) it is understandable why they may have played it a tiny bit safe.
But that doesn’t stop it from being great. The fact that it is on track to be the highest-grossing R-rated movie in cinematic history, certainly cements that. And it definitely doesn’t give the general audience an overwhelming sense that they played too safe, in reality, it only helps promise where they could go with the sequel, which thankfully, has just been green-lit.
So, Deadpool…not only is it is a dream come true for Ryan Reynolds but comic and cinema fans alike, setting a high bar for other films due for release in 2016. I rate it nine chimichangas out of ten. I would have rated it ten, but I’ve yet to get Careless Whisper out of my head and no amount of love for the merc-with-the-mouth can ever excuse that…