Starring Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein and even more Ryan Reynolds
Written by: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick; based on characters created by Fabian Nicieza and Rob ‘I Can’t Draw Feet’ Liefeld
Directed by: Tim Miller
Rated ‘R’ for holy balls, that’s a lot of violence and swearing and I thought this was a superhero movie?
Runtime 104 minutes (I know, right?)
Why? Why? How? And why? An uberviolent, hard R ‘superhero’ movie, released in February – the month movies die on the vine – has broken all sorts of box office records. How did it do that? No doubt Deadpool, now Fox’s (reluctant) golden child, succeeded in spite of its release date – what else are you really going to see this month anyways? And lord knows the marketing has been on point, teasing people into rushing toward the theater. No doubt men in white shirts are hard at work in labs with beakers and bunsen burners, a dusty chalkboard scrawled with chicken scratch equations, desperately breaking down the very scientific reasons why Deadpool is so huge. While I love this melding of creativity and scoence, I think the forest is being missed as we gaze at the trees:
Fuck me, this is a fun goddamned movie.
I love the Marvel films. I love how they have changed the game – for better and worse. I love the tone, the charm, but even I know they’re basically the same movie. They average out the teams behind them; beyond Avengers 1, there are no outright awful Marvel films, and no truly magnificent ones. Solid all around, to varying degrees. Deadpool, created outside the direct Marvel line, injects an overdose of fun into the formula. In fact, it turns everything up to 11: the language, the sex (nudity in a comic movie? What do I tell the children?!), the crooked morality, the violence and, most importantly, the chemistry, romance and enjoyment. Ever leave a superhero movie wishing they’d put their foot on the gas? Go see Deadpool.
Ryan Reynolds, welcome to the club. After a terrible attempt at the character already (X-Men: Origins) and a failed launch of another series (Green Lantern), you have your own superhero franchise at last! I can think of no better marriage between actor and character than you and Wade Wilson aka Deadpool aka The Merc with the Mouth. It is as if Rob Liefield created him with you in mind damn near twenty years ago. Reynolds, you never take yourself too seriously, neither does DP. Nor does the movie, which despite its thoroughly savage brutality is, as one reviewer put it, ‘the most violent Bugs Bunny cartoon.’ Ultra-violence does not mean ultra-dark, and don’t tell me you wouldn’t be stoked if Batman v Superman had its heroes exercising a little fun from time to time?
Most heroes pick up the costume as a burden, a noble calling that only they can pursue. Wilson, after doing the right thing for the right reasons in completely the wrong way, gets screwed over, tortured and disfigured by Ajax (Ed Skrein, the original Daario from Game of Thrones) and decides not on nobility, but bloody, bloody revenge. Come to think of it, despite the pleadings of a very dour Colossus of the X-Men, Deadpool isn’t much of a hero at all. Given the bodycount and the disregard for murder, neither are the X-Men for that matter.
People are going to remember the crazy violence, Ryan Reynolds’ demeanor, wit, fourth wall breaking (and 16 wall breaking) and the over-the-top absurdity of it all. What I also hope they remember is that, at its core, Deadpool is kind of a love story about growing up, settling down and the simple pleasures of COMMUNICATING (or not, as is more often the case). Reynolds and Morena Baccarin (Innara) have dynamite chemistry, both in personality and sexuality – their courtship scenes and the whole Calendar Girl montage are simply wonderful. But man, none of the violence had to occur if Wade had just talked to Vanessa. Sure, there would still have been a need for revenge, but of course Vanessa still loves you despite your face! You’re sti an adolescent male fantasy, Deadpool. You can behave like a petulant child, get a looooot of people killed, run out on your girl, get your revenge and get her back in the end and it’s fine! You even get a sequel with Cable. Cable!
What’s drama if everyone said everything they feel and think and want to do to everyone else? Boring, that’s what.
Okay, the next is for all the parents out there. I know, little Radish and Kale are super advanced for their age. They know what swear words are, know what sex is and have been fast tracked to the Ivy League since before you even put in the $20,000 downpayment just to get into the public school lottery (we’re assuming everyone lives in New York). And most of all, they love comic books and superheroes. Great! That’s awesome.
But please for the love of god, do not take them to this movie. Comic book films have violence, but there’s never any outright savagery involved. Little blood, few maimings and certainly no beheadings. Deadpool delivers all of these within the first ten minutes. The action is a little hard to follow at time; perhaps to avoid an outright NC-17 rating, they tossed the camera around and edited the action to within an inch of its life. But the brutality of the film shines through. Deadpool, in one of his many wall breaking moments, even admits that what he’s doing, while righteous to him, is murder, plain and simple.
While the film’s main villain Ajax and his compatriot Angel (Gina Carano) are not the most enlivening of antagonists (Marvel films are basically 1 and…whatever the total number of Marvel films minus 1 is), they are perfectly capable of being sadistic assholes. They don’t need to be more entertaining, because Ryan Reynolds provides enough humor and charm – even while killing a lot of people – to carry the film.
In the wake of Deadpool’s massive success, studio heads have been desperately trying to lay claim to the reasons for its box office. They are largely a non-factor, and their involvement ends at the amount of $ they toss at the sequel. Beyond that, it’s three simple ideas: make a good movie, that people want to see and believe in the ever-loving fuck out of it.