Benjamin has been reviewing films online since 2004 and has seen way more action movies than he should probably admit to!
What's the Big Deal?
Deadpool is an action superhero film released in 2016 and is based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name created by Fabian Nicieza and Rob Liefeld. The directorial debut of Tim Miller, the film is the eighth entry in 20th Century Fox's X-Men series, which separates it from Marvel's own Cinematic Universe (the MCU). The film stars Ryan Reynolds as the title character who hunts for those responsible for both his mutant powers and his horrific disfigurement. The movie also stars Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, TJ Miller, and Gina Carano and had been in development since 2004.
The character first appeared in the poorly received X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Driven by that movie's backlash from fans as well as a desire to see the character brought to life properly, Reynolds worked alongside scriptwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick to ensure a faithful interpretation of the comics. The result is a superhero film that reflects the more adult aspects of the character—extreme violence, foul language, irreverent humour and material definitely not suited to family viewing.
What's It About?
Former Special Ops and mercenary-for-hire Wade Wilson is bobbing around the dregs of society fulfilling odd jobs here and there from his base of operations, a bar called Sister Margaret's School for Wayward Children. However, his world is forever changed when he meets escort Vanessa, whom he falls for instantly due to a shared and warped sense of humour. However, the couple is dealt a serious blow when Wade is diagnosed with terminal cancer. With seemingly little time left, Wade leaves Vanessa to prevent her from seeing him wither away.
Before long, Wade is connected at the bar by a mysterious recruiter who promises to be able to not just cure him but imbue him with abilities beyond that of normal people. Reluctantly, Wade signs on but quickly discovers that the process involves brutal experimentation at the hands of sadistic mutant Ajax. After holding out for as long as he can, Wade succumbs to the mutation which renders him almost completely indestructible but grossly disfigured. Determined to have his revenge, Wade escapes and tracks down those responsible and, if possible, have as much fun doing it.
What's to Like?
Even Marvel's most ardent fans might admit that some of their more recent efforts have become formulaic but there is no such danger here. Due to the character's inherent wackiness, Deadpool offers audiences desperate for something different a rude and very adult offering. Reynolds' determination to bring the character to life properly after his bizarre cameo appearance in X-Men Origins: Wolverine pays in dividends here with a film that delightfully pokes fun at the whole genre while entertaining its own audience. You can tell he's really having fun as the merc with the mouth, primarily because the audience is having so much fun. This is probably the most enjoyable Marvel movie outside of the Guardians of the Galaxy series.
But it isn't just about having a hero character engage in ultra-violent action scenes and swear like a dockworker. The film pokes fun at the superhero genre in general, mocking not just the conventions but also the X-Men franchise as a whole, Hugh Jackman and even its own lead actor. Dialogue is delivered at a machine-gun pace with Reynolds proving that he can hold his own against Robert Downey Jr's Tony Stark. Frankly, it's good to have a film of this type stand out from the crowd—not by doing anything radically different but just by being a huge amount of fun, even if it's a film that is strictly for adults.
- After 20th Century Fox refused to pay scriptwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick for any on-set input, Reynolds decided to pay them out of his own pocket. In total, the pair were involved with the project for six years.
- When Wade asks for his supersuit not to be green or animated, this is a not-so-subtle reference to his previous comic-book appearance in Green Lantern and its director, Martin Campbell, who Reynolds did not get on with.
- The opening credits appear as though presented by Deadpool himself. These were originally a placeholder for the actual credits but it was decided to keep them in, especially as it allowed the filmmakers to circumvent actor and crew guild rules regarding credits.
What's Not to Like?
With Reynolds running off with the limelight, it does highlight some less-than-stellar turns from the supporting cast. Skrein is particular is a weak baddie, feeling little more than your standard British bad guy and certainly not nearly as interesting as Carano as Angel Dust (who is sadly underused). The same can be said for the only two actual X-Men to appear in the film; the dynamic between Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead is an interesting one but we don't really explore that relationship.
The story is a little lacking in depth but suits the light-hearted tone of the film well enough. But there is so much material in here that it does demand multiple viewings. It's a bit like Airplane! where you struggle to get every sight gag or one-liner on the first viewing. Given how many references are crammed into Deadpool, I bet it will take at least another two viewings to catch everything.
Should I Watch It?
Deadpool is a very violent, gore-soaked look at a genre that has quickly become family-friendly and sanitised. Being free from the shackles of the MCU allows this movie to give the character all the edginess it demands, bringing every facet of the character in the comics to life on the big screen. It also purges the memory of the botched job they made in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Reynolds must be congratulated for sticking with the role and seeing it done properly. Chimichangas all round!
Great For: Fans of the character, viewers becoming bored with the MCU, potheads.
Not So Great For: Younger viewers, Catholics.
What Else Should I Watch?
Until a film adaptation of DC's Lobo escapes from development hell (where it has been since 2009), Deadpool stands an ugly head-and-shoulders above most of its contemporaries. Few other characters can match this movie for adult superhero hijinks with the possible exception of Jackman's swansong as Wolverine, Logan, which is much less fun than this (though no worse because of it). Most of the time, superhero films aim for a much more family-friendly rating for everyone to enjoy which is perhaps part of the reason why we have yet to see a decent version of The Punisher outside of the Daredevil TV show.
The fact that this movie works equally well as a comedy is a testament to Reynolds' performance as well as the strength of the character. While many superhero films focus on character development and nerd-pleasing in-jokes, Guardians of the Galaxy is also a very funny film thanks to some fine work from Chris Pratt, Bradley Cooper as Rocket Raccoon and Dave Bautista. But it still finds the time to tell a great story and has a damn fine soundtrack to boot.
Wade Wilson / Deadpool
Ajax / Francis Freeman
Negasonic Teenage Warhead
Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick *
Release Date (UK)
10th February, 2016
Action, Comedy, Sci-Fi, Superhero
© 2017 Benjamin Cox