The ‘Merc with the Mouth’ made his Valentine’s Weekend debut and probably upset a large number of naive parents and children. Our Online Entertainment Editor takes a look at Deadpool.
An issue that’s pervasive with comic relief characters is that a central focus on their premise is always difficult, as their presence wears thin when trying to uphold a nearly two hour story. Take Captain Jack Sparrow in the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie (remember there was a fourth one?); storytelling was traded out in favour of an easily marketable, digestibly comical bender from which no one benefitted. Luckily, with one of Marvel’s riskier franchises, Deadpool brings a new touch to the origin story and has time to look into the lens with a juvenile grin whilst making jokes about getting kicked in the ‘nads.
Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is a morally bankrupt mercenary for hire with a sharp wit and twisted sense of humour, who falls in love with Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), equally depraved in character, but a beacon of redemption for the damnable Wade. Wilson is then diagnosed with multiple terminal cancers and as a last resort, turns to the Weapon X program (the same program that gave Wolverine his powers) in order to cure it. The ensuing experiments mutate his cancer cells and provide him with a healing factor, but horribly disfigure him in the process. Swearing vengeance, Wade Wilson adopts the moniker ‘Deadpool’ and goes after the man who kidnapped his girlfriend and gave him his ghastly appearance, Ajax (Ed Skrein).
Deadpool’s vulgarity and refreshingly un-kid friendly subject matter is what makes it stand out in an endless quagmire of merchandisable superhero franchises. On paper, it’s understandable why a studio would be so hesitant in giving the green light; gratuitous violence, self-deprecation and fourth wall breaking are a bad formula to add to a universe that just wants to be taken seriously (The X-Men Universe in this case, not the Avengers), but Deadpool has been a fan favourite for all these reasons and more. It’s hard to imagine that this film was little more than failed test footage until it was leaked and the final product does its utmost to maintain the tonality that got long-time fans hyped and Fox executives listening.
Unlike other superhero films, Deadpool tells its origin story through extended flashbacks interjected throughout its narrative, helping to ease the consistency of its pacing. An extended fight scene at the start of the film dumps most of the exposition in the beginning, wasting no time in getting to the wisecracks and ass-kicking. It isn’t without its flaws, though, as it suffers the pitfalls of conflating self-awareness with good writing, when all it does is highlight the unoriginality in the sum of its elements. The highway firefight between abandoned cars, sleazy strip club scenes and scrapyard fisticuffs all make an appearance, for instance. But in its defence, Deadpool has always been a character that centres focus rather than becoming part of the peripheral intake of endless fight sequences. The stagnancy of the film’s backdrops only accentuate Wade Wilson’s erraticism as he addresses each of the elephants in whichever scene he finds himself in.
Deadpool’s character requires a knack for comic timing and Ryan Reynolds as the titular anti-hero is a perfect embodiment of the character. As Tony Stark in Iron Man was an excellent showcase for Robert Downey Jr., the same can be said for Mr Reynolds, who wears his costume with incredible confidence. For an actor that has had a consecutive series of flops (some of which Deadpool addresses), it’s nice to see that Ryan Reynolds has found the part he was arguably born to play. The problem with Deadpool being a one-man show is the ensemble cast are given little time to flex their muscles. One such example is Colossus, whose purpose is to create a ‘lawful good’ to Deadpool’s ‘chaotic neutral’, but is left underused until the film’s explosive climax. Ajax as an antagonist works fine as a magnet for which Deadpool can point his moral compass but he falls short of being a great villain if only because of his generic motives.
Deadpool’s long and complicated production history is a labour of love that has clearly won in any possible disputes between the studio and the film’s creators. In maintaining the roots of the character, Deadpool has succeeded in showing that freedom with a creative license can ultimately make a good movie. For all its flaws, it’s still certainly one of the better superhero movies to come out recently which is an impressive feat, considering the sheer volume of Marvel and DC properties that are being pumped out to the lowest common denominator. Don’t make any assumptions that this is anything more than a juvenile action comedy, but that’s all Deadpool ever needed to be.
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, TJ Miller
Directed by: Tim Miller
Screenplay: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: February 12th 2016