[dropcap]I[/dropcap] ’ve been skeptical of Deadpool for quite a while. In the wrong hands, the character is juvenile, unfunny, grating, obnoxious, the adjectives go on. Repetitive jokes about chimichangas, lack of emotional depth and a tendency to lean hard on the 4th wall breaking led me to keep my distance from the character during Daniel Way’s long-time and confusingly popular run on the character. That said, I enjoyed him in a run called Uncanny X-Force by Rick Remender – Deadpool was now deeply disturbed, flawed and self-aware, whose endless jokes and shit-talking seemed like more of a defensive shield than an annoying awareness of the character’s audience demographic.
It surprises and pleases me to say that Ryan Reynolds’ take on Deadpool takes inspiration from this, and is now one of the two versions of the character I actually like. From the trailers, the film appeared just as juvenile and unfunny as Daniel Way’s version of the character, and I approached my viewing with caution. It really looked like it was trying too hard. But, fortunately and surprisingly, Deadpool is actually quite the success. The jokes are relentless (in a good way, most of them land), the action is flashy and entertaining, and the plot, while somewhat simple, is still satisfying. Deadpool the character is a fair amount more than a 4th wall breaking punchline machine, his personality in the present strongly informed by a tragic backstory told through intermittent flashbacks.
The film opens in the midst of an action scene on a motorway, in a giant, CGI spectacle freeze-frame that lampshades the blockbuster hallmarks that the film partakes in – starring ‘a hot chick’ and featuring ‘a gratuitous cameo’. While the film simply displays self awareness of these traits than outright changing them, the (very) explicit humour and surprisingly touching backstory make the film more than worth a watch.
The film is more invested in giving the audience a good time, and finally undoing the foul taste that X-Men Origins: Wolverine left in our mouths. In that respect, Deadpool is a success.
Monica Baccarin is more or less pigeon-holed as the Love Interest, but she is given plenty to work with – firing off repartee with Reynolds and more than holding her own, bringing fun to what could be a fairly run-of-the-mill movie relationship. The supporting cast of Deadpool also helps to ground the insane character – Colossus (Yorick Van Wageningen) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) acting as good straight-men to the Merc with a Mouth, and TJ Miller’s Weasel and Leslie Uggam’s Blind Al serving as a great comedic foil to Reynolds.
The villains are fairly uninteresting, but solid. Ed Skrien’s Ajax (or ‘Francis’) is a bland British punching bag, who is more an object of revenge than an actual character that requires audience attention; while his henchwoman ‘Angel’ (Gina Carano) is basically a scowl and some fists. At the very least, they allow for some fun action sequences and do an adequate job of seeming at least a little bit imposing. The main problem with Deadpool is that his primary power is basically immortality and invulnerability, so the stakes never really feel all that high.
However, this seems almost beside the point of the film. The final act is very deliberately a lower stakes affair than other superhero films of late, the main character blatantly uninterested in saving the world. It’s not out to change everything, it’s not even out to bring down the superhero film as we know it. The film is more invested in giving the audience a good time, and finally undoing the foul taste that X-Men Origins: Wolverine left in our mouths. In that respect, Deadpool is a success.
Director: Tim Miller
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, T.J. Miller, Yorick Van Wageningen, Gina Carano, Brianna Hildebrand
Running time: 100 minutes