First of all, if you take your 8 year old to see this movie you are a horrible person. I mean, not to cast a blanket on the whole thing but…well here, just take it from the man himself.
Deadpool, the Marvel Comics character, is an irreverent, gun-toting, sword/knife wielding antihero mercenary. He is, to the best of my knowledge, the only character in the Marvel universe who is aware he’s a comic book character. He frequently breaks the fourth wall and addresses the readers, disses his writers/artists and just all around jokes around about his comic status. He’s one of the most unique characters in all of comics but due to his violent nature it was never imagined that he would ever make his way into a mainstream comic book movie, much less a solo film.
And yet here we are. How did we get here?
To start with there’s Ryan Reynolds. One Deadpool comic years ago described the titular character as looking like a cross between Ryan Reynolds and a Shar Pei. So who better to cast than he. And that’s just what the creators of the movie X-Men Origins: Wolverine did. They cast Ryan Reynolds to play the villain’s role of Deadpool. That movie kept the bare bones of his comic book origin story, making Wade Wilson a member of the Weapon X program, along with Logan (Wolverine). In the movie he was a wisecracking, katana wielding jerk, so that part was pretty accurate too. Where the movie differed from the source material came at the climax of the film where Wilson had his mutant powers combined will all the other mutants. They called him “The Deadpool” because they “pooled” all the other powers together to make him. Or something. I dunno, it sucked.
They also sewed his mouth shut.
They took away the one thing that makes Deadpool, Deadpool: They took away his mouth. I mean the guy’s nickname is “The Merc with the Mouth.”
The less said about X-Men Origins the better. In the end, the movie flopped and everyone sort of forgot about Deadpool. Except Ryan Reynolds. He lobbied and pushed and begged for another chance to do the character justice. After almost a decade, we have the fruits of his labor before us.
And true to the character it is. This movie is vulgar, irreverent, graphic, lewd, crude and tattooed. It is the perfect Deadpool movie, though. Right away, from the opening seconds you feel the tone of the movie. It refuses to take itself seriously, even as its “hero” is slicing and dicing through people. The visuals are in your face just like the one-liners. The soundtrack is playful too (you never would have thought “Angel of the Morning” would fit so well in this kind of a movie, but here we are).
And then there’s the costume. While Bryan Singer’s X-Men movies are still rocking the outdated black leather look (even while Captain America is draped in red, white and blue, and Batman looks like he stepped right off the comic page), Deadpool is spot-on, with his red and black outfit translated exactly to the screen. They even used the white eyes (and they’re expressive too!), which is something I’ve wanted in a Batman movie since…ever.
All that being said, what about the movie itself? What did I just watch?
I watched a very well made, but very by-the-book origin story…that wears a veneer of vulgarity the likes of which comic book movies have never seen.
Strip away the language, the violence and the graphic content, and you have a very ordinary comic book origin story. Sure it starts in media res and it breaks the fourth wall in several different ways, but that’s all sizzle. The actual steak of the movie is nothing remarkable. In fact, without the dazzle to hide it, this movie has a few problems, mainly having to do with the villain.
Unlike in the comics, Wade doesn’t get his mutant powers via the Weapon X program. Instead he is recruited by a man promising to cure his cancer (spoiler alert for newbies, Wade Wilson has cancer and his mutation is what keeps him alive…and more). Wade agrees to go along with what sounds like a quid pro quo: They cure his cancer and in return he works for them as a superhero. I guess that’s just a line they tell all the guys because when he goes to see the mysterious people, he’s immediately harnessed and endlessly tortured in order to trigger his mutation for the first time. Once that happens, the side effect is a horribly disfigured body that looks like a cross between a burn victim and the worst pepperoni pizza you’ve ever had.
Wade, who was already skilled in combat from his days as a low level mercenary-for-hire, goes on a revenge binge, hunting down the people who disfigured him, especially the doctor who did most of the dirty work. The problem is the villain is paper thin. We’re given no clear understanding of who he is, why he does what he does, what he hopes to gain from it, etc. He’s just there to be hunted, fought and ultimately (spoilers) defeated. Again, you don’t mind this, even though it should be a serious flaw, because the movie is moving so fast and having so much fun you don’t notice it. But it is there, and it will probably be a more obvious problem in repeated viewings.
No movie is perfect and really all you can ask for is that the good outweigh the bad and that there be some occasional great moments to make you remember it. This movie fits the bill. There’s a mid-point fight between Deadpool and X-Man Colossus where our “hero” learns the hard way why punching and kicking the big silver mutant is the worst way to beat him in a fight.
That moment is actually the hub of the movie as the film begins there, rewinds to reveal some backstory, jumps forward to continue the action, jumps back again to give us more backstory, and then finally catches us up to the present as the movie sprints to its final act. On paper it’s dizzying and confusing, but the movie handles its timeline perfectly and its a great credit to first-time director Tim Miller that the movie never gets bogged down in its own storytelling.
Should you see Deadpool? That depends on what you’re looking for. This isn’t a typical Marvel superhero film. It’s not your run of the mill action movie or revenge flick either. It’s an R-rated movie that earns its rating, but never feels so horrible that its humor gets lost amidst the violence and gore.
8/10 – It’s a fun movie to see in a packed theater full of fans, but I question if it’ll hold up on repeated viewings.
For the love of all that is good do not take your kids to see this movie.