by Coop Cooper
Every couple of years or so, a superhero movie comes along that defies expectations and completely stuns everyone with its originality and success. In 2010, “Kick-Ass” proved that a R-rated superhero movie could become a blockbuster. In 2014, Marvel proved they could take one of its minor properties and turn it into a Star Wars-like epic with “Guardians of the Galaxy”. Now Fox Studios has done the same with one of its minor Marvel properties, making a self-referential, gory, raunchy hit with “Deadpool”.
Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is an ex-soldier turned freelance gun-for-hire who takes low-profile jobs and wastes the rest of his time at a local bar/club for hitmen. He meets Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), a prostitute who shares his outrageously sarcastic sense of humor and they quickly fall in love. When Wade finds out he has terminal cancer, he abandons Vanessa and accepts an offer from a shadowy group that claims not only can they cure his cancer, but they can unlock his latent mutant genes to give him superhero powers. Desperate, Wade takes the offer but is double-crossed by Ajax (Ed Skrein), a mutant who creates other mutants through torture and drugs, enslaves them and sells them off as brainwashed mercenaries. Ajax disfigures and transforms Wade who escapes and goes on a one-man revenge campaign to destroy Ajax and his operation. As Wade agonizes over whether to reach out to a grieving Vanessa, his destructive rampage catches the attention of the X-Men who intend to stop his destructive spree and recruit him.
I don’t think “Deadpool” was what I, or anyone else, expected. It manages to break just about every rule of a comic book movie. It makes fun of comic book clichés, it constantly breaks the fourth wall, it makes fun of Ryan Reynolds as an actor, it pokes fun at Reynold’s role as Green Lantern, it satirizes traditional superhero morals and it even acknowledges that it IS a movie. The whole thing is so meta and clever, it cannot be described, only experienced. It is also very R-rated. People who mistakenly brought their kids to see it were probably shocked at the cursing, nudity and gore, but like I said… There is no other superhero movie like this. The blending of this bizarre, self-referential storytelling should not merge at all with the world of the X-Men, yet somehow it all works.
After failing multiple times in other superhero movies, Ryan Reynolds has finally found his niche in the genre. Known as the ‘Merc with a Mouth’, Deadpool’s humor and Reynold’s style of comedy were the perfect match. Although both actor and character were criminally misused in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” (this film makes fun of that mistake!), both have not only been redeemed, but have surpassed all expectations. It’s also great to see the X-Men tie-in, using another underutilized team member, Colossus (Stephan Kapicic), and a new character, Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) who is probably present to tie The New Mutants team into the FoxStudios/Marvel mythology. Their parts aren’t small and are often the butt of Deadpool’s jokes about the X-Men franchise. At one point, Colossus grabs Deadpool and tells him they are taking him to see Professor X to which Deadpool replies, “McAvoy or Stewart?” That’s pretty funny and a good example of how self-referential the film gets.
“Guardians of the Galaxy” director James Gunn has already stated he worries about what the success of “Deadpool” will have on future comic book films, citing that he has already heard from one studio executive who thinks it means all future superhero films should be done in the same style. I’m a little less pessimistic than Gunn as I believe the industry has learned a lot from their successes and failures already. Marvel is going in the right direction with all of their properties. Fox has been on shaky ground with their Marvel property rights (“Wolverine”, “Fantastic Four”, “X-Men: Last Stand”), but “Deadpool” seems to be a very welcome step in the right direction for them. We will see if D.C. Comics can get their act together with “Superman vs. Batman” and “Suicide Squad” this year – although fans seem to only be holding out some hope for “Suicide Squad” and not the other. “Deadpool” is its own style. It may be imitated, but what I really think it will do is encourage the makers of comic book films to continue thinking outside of the box.
Another positive I noticed in “Deadpool” was that the villains appeared to be using a crashed S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier as a base. Fox doesn’t own any Marvel properties tied to S.H.I.E.L.D. So I believe they are telegraphing to Marvel that they are open to overlap with the other Marvel franchises. A good sign since Marvel has already negotiated with Sony Pictures to bring Spider-Man into “Captain America: Civil War” which releases on May 6. Perhaps we are about reach a point where Marvel could finally all come together in a way that D.C. Comics never could.
“Deadpool” is an instant hit and will not only spawn sequels, but will add a breath of fresh air into the upcoming X-Men films and TV ventures. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve just discovered that I own the very first comic that Deadpool appeared in (New Mutants #98 from 1991). I’m going to go read it.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars