Alright nerds you can calm down now. You finally got the Deadpool movie you thought you’d never see. After a disastrous mishandling of the character in 2009’s “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” followed by a starring role in the “Green Lantern” flop, it seemed like Ryan Reynolds’ dream project of bringing the X-Men character, Deadpool, to life would never happen. Of course leaking the test footage (found here) for the hard R-rated version of your dream project onto Youtube seems to have been the right move. Shortly after the rejected test footage hit the web in the summer of 2014, Deadpool fans spread the clip like wild-fire and it apparently garnered enough attention to get the studios to rethink their handling of the character. Fast forward to February 2016 and the anti-superhero movie that seemed like it would never get made, let alone get made well, has hit theaters. Was it worth the wait and the hype? Surprisingly, yeah, it was.
For those of you who may not be aware of who Deadpool is (and if you’re not why don’t you just go on and read a comic book or do a quick wikipedia search) I’ll give you my short, casual nerd’s breakdown on him. OK so Deadpool’s real name is Wade Wilson. He’s a Marvel character meaning he lives alongside Spider-man, the X-Men, the Avengers and all those guys. (No Superman or Batman here, that’s next month’s problem.) He’s also a mutant which puts him firmly in the X-Men camp and under 20th Century Fox’s legal umbrella (so no Avengers team up anytime soon) and his key mutant power is that he can heal from just about anything the writers throw at him. His other power that truly sets him apart from any other comic book superhero out there is that he constantly demolishes the fourth wall. (What’s the fourth wall you say? This is. Me talking to you. But now picture I’m a fictional character who knows I’m a fictional character and I either make reference to that or speak to the viewer or the reader directly. Basically think of whenever Ferris Bueller would stop and talk to the camera, he was breaking the fourth wall.) So Deadpool will often make reference to real life things that his character shouldn’t realize and this is used for gags and also to satirize the superhero genre. Does he use these powers to help little old ladies cross the street? Nope, he’s primarily a mercenary who will use his physics-defying kung-fu, swords, knives, and guns (lots of guns) to lay out justice, Deadpool-style with a smile and a profanity-laced wisecrack. Due to his chaotic and irrelevant nature, the character has also been adopted as the poster hero for internet nerds and dudebros’ everywhere as they cosplay as him at conventions and slap him on meme after meme until the nickname of Memepool was created. It’s this same outspoken fanbase, which includes many younger fans who probably only know of him from his toned down animated appearances and are not nearly old enough to handle the real version, that have been holding their breath in anticipation of Deadpool’s first movie.
Which brings us to his first proper outing in theaters. When Wade Wilson is diagnosed with cancer in pretty much all of his body, rather than force the love of his life to watch him suffer and deteriorate until he eventually dies he chooses to sign up for a risky procedure that will help heal him and grant him superpowers. Unfortunately the procedure is operated by your run-of-the-mill evil villains who torture their volunteers in hopes that it will help their bodies activate their latent mutant genes and create an army of super-slaves. (Again this is very much based in the X-Men movies’ universe.) While their methods succeed in triggering Wade’s healing powers, they have the side affect of turning his whole body into what resembles a giant cancer-ridden slice of week old pizza. Using the “Batman Begins” method of jumping back and forth between seeing our hero in action and then cutting back to another part of his origin, we follow Mr. Pool as he hunts down the man responsible for ruining his life so that he can return to his girlfriend and have his happily ever after. Though only after he dismembers and unloads clip after clip of bullets into his enemies of course.
Bringing the story to life is Tim Miller in his first feature film director’s credit along with a screenplay written by the folks behind the 2009 surprise hit, “Zombieland”. Miller, who previously worked in animation and was the creative supervisor on the film adaptation of “Scott Pilgrim vs the World”, brings the hyper-violent and often zany nature of Deadpool’s antics to life with an energy that pretty much starts turned up to 11 and only escalates from there. Alongside Ryan Reynold’s perfectly portrayed anti-hero is his love, Vanessa, played by Morena Baccarin. (I kept thinking she looked familiar and with good reason, she played the character of Inara in Joss Whedon’s “Firefly”!) The flashbacks to the duo’s budding romance are some of the raunchiest and oddly heartfelt moments in the film as they both out-crazy each other in the bedroom. Watching their feisty relationship unfold makes it all the more disappointing than it normally would be that Baccarin’s character essentially gets side-lined at the end of the movie to playing the damsel in distress. Deadpool’s nemesis, played by Ed Skrein, brings just about nothing to the film outside of providing a bad guy to chase. Joining the chase are Deadpool’s back-up crew of friends (T.J. Miller and Leslie Uggams) and X-Men tag alongs, Colossus (completely CGI’d and voiced by Stefan Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (played by Brianna Hildebrand who should seriously consider legally changing her name to that because, well, look at that awesome name).
Earlier I said the movie was surprisingly good. What I mean by this is that after being in development hell for a decade only to be butchered in his (technically) first movie appearance, I was hesitant to hold out hope that this movie could both bring audience’s the real unfiltered Deadpool while still holding back the reins enough that the over the top shtick doesn’t cross over into annoying. And like I said before, I was pleasantly surprised that it managed to pull off that balancing act. The jokes were rapid and continuous, the love story was heartfelt enough to ground the story when it was needed, and the action was like watching Quentin Tarantino direct a Looney Tunes cartoon. Only in the latter stretch of the middle act did I start to feel a little fatigued and I think that was really due to the fact that the villains just didn’t provide a good enough motivation for me to be really invested in the story. Sure enough, I was having fun but it started to feel like the writers were taking their sweet time getting to the finale and in my head I found myself shouting “OH GET ON WITH IT!” Luckily it did just that and cruised right on through its final fight. The film definitely earns it’s R-rating with enough nudity, sex, blood and guts, and masturbation jokes to fill a convention hall at comic-con with and should be avoided at all costs by parents who might think they’re bringing their kids to just another superhero movie. But for all the other 17+ fans or other moviegoers who don’t mind their humor with an extra helping of raunch, Deadpool is the hero for you.
[editor’s note: DUUUUUDE this movie is so good. Oscars? Probably not; but entertaining: hell yes]