2016 is looking to be a crowded year for superhero movies with the inclusion of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Captain America: Civil War and X-Men: Apocalypse among others. I’m positive they’ll all be at the very least decent action romps, but only about as much they’ve ever been in their respective franchises. With all these films sticking close to their formula, Ryan Reynolds and Deadpool comes as a welcome bit of foul divergence that mocks and vomits all over the idea of playing it safe.
The actual story isn’t all that original – Deadpool was a man experimented on by a secret organization, they turn him into a mutant and he vows revenge on the man who turned him into a monster. We’ve seen this plot before with the Wolverine and X-Men movies. Thankfully, the comedic dressing more than makes up for the unoriginal plot. And, at the very least, I’m glad the story wasn’t blown up into our hero having to stop some city-destroying blue laser. It’s a simple revenge story with no need for such additions – very unlike Fox’s last Marvel Comics movie, Fantastic Four, where it appears as if the blue laser was added in at the last minute (why must it always be blue?).
As Deadpool shoves two swords through a gun-toting goon, he proudly boasts that this is a different superhero movie. While it’s not wildly different to see an R-rated superhero picture (anybody remember Punisher: War Zone or Watchmen?), it is divergent to see Fox and Marvel take a risk in an era that has settled on a PG-13 format for superheroes. Deadpool never wastes a moment to gleefully sever a limb, crush a body or decapitate a head. The character of Deadpool has the same regenerative powers as Wolverine, but liberally uses it to absurd degrees. When handcuffed, Deadpool doesn’t hesitate to cut off his own hand to escape. It’s bloody and gross, especially in how he slowly regrows his hand, but it’s also rather refreshing to see him use this power for more than just healing papercuts.
At a time when movie audiences are now fully aware of more superhero lore, Deadpool’s trademark of franchise referencing and fourth-wall breaking is quite timely. When talking about Professor Xavier, Deadpool asks if he’s the James McAvoy or Patrick Stewart version (“These timelines are so confusing”). As he addresses the audience about having his own movie, Deadpool will crack jokes about Wolverine and Hugh Jackman’s accent. We never see Xavier or Wolverine in this movie as the audience is now fully aware of these characters. Superheroes movies have become so commonplace in current cinema that Deadpool is able to joke about everything from characters in other franchises to the budgetary constraints of not being able to afford more X-Men.
While Ryan Reynolds does a fantastic job at capturing the childish and vulgar humor of Deadpool, a little of him goes along way. When he’s not making Marvel jokes or slaughtering his enemies, his dialogue is mostly a string of curse words and poop jokes. These bits starts to wear thin as the movie goes on, especially when repeated as if the joke about wearing brown pants to prepare for bowel movements is funnier the second time around. The best moments of comedy are when Deadpool can play off of the two X-Men characters present. With the classic heroism nature of Colossus and silent angst of Negasonic Teenage Warhead, the scenes Deadpool shares with these characters are a riot. Deadpool makes reference to Nega’s hair resembling Ridley from Alien 3, to which Nega scoffs at how old he is for making such a reference.
Years from now, Deadpool’s comedic antics may age poorly and not have the same punch. But at this current time, having watched three trailers for superhero movies before this one, Deadpool hits the right spot for mocking the unstoppable beast of comic book blockbusters.
It’s an admirably vulgar and low-brow addition to a genre in dire need of an R-rated kick in the pants.
~ Mark McPherson