This is not your father’s superhero film. To start off, it you are a parent who watched the trailers or TV spots for Deadpool and thought, “OK, this is another superhero flick I can take my junior high child to” then you are mistaken. This movie is rated R and earned its rating. From start to finish Deadpool is filled with vulgar language, nudity, over the top violence including decapitations and heads exploding, and wildly inappropriate/offensive jokes that you would likely prefer your child not to see. All that said, any fans of the character reading that statement are chomping at the bit to see this movie. As far as characterization, costume, tone of the film, etc. Deadpool may be the most faithful comic book adaptation. It is unlike any other superhero movie that has come out, which has no doubt contributed to its surprising and overwhelming success at the box office.
The funny thing is, Fox did not want to make this movie. The combination of the criticism the studio received for X-Men Origins: Wolverine (both the quality of that movie and the portrayal of Deadpool), the R rating, and the bankability of Ryan Reynolds (Green Lantern, his last superhero movie, was a commercial and critical bomb) had this one sitting in development hell for years no matter how hard Reynolds was personally campaigning to get it made. Lucky for them not only did they agree to make it, but they made it following Reynolds’ and director Tim Miller’s vision for the movie. A “safe” PG-13 version of the character on the screen would have been a sure fire failure. The appeal of Deadpool/Wade Wilson is how unorthodox he is as an anti-hero, not just killing bad guys like Marvel counterpart The Punisher (can’t wait to see his MCU debut in Daredevil season 2 next month), but doing so in a gruesome and hilarious fashion. It is as if you hired your favorite raunchy comic as a hitman to first roast and then murder your worst enemy. It was staying true to the character and the spectacular marketing that put the humor front and center that made Deadpool such a box office draw ($132 million opening weekend on a $58 million budget).
I’ve told you the movie is successful and that it is innovative and funny, but I haven’t really shared my opinion. I really enjoyed it. The film moved at a quick pace with constant action and one-liners (except for the lab scenes that were intended to be dramatic and some of the film’s stronger moments by showing how the character became how he is, but instead slowed the film to a grinding halt). The movie was endlessly quotable. I can totally picture this movie playing on loop in the dorm room of college guys while they quote all the jokes with their buddies. The myriad of pop culture jokes might not age as well but drew regular laughter from the audience I saw it with opening weekend. I grew up a big comic book fan and this felt like something pulled directly from the page- crazy action, outlandish story, personality, powers and even fourth wall breaking maintained, and very funny and entertaining from start to finish. I wouldn’t say that an R rated film or particularly raunchy/offensive comedy is a tailor-fit movie for me, but I really enjoyed Deadpool and have every intention of revisiting the film. Even my wife, who is not much of a comic book or action movie fan, thoroughly enjoyed it (even though we saw it Valentine’s Day weekend and Ryan Reynolds, who she seems to have a bit of a thing for, was covered in scars and a mask most of the runtime).
It is impressive what Miller was able to accomplish on a relatively modest budget. The action was fun and well done, the special effects were minimal (compared to the likes of the Avengers) but effective and it was probably the funniest comic book adaptation I have seen. Any shortcomings the film might have had (effects budget, character tie-ins from X-Men universe, baggage from X-Men Origins: Wolverine or previous Ryan Reynolds films) were openly mocked within the movie and added to the experience. Lots of praise and credit should be directed towards Reynolds because he was the reason this was made and he absolutely killed it in the role. The sarcastic and charismatic charm hat he brings to all of his characters was spot on for Wade Wilson. It just felt like this was the character he was born to play. The supporting characters were not given as much to do, however. The only standouts were the always impressive Morena Baccarin (and with this movie alongside of her work in Firefly, Gotham and other shows has earned her massive Geek credit, which was played up with her being painted as a fanboy dream girl), T.J. Miller who was funny and played off of Reynolds very well, and personally it was nice to finally see a Russian Colossus.
With the massive surprise success of Deadpool Fox is rushing to make a sequel and likely an X-Force film and trying to figure out a way to insert Deadpool into the PG-13 X-Men films now that they are losing Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine. They are going to have their work cut out for them. Firstly, it is traditionally very difficult to replicate success with comedies and much of Deadpool’s draw is due to its humor. Secondly, while the character might be a different kind of superhero by his own admission, the story wasn’t anything particularly unique. A hero story where the guy is granted abilities when he has no other options only to be screwed over, ultimately leading to him seeking revenge and having to save the woman he loves. The novelty was the story jumping around chronologically and the character himself. Hopefully the character they are bringing in for the sequel (I won’t spoil it for you, just be sure to stick around until after the credits) offers them more possibilities to keep the franchise fresh.
To sum it all up, I have a difficult time whole-heartedly recommending Deadpool because much of the humor in the movie is offensive, but for those who don’t bat an eye at the R rating it is a must see. For my one sentence review- Deadpool is a joke a minute, kinetic action movie that stands apart in an over-saturated superhero genre with the disclaimer that it may be inappropriate for many audiences. Let me know your opinion of Deadpool in the discussion board below.