Deadpool is one of Marvel’s most popular and most annoying characters. The fact that Ryan Reynolds has spent most of his career trying to absolve himself of his Green Lantern sins by bringing this character to the screen helps next to nothing.
It’s taken Marvel almost ten years to start making what any comic book fan exposed to world-ending events and giant-sized, grotesque super-villains for the entirety of their lives would consider to be superhero movies. Marvel was sensitive about the amount of spandex and super-deformity for good reason – people just weren’t ready for it. But now, it being 2016 and all, the slow burn Marvel lit with Iron Man has finally detonated as comic books, from the oddest to the grimmest, are now casual fodder for everyday non-nerds. Marvel knows this – look at the galaxy-spanning lineup they’ve got ready for Phase Three – but their cinematic universe still plays in the sandbox of genre-realism – yes, we live in a world where a man wears a robot suit and leads a team of magicians and insect dudes, but the world they play in still hews close to the one we know. Fox Studios though, Marvel’s red-headed step-brother, perhaps to delineate themselves from the comic book world they opened the doors for with the original X-Men, have, with some success, decided to throw caution to the wind and slap us fully in the face with Deadpool. Sure, to make Deadpool – the story of a wack-job-turned-cancer-patient-turned-super-assassin who dresses up in red spandex, cracks naughty jokes and kills people – you have to step over the line of reality as Deadpool’s entire comics oeuvre orbits around a character who embodies all of the adolescent fantasies 90s comic books brought to the screen – big breasted women and enormously phallic weapons to mention just a couple. And, to Fox’s credit, Deadpool succeeds in being a COMIC BOOK film. There’s no skirting the subject, or trying to downplay the existence of mutants or enormous power-sets, oh no, Deadpool simply jumps to the screen knowing full well that the world it’s entering is one that’s, finally, primed for non-stop, adult-oriented, superhero action. It doesn’t try and deviate from its comic book source, Ryan Reynold’s Deadpool is the equivalent of a 13 year old boy in terms of crude, sexual humor and a penchant for over-the-top violence, and to Reynold’s credit, he uses his own persona to somehow make the spandex clad assassin a living, breathing, feeling presence on the screen, wise-cracking and killing his way through a film that firmly plants a flag as the first in a new era of truly comic, comic book films. Though it is nice to see a studio going full comic book nerd, Fox only partially sticks the landing as the film will certainly play best to 13-year old boys and the oafish man-children they grow into. Reynold’s non-stop comedic patter is true to the character, and often times funny to boot, but it also drags the film down deep into the nerd world where nut-shots and dick-jokes are the spectrum by which we judge if a film is good, bad, or ugly. Deadpool toes the line adequately, at times the best you can say for a film introducing a character to a wider audience, but it’s also tiring in both its pace and its dedication to force any fan of four-color funny books to relive an era most have locked away in their long-boxes next to their Dad’s 80s Playboys. But hell, if Fox wants to differentiate themselves by hewing closer to what true nerds really want to see (and if trailers for the new X-Men: Apocalypse are any sign, they do), I say keep working, keep refining, let’s see some truly comic book action on the big screen. Deadpool is a perfectly decent start.
One Last Thought:
Sure, Deadpool isn’t mine, or anyone who’s pituitary gland has been functioning properly, favorite comic book character, but kudos to Fox for stopping their business bitching long enough to dedicate themselves to a vision and, with some success, bringing it to the screen.