The huge success of Marvel’s latest arguably says more about the conveyor belt of A+B=C comic book superhero movies than it does about the quality of the Merc with a Mouth’s first solo outing.
That’s not to say Deadpool is a bad picture – it’s not. Rather, it’s carefully marketed ‘subversiveness’ and ‘different’ have highlighted just how hungry cinemagoers are for a comic book movie that claims to break the mould.
While Tim Miller’s directorial debut has a genuine spark and a leading man who’s clearly relishing the chance to finally mark his mark with a character who until now had been an ill-served side player in the mishap that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), Deadpool isn’t as anarchistic as it believes itself to be and ultimately gets in line with many of the movies it lampoons by falling back on an explosion-heavy final reel.
Deadpool sets out its stall from the get go with an enjoyably on-the-nose opening credits sequence that mocks the clichés of what anyone versed in comic book movies should expect (while still adopting them) before jumping into an opening reel set piece (as per the play book). The difference here is that Wade Wilson (Reynolds) knows we know this and is as much interested in showboating for the cheap seats as he is in seeing how many bad guys he can end the life of with a fistfull of bullets.
Through numerous flashbacks and regular fourth-wall breaking (“That’s like, sixteen walls!”), we learn that Wilson has revenge on his mind against evil Brit Francis Freeman (Ed Skrein), a mutant who subjected our anti-hero to experiments which left him horribly disfigured. Believing he can no longer be with his fiance Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), Wilson costumes up and adopts the alter-ego of Deadpool in order to deliver some Old Testament justice.
On a visceral level Deadpool delivers, with enough acrobatic action and one-liners to satisfy both fanboy and casual cinemagoer alike. The use of B-list X-Men Colossus (Stefan Kapičić) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) provides ample opportunities for Wilson/Reynolds to stick the boot in to the X-Men, from its HQ (“Neverland Mansion”), to Professor Xavier (“some creepy, old, bald, Heaven’s Gate-looking motherf***er”) and Wolverine in particular (a visual gag involving Hugh Jackman towards the end of the movie is particularly amusing).
The delight with which Reynolds spouts Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick’s expletive-laden meta dialogue is palpable and the scenes he shares especially with T.J Miller’s deadpan Weasel and Leslie Uggams’ elderly flatmate Blind Al are the film’s highlight.
However, Wilson’s romance with Vanessa, whilst gamely played by both actors, feels like it’s stapled on from a different movie and the character rather inevitably becomes a damsel in distress who’s there to be rescued from the clutches of the bad guy; a trope we’ve seen once or twice in the movies.
Reynolds, like the film itself, also veers too often into smugness; basking in its latest insult or ribaldry as if waiting for the audience to stop chuckling before moving on.
It will be interesting to see whether the goldmine that Deadpool has unearthed will inspire the studios to take on riskier projects involving characters who operate on the fringes of the comic book universe. If this is the film’s legacy then so much the better.
Deadpool is fun and smart; just not as fun and smart as it thinks it is.
Always had a feeling that this one is not as keen, smart and wickedly funny as many are making it out to be, but still looks like a riot and I am pretty stoked for it. Good review! A fun read 🙂
Appreciate that Vic. It *is* amusing and well worth watching, but don’t expect the world!
I’m pretty much in agreement with your sentiments here – funny, different…just not that funny or different. But a welcome break from the norm nonetheless. I liked Reynolds in it, his delivery was pretty good, and I think it was a blessing in disguise that they had less-well-known X Men in there, as it kept it as ‘his show’.
I generally like Reynolds and he’s fine here (having a lot of fun that much is apparent) but as I say, I think it veers too often into mugging for the camera and the film itself kinda gets caught up too much in the next gross-out moment. It’s fine I guess!
Yeah…in no rush to see it again but I’ve had worse times in the cinema.
I never would’ve thought I’d like this one more than you Mark 😉 “Reynolds, like the film itself, also veers too often into smugness; basking in its latest insult or ribaldry as if waiting for the audience to stop chuckling before moving on.” Yeah I think that’s why I probably won’t be watching this one again anytime soon even though I did like it the first time. I’m generally not a fan of Reynolds as an actor, but I think he has a gift in comedies, well a lot more so than in dramatic stuff anyway.
I actually have quite a lot of time for Reynolds and as I say I liked it. Just not as much as everyone else by the sounds of it!
Great review! I thoroughly enjoyed this, but I can certainly agree with you that it is flawed, and not nearly as funny as it always thinks, though it is incredibly funny in places – it isn’t like that from opening until close. But definitely still had a blast with this and will be adding it to my collection.
Thanks Zoe! It’s a bit of fluff as far as I’m concerned, but enjoyable nonetheless.
Pretty much with you all the way here, though I thought a little less of it. Very well written mate 🙂
Thanks for the feedback Jordan. I chuckled occasionally but that’s about it. It ain’t revolutionary that’s for sure.
Indeed. It is not even close to being as subversive as it thinks it is
“it’s carefully marketed ‘subversiveness’ and ‘different’ have highlighted just how hungry cinemagoers are for a comic book movie that claims to break the mould.”
100% nailed it.
Cheers mate; glad we’re on the same page here!
Deadpool is going to end up incurring a lot of el cynicism-o because of the hype around it. I totally have different feelings for it now. Deadpool, yu were once an obscure comic character. Now you’re going to be on lunch boxes and cheap cell phone commercials! F(((king sell-out! 😉
I think we’ll look back on this and kind of shrug in a few months/years. We’ve all been sucked in by the marketing on Deadpool.
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