Friday, February 19, 2016

Deadpool Review

Marvel's super hero movies have been flooding the movie theaters for some time now. Many of the ones produced by Disney have been fantastic, while the ones produced by Fox have been hit or miss. Fox still owns the film rights to the X-Men franchise, and most of those have been good. The eighth installment in the X-Men series is Deadpool (2016); something fans have been begging studios for for sometime, especially after that horrible depiction of the character in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The Deadpool movie is not so much about the story as it is about this bizarre and well loved character of the Marvel Universe.
Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is a former Special Forces operative who now works as a mercenary. His world comes crashing down when he develops terminal cancer. Even though this fiancé, Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), remains by his side, he fears losing her. A recruiter from a secret program approches Wade and offers him an experimental cure for his cancer. Initially he refuses, but later decides to leave Vanessa and undergo the procedure. At the sketchy laboratory, evil scientist Ajax (Ed Skrein) tortures, disfigures and transforms him into a mutant. The rogue experiment leaves Wade with accelerated healing powers and a twisted sense of humor, and shortly thereafter adopts the alias Deadpool. With occasional help from X-Men mutant allies Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), Deadpool uses his new skills to hunt down the man who nearly destroyed his life.
In the X-Men Origins movie, Deadpool was one of several characters who were horribly misrepresented in all the wrong ways. I was bent out of shape about how Gambit was depicted, but that was nothing compared to how inaccurate their disparaging and repulsive version of Deadpool was. The Deadpool in this movie is a vulgar and loudmouthed goofball and was what we were expecting in X-Men Origins. Here, he is highly talkative, cracks more jokes and wisecracks than Spider-Man, suffers from psychosis which itself makes him unpredictable and random, he's gratuitously violent and crude, and is aware that he is a comic book character, so he breaks fourth wall often to humorous effect. During one such gag in the movie he turns to the camera, looking at the audience and says, "A fourth wall break inside a fourth wall break? That's, like, sixteen walls!" At another point in the movie, Colossus is dragging Deadpool away and says, "You will talk with Professor Xavier." Deadpool responds by asking, "McAvoy or Stewart? These timelines can get so confusing." referencing Patrick Stewart's role and James McAvoy's role as a younger version the same character in prequels, and commenting on how the timeline in the X-Men movies don't actually make a lot of sense.
Ryan Reynolds played Deadpool in both movie depictions, and he's so perfect for the role. I mentioned in my review of Woman in Gold that Ryan Reynolds is frequently typecast as an arrogant, handsome, cocky, and rude young man. Wade Willson is certainly handsome before the secret Project X scientists get a hold of him, but not so much afterwards. Pretty much every other aspect of Reynolds' usual typecasting is present in the character of Deadpool. Deadpool's wacky and sometimes crude quips make the whole movie hysterical, and they are often the sort of sarcastic things Reynolds says in other movies. One of the cleaner lines from Deadpool has the titular character surrounded by henchmen with guns early in the movie. "You may be wondering why the red suit. Well, that's so bad guys don't see me bleed." He points at one of the henchmen to his left. "This guy's got the right idea... He wore the brown pants!" At which point Deadpool proceeds to kill all of them. I almost wonder how much of the movie was scripted and how much of it was Ryan Reynolds ad-libbing or just being himself.
One of the fun things about the Deadpool character is that he's not by any means typical. He frequently reminds us and other characters in the movie that he's not a hero. Deadpool has always been a mercenary who is in it for his own reasons and for whomever tends to have the bigger paycheck offer. Superheroes and villains are often depicted as having cool gadgets, weapons, and fancy hideouts. Deadpool lives in the ghetto, and shares a dilapidated apartment with and elderly, bitter blind woman. Deadpool is so lacking in resources that he has to take a taxi in his costume to get to the big fights. He doesn't have fancy powers outside of his accelerated healing. His healing powers make him effectively immortal and are so advanced that the character has literally recovered from decapitation in the comic books. Since he has no offensive powers, he fights with guns of various sizes and a pair of swords. "Okay guys, I only have twelve bullets, so you're all going to have to share!" It's these combined quirks that make the character so likeable and enjoyable. He doesn't take himself seriously, and that's why fans love him. The character wears a colorful, cheap Adventure Time wrist watch under his crime fighting costume for goodness sake!
It seems a lot of people were all worked up over Deadpool being rated R. Apparently they didn't think comic book movies were supposed to be R rated. But allow me to point out comic book movie titles that preceded Deadpool which were rated R, such as Watchmen, Kingsman: The Secret Service, Kick-Ass, 300, and Dredd to name a few. "But this is a Marvel movie, those aren't supposed to be R-rated." Oh, you mean like Punisher and a whole trilogy of Blade movies? I generally don't prefer R-rated content. But given the character of Deadpool, a PG-13 version of the movie would have been an insulting, watered down version of what the iconic character is. I feel like it was important to have an R rating to get this character done right for a movie. There were a couple of times I averted my eyes during the movie so as to avoid something I prefer not to see. But that's my preference and I would have been frankly disappointed if that sort of content was absent. Even sex scenes and graphic violence was imbued with Deadpools iconic, bizarre humor. The profanity and violence which permeates this movie is not simply thrown in to get a higher rating. It's intelligently incorporated and used in creative and witty ways. It's not vulgarity for the sake of vulgarity; it's well written and fits perfectly with setting and characters that use it. This is not a super hero movie for children; no matter how much your ten-year-old loves Iron Man and The Avengers, Deadpool is not for kids. And that's the way this movie should be.
Deadpool was everything that Deadpool fans had hoped for: fast, hilarious, and gleefully profane. The fourth-wall-busting Deadpool subverts the superhero movie formula with wildly entertaining and absolutely non-family-friendly results. This immature action-comedy is Marvel's biggest breath of fresh air since Guardians of the Galaxy. The movie makes self referential jokes as soon as the opening credits start rolling. The story may be a little on the cliché side but the narrative format makes it more interesting, and Deadpool himself makes it even better. This movie isn't about the story, it's about this character and depicting him the way he was meant to be depicted and the wacky humor he brings to every situation. And Deadpool succeeds in that endeavor with flying colors! I recommend seeing Deadpool if you're a fan of the character or the Marvel universe. However if you prefer classic, heroic, morally centered characters, you may want to skip this one; that's simply not who Deadpool is. Also, leave the kids at home if you plan on seeing this. I liked it enough to get a copy when it's available on home video.

Even though it's been done before, it was a bold move to make a R-rated superhero movie amidst all the other Marvel and DC superhero movies hitting theaters which were designed to be a bit more family friendly. What are some other Marvel and DC superhero movies titles you'd like to see that could reasonable have an R-rating? Comment below and let me know!

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