It was always going to be a longshot (no, not that Longshot, which would be an even bigger longshot than — you know what, never mind). A relatively obscure Marvel mutant character known for breaking the fourth wall and for his insanely funny jokes and pop culture references would never translate well to a live action film, especially now during the great cinematic superhero renaissance.
The character of Deadpool was last seen in the ill-received 2009 X-Men Origins: Wolverine film, and while they had the right actor in Ryan Reynolds, they didn’t quite understand the character (even making him the big bad for Logan to fight at the end, for some reason). The chances of seeing a true, honest-to-Thor Deadpool movie were slim to none. He can’t carry his own movie, they said. Nobody would get the jokes, they said. Who the hell is Deadpool, most people who only know the film heroes from the films and not the source materials asked.
But then something peculiar happened and someone at 20th Century Fox wasn’t listening (drowned out by the rage left from last summer’s Fantastic Four, no doubt), and they green-lighted a Deadpool movie anyway. And thankfully, they not only nailed it, but they proved almost everybody wrong, and I predict that by the end of opening weekend, Deadpool will more well known than half of the X-Men currently slated to appear in X-Men: Apocalypse, and most of those characters have had multiple movie appearances by now.
Deadpool brings back Ryan Reynolds in the title role, and all but forgets the Origins film — though there are some jokes made at its expense. This Deadpool is more based on the comic book origins (for which there are many), dreamed up by Rob Liefeld and truly fleshed out by Fabian Nicieza. Reynolds was born to play Wade Wilson/Deadpool. His rapid-fire delivery and amazing physique are perfectly suited for comic book movies, at least films on the Marvel side (yes, 2011’s Green Lantern is also referenced, and not fondly).
This version of Wade is more in-line with the comic. He’s a mercenary who works at St. Agnes, doing odd muscle jobs for cash. When he meets the love of his life in Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), Wade’s life changes. And changes. And changes again when he’s diagnosed with terminal, inoperable cancer. To save his life, he opts to join a shadowy organization who is trying to activate dormant mutant genes to create heroes. This organization, led by Ajax (Ed Skrein) and Angel Dust (Gina Carano) is more shadowy than even Wade knows, and by the end, the handsome “merc with a mouth” is forever changed into the anti-heroic walking tumor, Deadpool. So, as you can see, it’s a love story.
Director Tim Miller takes an unorthodox approach to the character, telling the origin story in a very unique way. From the opening credits, which are some of the funniest I have ever seen, to the very last, post-credits scene (for which there are reportedly two, yet only one was shown to critics), this is 100 percent Deadpool. No holds are barred. No pop culture reference is safe. In fact, the comic book version can’t even go to some of the places that Miller and Reynolds’ Deadpool goes. “F” bombs and dick jokes are aplenty, and while Marvel editors (and their Disney slave masters) have to add the requisite “!@#$%” to symbolize curse words, the movie has no such restrictions and Deadpool earns its R rating with aplomb.
Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick’s script gives the audience more than enough information as to who Deadpool is and why, though late in the second act, the film kind of stalls — this is during the nuts and bolts of Deadpool’s origin. The kinetic pace and humor of the first act-and-a-half almost sets itself up to fail, but luckily, Deadpool picks back up in the third act with a final assault that satisfies, both in action and laughs.
Miller and company seed the character of Deadpool firmly into Fox’s burgeoning X-Men universe by including long-time member (and personal fav) Colossus (voiced by Stefan Kapicic, the character is now CG, replacing Daniel Cudmore who played the character in the X-Men films), a newer mutant in Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) and even Xavier’s school in Westchester, New York.
Also along for the ride are Wade’s friend Weasel (T.J. Miller) and Deadpool’s roommate, Blind Al (Leslie Uggams), who is an old blind, black woman who apparently loves cocaine and IKEA furniture. Both characters just add to the insane melange of the production.
Above all else, Deadpool is hilarious. His quips, written or improvised, are so fast and so out there that there really isn’t anything that’s comparable in the comic book movie genre. Tony Stark may make a chuckle-worthy comment in the Avengers, but Deadpool will flash his testicles while singing a Beyonce song with the severed heads of his enemies singing back up. There really is no comparison.
And if Deadpool can get his own movie — and hopefully a franchise — it gives hope to other B-list super heroes (from both of the “Big Two” publishers). We could see even more great characters get their time to shine on the silver screen, and fans, both old and new, would be thrilled. Just not the character Longshot. His movie would be terrible.
Deadpool is rated R (for very good reason) and hits theaters nationwide on February 12
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