Deadpool is fun and violent--that’s it. I could end the review right here given the entire internet is about to combust with all things Deadpool related. The film has already made close to $800 million dollars and is now the highest grossing R rated film of all time, so chances are you’ve also already seen it, but I digress. The film is a diametric opposite to the grim growly seriousness of Batman v Superman. Deadpool (the character) is an unhinged psychopathic Daffy Duck/Bugs Bunny in tights, gleefully murdering everything in sight, while mocking the very notion of being a “superhero”. Thankfully the film doesn’t pander, annoy, or overstay its welcome instead it’s funny, violent, and acutely self-aware of the genre it so irreverently mocks.
The plot is pretty much the same as any superhero origin movie--guy gains superpowers and goes after evil dudes who have wronged him. The devil is in the details. Where Deadpool differs most is the film’s willingness to make fun at any and everything, as well as the gratuitous cursing and violence. Nothing is too sacred for Deadpool’s tastes. Favorite punching bags include Ryan Reynolds and his previous disastrous attempts at being a superhero, X-Men, and the movies studios who make them. The character of Deadpool makes a seamless transition from the comics complete with crazy killing rampages, fourth wall breaking, and meta commentary on the superhero genre (see links below for histories of the character). The self-deprecating pitch black humor and outrageous violence complement each other nicely to form a rock solid tone.
Bringing Ryan Reynolds back as Deadpool despite the previous incarnation’s failure was a stroke of genius. He does a fantastic job playing the almost non-stop motormouth. Thus it’s a good thing that most of the things he says are funny, and more importantly they function as a defining character trait. The other characters are also fleshed out nicely, particularly the X-Man Colossus who functions as a straight-man foil to Deadpool’s murderous hijinks with great hilarity. While Morena Baccarin does a good job being the compatible girlfriend Vanessa, especially given the insane kookiness of Deadpool, she is relegated to portray a love interest/damsel in distress. T.J. Miller also does a good job at providing some pitch black deadpan humor as Weasel, a bartender/sidekick to Deadpool. Ed Skrein, does a serviceable job as Ajax, the film’s antagonist who’s not very memorable but manages to move the plot along and be entertaining. The film manages to get a lot of mileage out of the character dynamics between Deadpool and Ajax, particularly regarding the latter’s name.
Tim Miller, in his lead directorial debut, does a fantastic job at keeping the tone pitch black. The film’s pacing, action scenes, and vibrant energy also deserve significant mention. The jokes, references, Easter eggs, and self-deprecating humor never feel forced or out of place. That is an astounding feat in and of itself given just how many there are in the film (spoilers following the link). The action sequences are vicious and rewarding, particularly the opening credit sequence which starts as a still frame then shows with visceral grace just how they get to that violent moment in time. The film even manages to poke fun at itself in a ‘we couldn’t afford this’ manner several times. Deadpool forgets his ammo bag on two separate occasions, and even mentions money issues explicitly when only two X-Men are available to help at any given moment.
I feel the need to address the elephant in the room. Deadpool for all its resounding success is a bit over hyped for its originality. James Gunn, the director of Guardians of the Galaxy, had some strong words for a “Hollywood Suit” who was quoted by Deadline Hollywood as saying, "The film has a self-deprecating tone that’s riotous. It’s never been done before. It’s poking fun at Marvel. That label takes itself so seriously, can you imagine them making fun of themselves in a movie? They’d rather stab themselves.” All of which is hilariously false, and Gunn takes them to task for this blatantly false assertion. Charlie Jane Anders correctly points out there have been plenty of R-rated comic book films that have come before Deadpool: Blade, Kingsman, Kick-Ass, Sin City, and Wanted to name a few. Deadpool deserves credit for finally showing Hollywood execs that “big-name” superheroes can have profitable R rated films. Deadpool is fun and original, but it’s not a groundbreaking film that Hollywood would like you to believe, and instead owes a lot to the violent R rated comic films that came before it.
Deadpool has finally given Ryan Reynolds a successful superhero franchise--this is undeniable. I jest, but seriously, Deadpool has changed the comic book movie game in a way that the other ‘R’ rated comic book films that came before it had not. Fox has confirmed that 'Wolverine' will be rated ‘R’ and there are rumblings that X-Force will also be rated R. Deadpool’s massive success and profitability has caused a ripple effect that will likely be felt for years with sequels, copycats, and derivatives attempting to ape its success. Deadpool is not an earth shattering original superhero film, but it is a breath of fresh air in a genre that can be very serious and heavy handed at times (Marvel’s colorful films notwithstanding). Deadpool takes a step back and remembers that guys dressing up in tight costumes and punching other guys in tight costumes is absurd. It’s an anarchic roast of itself and of the entire superhero genre. While not as original as many may claim, it’s definitely worth a watch. Just don’t take the kids.
TLDR: Deadpool is a fun, goofy, and violent romp. Funny, absurd, and self-aware it mocks the superhero genre, itself, and just about everything else in between. 4/5 Stars
Brief History of Deadpool: http://io9.gizmodo.com/the-unlikely-origins-of-deadpool-the-x-men-character-w-1757814457
Long Form History of Deadpool: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deadpool
Everything Cut From The Movie (Spoilers): http://io9.gizmodo.com/everything-that-was-too-expensive-to-include-in-deadpoo-1759651069
Anders, Charlie Jane. "The R-Rated Superhero Movie That Kicked Our Asses Long Before Deadpool." Io9. Gawker Media, 16 Feb. 2016. Web. Feb.-Mar. 2016.
Bricken, Rob. "Deadpool Has Changed the X-Men Movies Forever, But That May Just Be the Beginning." Io9. Gawker Media, 15 Feb. 2016. Web. Feb.-Mar. 2016.
Bricken, Rob. "It Begins: Fox Says Wolverine 3 Will Be Rated 'R'" Io9. Gawker Media, 16 Feb. 2016. Web. Feb.-Mar. 2016.