D: Tim Miller. DP: Ken Seng. W: Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick. Starring: Ryan Reynolds/Morena Baccarin/T.J. Miller/Ed Skrein/Brianna Hildebrand/Stefan Kapicic/Gina Carano/Leslie Uggams/Karan Soni.
Deadpool has already become the sixth biggest R-rated box officer grocer of all time in just two weekends of release. Without going into statistics it’s safe to say that’s impressive for a February release and a film that would seemingly be targeted for a specific geek audience of a certain age. The comedy and violence definitely deserve the rating, but also allows Deadpool all the freedom it needs to hit the mark.
For first time director Tim Miller the plate and palate of this film was a big one. Previously on creative teams and the second unit director on Thor: The Dark World, Miller and his star, Ryan Reynolds, clearly understand the Marvel universe and the deft hand it takes to parody it. Parody is almost the wrong word because yes it finds humor in its mimicry, but it also unabashedly enjoys. Almost pastiche if you will. Reynolds had been attempting to make a Deadpool film for over a decade, with his character teased in 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine. 20th Century Fox was taciturn about the project until a teaser bit of footage of Reynolds hit the web and caused a frenzy.
The Deadpool character is not only officially anti-X-Men, whom appear in this movie, but also anti-hero in a uniquely modern narcissistic messed up way. 2010’s Kick-Ass clearly came from this world as well. In its graphics and marketing Deadpool blatantly riffs on the Marvel universe, which cloaks itself in pseudo seriousness. Yet underneath that it unearths plot points and rattles typical narrative structures to call its audience attention to what they enjoy and why. The film follows Reynolds’ Wade who is a hot hired meat head as he meets a girl named Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), has a lot of sex, falls in love, and then tragedy strikes. The tragedy leads him to becoming Deadpool and seeking revenge.
Deadpool is full level meta with Reynolds talking to the audience through direct address. He even wipes something off the camera lens at one point. He commentates on everything with Reynolds bringing delightful joy to a cynical character whose dark past is used as hot competition with Vanessa. Baccarin (HBO’s Homeland and Fox’s Gotham) is a good match for Reynolds and it is refreshing to see an age-appropriate couple on screen. A lots has been made of the violence and sex. However, the violence is nothing worse than in other films and to me the sex references merely match that level of violence. It works here, but that does not mean its a formula for all future films.
As I am not a comic book reader nor come from a pool of Deadpool knowledge (see what I did there) I cannot speak to its adaptation. Yet as a fan of the X-Men universe Deadpool is a fun and exciting counter point to the mutation argument. Reynolds previously played an imaginary superhero in the 2009 indie film, Paper Man, and his delivery as Deadpool is again the highlight of the project. Lastly, I must commend the use of music as a humor device as well as a narrative one. Much like the superb Guardians of the Galaxy its self-reflexive quality is well handled so even if the content is not for everyone you can at least admit the film knows what its doing.