Wade Wilson isn’t your everyday superhero. What he is, in fact, is more of an everyday scarred-up, smart-mouthed, morally wronged, chimichanga-loving, red suit-rocking, fourth wall-breaking, do-gooder-mocking, straight-shooting, sword-cleaving, Ryan Reynolds-witty badass. Meet Deadpool. Deadpool is the newest addition to 20th Century Fox’s X-Men movie universe (we’re not going to count that debacle from 2009’s now-non-canon X-Men Origins: Wolverine). Deadpool is also the greatest thing to ever happen to 20th Century Fox’s X-Men movie universe!
The very idea of a Deadpool movie would surely be a suicide mission to many studios. Deadpool is a character so ridiculously cool that even the fourth wall can’t hold him. He’s a random, goofy and ultra-violent sleazebag who gets his kicks by ripping apart the very comic book industry that gave birth to him, yet at the same time, he’s a tragic, unfortunate and wretched soul that was driven to comical insanity by multiple layers of cancer, and a torturous stint in the off-the-books Weapon X program that was meant to artificially develop mutant powers, a program that Wolverine was also famously a part of in the Marvel Universe.
Given this foundation, it’s no wonder that Deadpool spent many years in development hell, being in the works at Fox since X-Men Origins: Wolverine first disappointed audiences back in 2009, after New Line Cinema formerly held the Deadpool rights, and ultimately gave up on the project. It’s a madman’s vision, and without the most proper of care, this movie could have ended up being a horrendous trainwreck that could have permanently destroyed the credibility of Fox’s X-Men movie universe, after the studio worked so hard to get that credibility back in recent years.
Fortunately, that’s not what happened. Deadpool is fantastically true to the spirit of its lead character, and as a result, it’s a glorious slice of hard R-rated superhero movie brilliance! Simultaneously functioning as the year’s first truly kick-ass action movie, the year’s first truly hilarious comedy, and even the year’s most strangely heartfelt love story so far, Deadpool is a superb offering on all counts. Even if you think you’re sick of superhero movies, Deadpool revolutionizes them all over again, and you should absolutely make it a priority to check out on the big screen! Definitely leave the kids at home though!
Marvel fans across the world have come to fall in love with Deadpool, who is easily one of the company’s biggest cult favourite characters at this point. Deadpool has not only appeared in Marvel Comics, but has also shown up in some of Marvel’s cartoons, as well as a few Marvel video games, where he’s even served as something of a company mascot in games like LEGO Marvel Super Heroes. Realizing that love in a dedicated Deadpool movie, particularly one that obviously doesn’t take place in Marvel’s in-house Marvel Cinematic Universe, is very difficult, but Fox’s Deadpool movie absolutely nails the character on every count!
A big part of this is the presence of Ryan Reynolds in the lead role. Reynolds is a perfect fit for the character of Deadpool, being a boyishly charming shit-talker who goes as far as to stop the movie to deliver direct lines to the audience at times, and yet, never stops being an amazing personality. Reynolds’ Deadpool is manic, childish and unpredictable, and that’s exactly what makes Deadpool so appealing when he’s slicing and shooting up bad guys. In a twisted way, Deadpool makes mass villain murder fun, and despite being an anti-hero that makes a point to denounce superheroes and everything they represent, he’s incredibly lovable, and immediately presents enough staying power to headline not just this movie, but the inevitable Fox franchise that is bound to follow it.
A big part of Deadpool’s personality is also the tragedy behind his character, and this is another thing that Deadpool realizes incredibly well. Before he becomes the Deadpool that we’ll come to know, or perhaps already recognize from other Marvel media, Wade Wilson is a, “Bad guy who makes a living beating down worse guys.” He’s the guy you hire when you want to scare, or presumably annoy, someone into leaving you alone, or settling a debt. Wade makes no qualms about living in a seedy world, and being an amoral guy. Despite that however, he’s still amazingly human, even when playing this ludicrous, unhinged mutant anti-hero, and that comes to the fore when he falls in love with another downtrodden soul, Vanessa, played by Morena Baccarin.
Wade puts it best when he says that he and Vanessa are like two strangely-shaped jigsaw pieces that just fit together. Vanessa is a prostitute that Wade begins to date, and the two become very close, and fall in love, even preparing to get married, right as Wade is diagnosed with late-stage terminal cancer in several organs. Like Wade, Vanessa is hard-edged, violent and sometimes unpredictable, but she’s still cool, and her affection for Wade is very real, and very easy to identify with. When Wade gives up on life, Vanessa urges him on, and she’s ultimately the reason why Wade subjects himself to the illegal experimentation that ultimately disfigures and artificially mutates him into Deadpool.
Overseeing these experiments are two villain characters, Ajax, played by Ed Skrein, and Angel Dust, played by Gina Carano. Ajax is one of the key enemies of Deadpool from Marvel Comics, being another Weapon X veteran and mutant with superhuman strength, and an inability to feel pain, which more or less remains true in this movie. Angel Dust meanwhile is also a mutant, who has the power to increase her adrenaline to the point of giving her enormous superhuman strength, and is normally a member of the underground sewer-dwelling mutant society called the Morlocks in Marvel Comics lore, though she has no mentioned affiliation with the Morlocks in Deadpool. The movie does somewhat tease the existence of the Morlocks in one very brief scene, by showing the back of a character that Marvel Comics fans would easily recognize as one of the most high-profile Morlock personalities, but Angel Dust is basically just portrayed as the henchwoman of Ajax in this movie.
If one were to nitpick, one could take issue with Ajax and Angel Dust once again being largely straightforward Marvel movie villains. Their lack of development never really drags down the movie though, since this is Deadpool’s story, it unfolds entirely from Deadpool’s perspective, and given Deadpool’s questionable regard for the lives of his enemies in the first place, it makes sense that the movie wouldn’t care about the villains’ backstories any more than Deadpool himself does. You will be disappointed if you’re looking for a complex villain personality to match the complex personality of Deadpool, but frankly, this is not something that audiences will dwell on, since Deadpool does such a great job of holding the audience’s attention on his own.
Since the movie takes place in Fox’s X-Men movie universe, this naturally begs the question of how many X-Men personalities are featured in Deadpool, and honestly, there isn’t many. In fact, if you’ve seen the trailers, you’ll already have seen all of the X-Men that appear in Deadpool, namely Colossus, who even has a different actor portraying him this time, in contrast to Colossus’ appearances in the previous X-Men movies. There’s a trainee character under Colossus’ care called ‘Negasonic Teenage Warhead’, who is an amazing satire of superhero sidekicks, and like Deadpool, she’s as funny as she is badass. Colossus and his understudy mainly exist to provide the contrast between traditional, do-gooder superheroes and the irreverent stylings of Deadpool, though this works well, and even with the actor changed, Colossus is still an appealing personality here. Sadly, there is no Wolverine cameo in the end, marking the first time that Hugh Jackman hasn’t properly appeared in an X-Men series movie (though there is a funny Stan Lee cameo to compensate, despite Lee not creating Deadpool, even though he did co-create the X-Men, plus Deadpool’s creator, Rob Liefeld also has an amusing cameo), though there is one hilarious gag that references Jackman’s absence towards the end of the movie, which is easily one of the movie’s most gut-bustingly funny jokes!
Even among the lesser-developed personalities, which include characters like Deadpool’s sidekick, Weasel, played by T.J. Miller, and grouchy blind roommate, Blind Al, played by Leslie Uggams, who are played purely for jokes, the personalities in Deadpool are all excellent. Despite many of the personalities coming from a grungier and more seedy part of the X-Men movie universe, everyone is likable and appealing, possibly even outclassing some of the characters from even the best prior X-Men movies, in terms of how fun and memorable they are!
As irreverent, ridiculous and violent as Deadpool is, the movie truly is a love story, making it oddly appropriate for a Valentine’s Day release. A lot of the story stems from Wade wanting to live up to the expectations of his girl, Vanessa, which even fuels a lot of the revenge plot. Surprisingly, it’s not the suffering that makes Wade vow lethal revenge against Ajax upon escaping Weapon X, but the fact that he ended up becoming scarred and ugly, which he thinks will make Vanessa reject him when he meets her again. It’s perhaps childish logic, but it fits the deranged stylings of Deadpool, who is a famously childish anti-hero.
At the same time as being both a tragic love story and a cheeky revenge thriller, Deadpool is also, naturally, an open satire and mockery of modern superhero movies. Deadpool admits to his own violence and lack of morals with great relish in several fourth wall-breaking asides, which is also nicely demonstrated by Colossus trying to ‘redeem’ Deadpool, and make him a member of the X-Men. In this respect, Deadpool almost feels like a spiritual successor to Kick-Ass, only with a main character who doesn’t care about doing pre-conceived good. Deadpool has the same irresponsible, superhero-jabbing wit as Kick-Ass though, and this darkly hilarious desire to embrace the ridiculous extremes of both superhero celebration and contempt, leads to Deadpool feeling like one of the freshest and most exciting superhero movies to come along in years!
This is why even people who are sick of superhero movies will find plenty to love about the storyline of Deadpool, which proudly separates itself from other superhero fare with aplomb. Right from the opening credits, the movie gets right into its devil-may-care spirit, showing one of the funniest and most memorable opening credits sequences in any movie in recent history, and one that definitely feels very distinctly true to Deadpool’s character! Even afterward, Deadpool jumps right into the ridiculous action, and immediately gives audiences what they no doubt came for, with a very exciting and hilarious action-packed intro, which basically serves as a lengthier and more polished version of the leaked test footage that made the rounds online several years ago, and originally convinced Fox to fast-track development of the Deadpool movie, and get it out of development hell.
Another reason why the story of Deadpool works so well is the fact that the movie doesn’t overdo that self-indulgent, ridiculous and crazy action. As that opening sequence plays out, Deadpool gradually recounts more and more of his backstory, which is where we see his time as Wade Wilson, how he meets Vanessa, and how he ultimately gets involved with Weapon X and Ajax. It’s a surprisingly inspired way to balance plot development and fun factor, with the backstory coming in to keep the movie grounded whenever it threatens to fully fly off the rails, and the fun action returning whenever the dark, twisted backstory of Wade Wilson threatens to make the movie too depressing.
It’s very challenging to adapt a character like Deadpool to the big screen, and even more challenging to make a good story about the character of Deadpool that perfectly balances the comedy and the tragedy. Surprisingly though, this is definitely the best origin movie for Deadpool that anyone could have asked for! It’s a story that’s extremely true to the highs and lows of the character, and doesn’t even neuter itself in the process, boldly going for the R-rating that allows it to be truly unhinged, and carve out an effectively violent, grungy new corner of Fox’s X-Men movie universe to hold to itself.
Adding to the outrageous risk factor of Deadpool is its hiring of first-time feature film director, Tim Miller, who only has experience helming and writing short films before now, and whose sole action credits largely involve animation for video games like Mass Effect 2 and Star Wars: The Old Republic, as well as animating for one beloved comic book movie, 2010’s Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Fortunately, despite Miller’s lack of experience helming proper feature films, he absolutely crushes directing work on Deadpool, which he makes into a gloriously chaotic and gleefully violent opus that should immediately put him on the directing map!
Despite Deadpool’s highly diminished budget in contrast to Fox’s prior X-Men movies, and their Wolverine spin-offs, the movie still manages to be a hard-hitting and genuinely fantastically-realized action movie! There’s a lot of great stunt work in the movie, and CGI is kept to a minimum, leading to a lot of action scenes that feel as violent as they should. Even during the more ambitious action scenes, like the highway chase that kicks off the story, the movie never overuses CGI and parlour tricks, ultimately being something that’s surprisingly intense, but in a very entertaining way.
Of course, Miller’s directing expertise isn’t limited to realizing the action scenes. The movie’s character-driven scenes are also consistently on-point, whether it’s the equal parts messy and tragic backstory with Vanessa, the goofy interactions with characters like Weasel and Blind Al, or, of course, Deadpool’s repeated tendency to break the fourth wall and interact directly with the audience. Everything feels very finely crafted to maximize the personality, without downplaying the tragedy and ugliness of the world in which Deadpool inhabits. The movie still recognizably takes place in Fox’s X-Men movie universe, but it’s a more raw and uncompromising part of it, to the point where the movie can effectively play with a character like Colossus feeling blatantly out of place, which supplies a bunch of laughs by itself.
Miller’s ability to just nail everything, from the comedy to the drama to the action to the sheer lunacy, is nothing short of genuinely shocking at times. Nonetheless, there’s never any point in Deadpool where the movie feels like it’s getting sidetracked or off-message, and that’s especially amazing when it stars a character that prides himself on getting sidetracked and going off-message! Everything feels tightly-constructed, and perfectly in service to the main character, and that’s even more impressive when this excellent final product is so brilliantly crafted by a first-time director!
The music in Deadpool is just as brilliantly deranged as its lead character. Junkie XL is behind the movie’s soundtrack, which seems to borrow a cue from Marvel’s own Guardians of the Galaxy movie from 2014, in that it features a sountrack that you wouldn’t think would go with a movie like this. Much of Deadpool’s music suite includes licensed oldies tunes, namely from bands like WHAM! and Salt-n-Pepa, and while it does feature a few compositions that highlight the action, the movie is just as likely to go into a cutesy tune whenever Wade gets some sort of childish impulse, wonderfully mimicking the immature disposition of the movie’s lead character. Deadpool features arguably the most memorable superhero movie soundtrack since Guardians of the Galaxy, and audiences are bound to get a great kick out of it!
The rest of the audio meanwhile is pretty action-packed and explosive, particularly if you happen to be watching the movie’s IMAX cut. The action is surprisingly intense, though like I said, never to the point where the movie’s hardcore violence descends into true squeamishness or discomfort. It’s a perfectly-realized audio suite for a ridiculous action movie, which sounds all the more explosive and badass when you experience it on the big screen!
As I said, Deadpool has a far smaller budget than Fox’s prior X-Men movies, though it makes the most of what it has, by featuring a movie that doesn’t lean on CGI to create its action or sense of spectacle. The intense, bloody stunt work is realized incredibly well, giving Deadpool a superb sense of gory satisfaction, even if Deadpool’s many kills often look as ridiculous as they do brutal. Still, there’s a sense of hard-hitting, grounded splendour to the action, which only has a handful of larger-scale destruction, though nonetheless delivers a lot of ass-kicking spectacle, in terms of how delightfully violently the movie is realized.
Shortly before the movie’s release, Deadpool was also confirmed to have an IMAX release, and my screening happened to be in the IMAX format. It’s not essential by any means, though the IMAX cut is passable, even if the existence of this movie’s IMAX cut does feel a bit like a last-second decision by Fox. Still, the IMAX speakers are very well-utilized to make the action feel even more powerful and fun, even if the movie’s decreased sense of grungy scale doesn’t really benefit the increased real estate of the IMAX screen in any real way. Still, if you want the most out of the movie’s action, then the IMAX cut is worth your money, even though you’d still be perfectly fine if you’d rather just stick to a traditional screening, or don’t have the option of seeing the movie in IMAX to begin with.
Deadpool definitely unfolds on a smaller scale than the X-Men movies, but it’s still lots of fun to watch, and is very visually pleasing, even with a diminished sense of spectacle. Whatever spectacle is present however makes brilliant use of the lowered budget, producing a movie with just enough mutant punch to make it a credible addition to Fox’s X-Men movie universe, though one that isn’t really bothered by having less funding to throw at expensive action sequences, especially when its R-rating gives it free reign to make a movie that compensates by being far more raw and bloody than Fox’s mainline X-Men movies would ever dare to go!
Against all odds, defying all expectations, Deadpool is a masterpiece of irreverent, pitch black superhero filmmaking. If you lost faith in Fox’s Marvel projects after the debacle of this past August’s horrendously botched Fantastic Four reboot, then worry not, because Deadpool is a fantastic apology for that disaster! Even without Marvel’s direct involvement in the project, Deadpool turned out brilliantly, being the perfect showcase of its very challenging, but infinitely appealing lead character on the big screen!
Deadpool is an easy contender for possibly this February’s best movie overall, and could even stand as a highlight movie for 2016, though I do admit that the year is very young, and we no doubt have similarly excellent movies to look forward to over its many remaining months. Nonetheless, Deadpool is a strangely recommendable Valentine’s Day movie release for adult audiences who aren’t easily offended. The movie succeeds as a kick-ass action flick, a hysterical comedy, a seedy drama, and even a genuine revolution for the superhero movie genre, a genre that’s already pretty damn good at constantly re-inventing itself across movies and television.
Even if you wouldn’t normally be inclined to enjoy a superhero movie, Deadpool demands to be experienced, if for no other reason than its bold, insane creativity and fun factor. Obviously though, if you do love superhero movies, then Deadpool is another champion for the genre, and one that you will absolutely love! Even the most discerning fans of the character can agree that this is absolutely the Deadpool movie that we’ve been waiting for, and we couldn’t possibly have asked for a better movie than what we got here!
In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I must say that it’s impossible not to fall in love with Deadpool in his long overdue feature film. He may be an ugly son-of-a-bitch, but you won’t soon forget that winning, twisted personality!