It’s hard to believe that it was almost 20 years ago that the modern comic book movie was born with New Line’s Blade. I know a lot of people give that accolade to X-Men but Blade showed up two years earlier and shook off the stink of the hyper cheesy Batman and Robin to usher in a new era in comic book fims…an era that people have been saying was going to die every year for the last 20. If I can stop for a minute and appreciate the fact that I live in a time where Deadpool, the least family friendly of all the Marvel properties is getting his own film, I mean, it’s amazing! Granted it was a long road to get to this place, what with the X-Men Origins debacle…it doesn’t matter how we got here, what matters is that we’re here, and it’s a great time to be a geek. Deadpool, for the uninitiated, is unlike anything else on the comic page. The “Merc with a Mouth” as he’s called is beyond description, but if one were to try it would be something like this, inappropriate, hyper-violent, more than a little insane, funny, kinky, crazy, etc, etc. What really sets the character apart, other than the R rated antics that he relishes in, unlike other characters who regret their more violent actions, is that Wade (Wade Wilson is his proper name) regularly breaks the fourth wall and involves the reader, or in this case viewer, in his thoughts. A fan favorite since his solo debut in the early 90’s a Deadpool movie was always one of those things that people yearned for but knew would never happen. How would the comic movie industry ever get to a point where they could cut off their child audience and make a hard R Deadpool movie, the only way to do the character right? Then came that “leaked” test footage two summers ago that set the internet ablaze…people wanted the merc with a mouth and let’s be honest, Ryan Reynolds, who I’ve always liked despite his less then fortunate roles, was BORN to play this part. Things were looking good, and now the film is here. I think, maybe, the ramifications of this film aren’t truly understood by the audience. If this film does well it breaks down the walls for R rated comic book films aimed at adult audiences, or at least it allows for more risk when it comes to making these films. Well, this was a overly long intro…onto the review, what do you say?
Wade Wilson is a former special ops soldier who spends his time as a mercenary. As far as we can tell his jobs are less international espionage and more scaring the life out of the punk stalking a young girl..not really what I expected. When Wade meets the equally scarred love of his life Vanessa at the merc hangout and bar which also happens to be a converted home for wayward girls, his life begins to mean something to him…well, mean as much as Wade can allow. In the midst of the most joyous time of his life he’s brought crashing back down when he’s diagnosed with late stage cancer in his lungs, brain, and other things he can live without (his words not mine). Wade doesn’t see a way out, weary of an opportunity presented to him by a mysterious stranger in the bar Wilson doesn’t see any other way out and calls the number given to him. He ends up in what can only be described as a Mexican prison hospital and is subjected to a number of tests designed to activate the latent mutant gene in his system. The research center, which is run by a former subject named Ajax, is revealed to be less of a hospital and more of a slave creation center all too late for Wade. After pissing off Ajax, Wade is left in an oxygen deprivation tank over the weekend which ends up permanently disfiguring him but also activating his mutation, total regeneration (ala Wolverine). Wade escapes swearing vengeance on those who made him this way.
I suppose I could have gone into more detail plot wise, but let’s be honest, this flick is not plot dependent. We want to see that vulgar, smart mouthed, bad-ass, hyper violent merc with a mouth do his thing…and BOY DO WE. Something told me that Ryan Reynolds, who’s had an unfairly bad run when it comes to comic book heroes, had some real love for the character and really understood what he was about. Contrary to what could have happened Deadpool is more than just a foul mouthed killer…it was understanding this that was the key to doing this movie right..Reynolds got it, and they did it 110% right. I don’t believe in redemption. I think someone does what they do and you should judge them on that and nothing else, however if I was the type to believe in such things, it’s safe to say that Reynolds could have made 4 more Green Lantern films and this movie would have STILL brought him back to the side of great comic book actors. From the opening credit sequence, which is like nothing you’ve ever seen, it’s obvious that these guys understand the character and are ready to break new ground in the world of comic book movies. I’m struggling right now on what to include and what to skip…there are so many bullet points where the movie could have taken a left turn to crapsville but didn’t, it stayed right on that road to awesome town and arrived in style.
Let’s start with the most obvious, the suit. Deadpool easily has one of the most recognizable and best looking suits in comics. Now generally when a character is adapted to the screen changes are made…can you really tell me that Hugh Jackman would have looked as cool in blue and yellow spandex? No, some things work on the page but not on the screen. For Deadpool though, it was a direct translation which made sense since it looked real world cool on the page. That being said it was still surprising to see how awesome it looked in full motion. Now they did some effects work on the eyebrow area but for the most part what you see is most likely how it would look if someone hit the streets in a high quality Deadpool outfit, I don’t know why but that really stuck out as really cool aspect to me. Next is the character itself…damn did they do their homework. Now of course they didn’t get into some of the intricacies of the character, only one chimichanga reference and though I really thought his long running relationship with death was going to be segued, they never did get there, but they captured the essence without question and that’s what matters. The movie serves as a revenge story, and I’m sure we’ll see more of the day to day deadpooling in the already greenlit deadpool 2, but that doesn’t mean they held anything back. Without exaggeration I wouldn’t be surprised if this ended up being one of the funniest movies of 2016. With the exception of any time spent in the research facility there isn’t a five minute stretch without a quality joke…hell even in the research facility when things are at their worst they manage to work in some laughs.
So where does Deadpool fit in with the Marvel universe at large? I’ll be honest, I thought this was going to be its own thing and not have anything to do with the more family friendly faire that we are used to…I was wrong. X-men is heavily referenced throughout and everyone’s favorite uncle Stan Lee even makes his obligatory cameo…I can’t lie, this REALLY surprised me. That being said I can fully respect it. They are treating the films the same way they treat their books and that, to me, is genius. On loan from the X-Men are Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (that’s right). I really thought their inclusion would be the low point of the film but damned if I didn’t love every second they were in. The filmmakers handled the lack of other X-men, not to mention the empty Xavier school perfectly turning a negative to a positive with a bit of humor. Keep an eye out for the highway fight between Deadpool and Colossus, it’s easily one of the best of the film and really captures the tone of the entire film, great action with better laughs! While I’m on the subject I really didn’t have thoughts either way toward the inclusion of Negasonic Teenage Warhead (really…couldn’t shorten that at all?) but at the end of the day they give her some bad ass powers and having her around isn’t just another excuse to showcase Wade’s sense of humor but also his humanity.
Morena Baccarin, who is quickly cementing a place on my top 5, plays Vanessa, the hooker with the heart of gold and Wade’s love interest. The woman is beautiful, that in itself is enough to get her on my list but what really catapults her to the top is her personality…she’s one of the guys, no doubt, and is given plenty of chances to prove that she doesn’t need protecting in this flick resulting in one of my favorite lines “Watch yourself Fat Gandalf”. She definitely owns the role and leaves now question that she’s able to hold her own against Wade. Credit where credit is due, the bravery she must show to put herself literally on complete display during one of the films best segments, lovingly titled ‘Sex through the Holidays’…though she does get her payback during women’s rights day. If I can take a second to be serious, though she does technically play the standard damsal in distress Vanessa is not like a character you've seen before and though she's more then physically outmatched by her superhuman captor you get the real feeling that she really doesn't care. Feisty to the end and fully capable of handling herself it's nice to see women portrayed this way. Though, technically she's still little more then a love interest and a hooker at that...yeah, we definitely have a long way to go.
I’m sure I could fill another 6 or 7 paragraphs on what I loved about this movie but let’s face it…no one cares, so I’ll get to the point. Deadpool breaks new ground on what it is to be a comic book movie. There is no mold, no template, no limit. This movie proves that, like comic book themselves, they are simply another medium in which to tell stories and are not relegated only to family friendly stories featuring a good looking white guy saving the day. They don’t need to be family friendly and they don’t need to feature a strict moral code. For fans of the character, as I was prior to seeing the movie, you beloved merc is in good hands and is presented in a way that will, without doubt, bring droves more to the Deadpool fandom group. I suspect that, though he’s already a popular mainstay, we’ll be seeing much more of the red suited one at SDCC next year. Before I close I just want to include one more, perhaps the most important thing…at now point is the movie taking itself too seriously, and THAT, is one of the most important aspects which shows just how well the filmmakers get Deadpool. One of the most purely entertaining times I’ve had with a comic book film in the theater period. Obviously, I whole heartedly recommend getting your butt into a seat and giving this film your $12.