You need to understand this: I love Deadpool. Really. I didn’t learn about Deadpool after the film was announced and jump on the bandwagon. I didn’t discover him from thousands of cutesy Internet memes and then declare myself a knowledgeable fan without ever reading a single issue of any of his comic book series. No, I’m a legit, Deadpool-obsessed geek freak. I have every comic book ever produced with the word “Deadpool” in the title (and every variant of every one of those books) and, in addition, I’ve read them all. Recently. (And I go to the gym, regularly, too. Surprise, surprise.)
So, I know my stuff. I know my Deadpool. I understand what makes him work and what makes him popular. I understand what makes him unique. I’m not satisfied just reading this stuff. I study it. I talk to the people who do it for a living. I recently had a long, face-to-face discussion about Deadpool with Fabian Nicieza, his co-creator, this past May. We talked at length about the origins of the character and his evolution in the decades since. It was fascinating to hear things from his perspective and get a better understanding of his intentions at the time that Deadpool was born.
Coming into the movie, I had liked a lot of what I’d seen in the trailers, but some of it gave me a little cause for concern, too. While the marketing for this movie was genius (among the best ever), it wasn’t exactly the Deadpool that I’d come to love. Close, but not exactly. And, don’t get me wrong; it didn’t necessarily have to be. Things change from one medium to another. They have to. I know that. I embrace that. But that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t hoping to see that guy that I spend so, so, so much of my money on.
So, was he that guy? Almost entirely. In tone, absolutely. In character – again – absolutely. In content . . . mostly. I’m going to write an entire post on that, next week. For now, I’ll say that I never felt like I was being robbed of the Deadpool I wanted to see.
But, enough about that. Most people are going into this movie completely ignorant of the character. What about them? Well, as long as you go in knowing that this is an R-rated film and you’re prepared to handle grown-up things like a grown-up, you should have a blast. The film is hilarious, for one. And it seriously challenges “Guardians of the Galaxy” for my favorite opening credits sequence, too. It brilliantly sets the tone and distinguishes the film right from the start as being something new and different in the comic book movie genre.
And for the most part, it stays that way. The origin slows the film down, a bit, stealing much of its fun as well as its momentum. But the origin had to be told. Deadpool isn’t Spider-Man. Most people don’t know his backstory. Director Tim Miller and screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick appear to feel the same way – that it had to be told, so they were telling it. Not that it was told haphazardly or carelessly. But while the origin is successful at giving Deadpool a sympathetic side, it’s also the area in which Deadpool feels most like the typical comic book film. Being aware of this, the filmmakers cleverly toy with the movie’s structure and that goes a long way towards at least diluting the problem.
Let’s talk about casting. It’s perfect. Okay, that was easy.
But, seriously, Ryan Reynolds embodies Deadpool. And he clearly loves the character. You can’t go wrong with that combination. Morena Baccarin gets to do some of her best work, here, as well, in quality if not quantity. While they’re the standouts, everybody else holds their own.
One thing that Deadpool does well that echoes other recent successes – primarily the Marvel Studios films (which, being a Fox film, Deadpool is not) – is embrace its comic book roots. It doesn’t try to ground the film in the real world. The characters are realistic when it comes to their choices and dialogue (which is a must), but this is a flashy, fun movie that isn’t worried about getting too weird. Colossus is made of metal, Deadpool spends a large amount of time under his mask, and Negasonic Teenage Warhead gets a sleek X-Men uniform that was cooler than any we’ve seen in the actual X-Men films, themselves. I would have liked a more comic-booky Ajax but that was probably more of a budget issue than a creative decision.
Speaking of which, another characteristic that sets this film apart from other comic book movies is its aforementioned budget. Made for a relatively paltry $58 million, Deadpool actually cost less than Brian Singer’s original X-Men that was released 16 years ago (yep, 16 years ago!!!) in 2000. The production uses every dollar and it shows. It never feels terribly large-scale, but it doesn’t matter. It was appropriately scaled for this character and for this story. Colossus didn’t always feel completely materialized, physically, to me, but that might have just been me looking too hard.
Regardless, according to the tracking, Deadpool will make more than its budget back, this weekend alone. And that’s just in North America. So, there will unquestionably be a sequel that’s bigger and badder with even more potential for raucous, rambunctious mayhem. I have my own personal wish list. I want to see Siryn! And a fully realized Vanessa (should I go to Awesome Con in Washington D.C. to meet Morena Baccarin? Seriously considering that.)! And, being my favorite of all of Deadpool’s supporting cast, I want to see Shiklah! “Dracula’s Gauntlet” is my favorite Deadpool story and would be a blast on the big screen! And, now, all of those things will be possible because this movie is going to be a huge success.
Congrats, Deadpool! You’re about to become the household name you’ve always deserved to be! Don’t forget those of us who knew you when!