I’ll just say what you’re all thinking straight away: by golly is it about time Deadpool got a feature film that isn’t X-Men: Origins and is visibly made by people who actually care about getting it right! It’s also about time that we got a Valentine’s Day film that isn’t Fifty Shades of Grey, and between the two, I’d say Deadpool has the better BDSM scenes.
Fans of the Deadpool comics by Marvel have yearned for this day and if you know and love Deadpool, chances are you’ll love this film. Is it perfect in a movie-making aspect? Certainly not, though it is (often) a near-perfect Deadpool movie. And yes, as many feared it wouldn’t be, it is in fact rated R, and I’m hoping its box office records prove to Hollywood that not every action film needs to be watered-down into PG-13 to make money.
Right from the clever and creative opening title sequence, you can tell that these folks know how to do a Deadpool story. The plot is told partially in flashbacks by the titular “superhero who’s not really a hero” himself. He is played by Ryan Reynolds and will often reference that fact in-character, as any accurate Deadpool iteration would.
In present day, he’s trying to get the guy who destroyed his life. In the flashbacks, we learn that he thought this guy was going to fix it. Deadpool was once a bounty hunter/mercenary named Wade Wilson and he was suffering from cancer, ultimately agreeing to partake in a shady experiment to not only cure him, but give him superhuman abilities. He specifically requests that his super suit isn’t green or computer-animated. The man running the operation, Francis, is played by Ed Skrein of Game of Thrones fame and I’ve seen better villains.
The procedure works but Wade becomes heavily deformed, leaving his stripper girlfriend (Morena Baccarin) behind without telling her and eventually becoming Deadpool – red suit and all. On his quest for revenge, he runs into a kind blind woman who loves Ikea furniture and the only two X-Men we get to see him interact with for now: Colossus (Stefan Kapičić) and the beautifully named Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand). Colossus is not played by the same man here as in the X-Men films, nor is his accent the same, but I’m sure this too will be joked about if Deadpool ever joins that franchise. They do reference Charles Xavier, of course prompting Wade to ask who’s playing him this time.
There’s also T.J. Miller as Wade’s best friend and Gina Carano as Francis’ right-hand woman Angel. This is somewhat confusing since, after X-Men 3 and First Class, this is the third X-Men character to be named Angel. I don’t know what her relation is to the other two but she definitely has no wings.
Although ultimately pretty great, I found that Deadpool had a couple of things missing. I thought Wade could have been even more grotesquely deformed underneath his mask and the movie had its share of jokes that either didn’t land or were a little too easy to see coming – especially given the subversive and rule-breaking nature of the source material.
Even worse: knowing the source material is at certain points the reason you’ll predict the joke. For example, I’m not going to spoil the obligatory post-credit sequence, but if you know the first thing about the sort of fourth wall-breaking and self-aware humour that Deadpool media relies on whenever it’s not being hilariously violent, you probably know already how the post-credit scene plays out. (There were also a couple of jokes the implications of which I hope no-one in the audience takes with them home, although I trust that the people at my screening were smarter than that.)
I suppose I’ve just been exposed to the Deadpool character long enough to be able to guess how most of his gags are likely to go. And to be fair, with that in mind I’m pretty impressed with how much genuinely clever and unpredictable comedy the film succeeded in having, reminding us that there’s always an extra mile to go when comedy defies the conventions of storytelling, filmmaking and whatever else can be played with. I just wish they could have gone further yet, so as to avoid the occasional plot convenience, cliché and obvious punchline.
On that note, they could have done something with the camera work too, as the cinematography in this film (sans a few action scenes) is a little too bland and ordinary to complement the unconventionally humorous tone of the movie itself. Guardians of the Galaxy, another comedic Marvel film, did this element a lot better, as well as the interactions between the main characters. Deadpool‘s character banter wasn’t shoddy by any means, I just won’t remember it as fondly as most scenes between Drax, Rocket or Groot.
As proven by the ecstatic audience at the screening I attended with my mate Lisa, Deadpool will be enjoyed by many all the same. The character is lovingly translated and Reynolds plays him well, even though he seems more physically energetic and funny when he wears the red suit, making me think a stuntman was hired for those scenes. The film also has amusing action sequences, well-utilized slow motion effects (a modern-day rarity), sound design that caused ripples in the film screen, hilarious gore (though not as memorably cringe-inducing as Hateful Eight), fun references, and a good choice of music. I’m awarding this one a 3.5/5.
Lastly: it has a Stan Lee cameo that reminds me how sad I’ll be when he dies (if he dies, rather). Rob Liefeld shows up too, don’t worry.