Written by David Holland
There were rumors of Deadpool making his way into the X-Men movie franchise for a while, but nothing ever panned out. After all, the character just doesn’t seem like the right fit for an ensemble. Then they tried him in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, even letting Ryan Reynolds (whom the character claims to resemble in the comics) play him with… less than stellar results. Any movie that was going to do Deadpool justice would have to be centered on Wade Wilson himself, the so-called Merc with a Mouth. And surely no one would be crazy enough to……
Part of what has made the MCU so successful is consistency. They have a formula and they stick to it. There is going to be some witty banter, a dash of slapstick humor, charming leads, climactic battle sequences with very little human blood, and clear distinctions between good guys and bad guys. That formula has served them well, to the point that MCU movies are basically money-printing machines. But “Deadpool” disrupts all of that. The humor is crude and juvenile, the violence is gratuitous, the language is foul, and what few good guys there are exist as foils to the protagonist.
The result: “Deadpool” either pretty much completely works for you or doesn’t at all.
I respect the risk that “Deadpool” took with an R-rating and the not-at-all subtle genre-skewering. I also won’t pretend to be too high-brow for juvenile humor or to be disturbed by the violence. This film knows exactly what it is, and it never pretends to be anything else, which is the only way it could succeed. The typical blockbuster movie model is to soften all of the edges until you can appeal to the broadest possible audience with that sweet-spot PG-13 rating. “Deadpool” knows its audience, caters specifically to them, and if other people come along, great. The movie stays true to the character – crude, vulgar, sarcastic, fourth-wall breaking, and self-referential.
On one storytelling note, I do like the origin story being told in the series of flashbacks. We start with Deadpool full on in the red suit and cut back and forth between that present and Wade Wilson’s past. For a movie that probably could have gotten away with a linear story, this was a nice touch.
Pretty much all superhero movies are wish-fulfillment on some level. The idea that there could be people with extraordinary powers who use them to help mankind and right wrongs, usually while hiding behind a secret identity, is baked into our culture at this point. But Deadpool, both as a character and as a movie, takes that wish fulfillment to a whole new level. What if there aren’t just people with incredible powers, what if there are people with incredible powers who are also Reddit-boards come to life?
There’s a strain of nerd-fan who wants the superpowers because they want the rules to not apply to them and that sort of person can find the wrong comfort in “Deadpool”. In this film the protagonist is not bound by any sort of moral code and only vaguely references “not letting this [mutant experimentation] happen to anyone else”. This comes after emphasizing a desire to inflict deadly violence on the people who wronged him and his girlfriend, whose personality probably doesn’t seem realistic to anyone who has met an actual real woman. My problem is not so much with the movie, which I think accomplished exactly what it set out to accomplish whether or not you like it. My problem is that if you find yourself really REALLY connecting with the character of Deadpool, maybe take a step back and examine yourself. We already have too many guys who will slap a Punisher symbol on their pickup-truck next to their Gadsden flag. We don’t need Deadpool guys too.
“Deadpool” knows what it wants to do, does it well, and doesn’t care if you don’t like it.