Do you want to know what my face looked like as I walked out of the theater after seeing Deadpool on Thursday night?
Look, I’m a hard guy to please. I know this more than anybody. It’s an awful trait to have, but it’s part of my DNA, and I think it’s something that I developed over the years once I began writing reviews and such after starting college. I try to go into everything with an open mind, yet there’s always a small part of me that is expecting the worst. “There’s no way this book is going to satisfy me” or “Of course this film isn’t going to live up to my expectations.” It sucks. But every once in a while I get rewarded for my patience, and such is the case for the recently released Deadpool.
I may not be Deadpool’s longest or most die-hard fan, but boy do I love the bastard. After getting introduced to the character in Daniel Way’s 2008 rebooted series, it was hard for me not to fall in love with the guy. He had all the wit of my favorite web-head, with the kind of over-the-top violence that appealed to my then-15-year-old self. And the best part was that he was everywhere at the time, appearing in three or four separate story arcs at once, if I remember correctly. I fell out of comics shortly after (I’m back now), but that’s a story for another time.
Now here we are eight years later, and after a long, arduous road of waiting for the movie that seemed more like a child’s wishful thinking, the Merc with a Mouth is finally receiving the big screen treatment he so rightfully deserves. As talk of comic book fatigue begins swirling around the film industry, one only has to watch Deadpool to wonder if it is the subject matter that it is creating the fatigue, or the formula used to create these superhero movies. Because, in short, the beauty of Deadpool is that it plays by its own rules. It’s not just that the character is unlike any other, but it is clear from the start that the movie itself doesn’t give a shit.
As I have said to a few people already, Deadpool is not a good film. It isn’t. From a story perspective, it is perhaps one of the most formulaic movies I have seen in quite some time, but this is the same reason it works so well. Considering Deadpool is still largely a niche character outside of the “nerd community,” you can’t get too deep into the minutia of the character without alienating most moviegoers. You need to ease them into his insane world, and everyone knows the general public loves a good damsel in distress being saved by a gun-toting anti-hero. It’s, like, Filmmaking 101.
So the story is awful, we can all agree on this. But do you want to know what’s more important than that? The fact that Deadpool agrees with this. One of the big concerns leading up to this movie’s release was whether or not the character’s fourth wall breaking and self-awareness would become an issue of overuse. Thankfully, the studio navigated this problem beautifully by having two narratives going on at the same time: his origin story and his pursuit of Francis. The moment you feel bogged down by Wade Wilson’s origin, you switch perspectives, and vice versa.
In fact, the only lull in the movie is probably during Wade Wilson’s transformation. The extended torture scenes by Francis go on for far too long, making this section in particular feel a little out of place amidst Wilson’s constant wisecracking. One minute we’re watching Deadpool break both of his hands and the next we’re watching him get injected, drowned, electrocuted, and suffocated. On one hand it helps show what Wilson had to sacrifice to survive, on the other it creates a large blemish on an otherwise sidesplittingly funny adventure.
And above all else, this is what I want to stress the most: Deadpool is easily the funniest comic book movie we have seen thus far. Honestly, from the comics I have personally read, none of Deadpool’s story arcs have been amazing to me, so I was more concerned about personality and soul over the film’s narrative, and in that department the film delivers 100%. Robert Downey Jr. may be looked at as the perfect Iron Man, and Chris Evans the perfect Captain America, but Ryan Reynolds is, without question, the perfect Deadpool.
I would be lying if I said anything other than Reynolds’ performance carried the film and made it worth the viewing. His love for the character and his unwavering dedication to executing the role perfectly shows in every single frame, joke, and gag. He embodies this character in a way I have never seen before. In most comic movies, there’s always a scene where the performance slips, where the actor no longer feels like the character on screen. It’s usually small and forgivable, but the fact that this never happened here is commendable and greatly appreciated.
Unsurprisingly, there are already think pieces popping up about the things that are wrong with Deadpool, one of which included the inclusion of pop culture references, but that is Deadpool. He is a pop culture reference, but he is also a damaged soul, and a smart ass, and guy who just doesn’t know when to shut his mouth. He’s out to have fun and make money, and when you think about it, that’s exactly what this film is set out to do. So, no, Deadpool may not go down as a prime example of cinema, but why would it? It’s about a guy who kills people and jokes about jerking off, and in that respect, Deadpool succeeds where most comic book movies fail: it’s faithful to the character.