Thursday, February 11, 2016

I saw Deadpool...

As many know, Ryan Reynolds as Wade Wilson, aka Deadpool (aka "Merc with the Mouth", to those in the special know), is nothing new. He played the character in “Wolverine: X-Men Origins”, though not in quite the same vein. Since “X-Men: Days of Future Past” twisted reality enough to justify reinvented angles within the mutant mythology, the Deadpool of the first Logan offshoot is but a ghostly imprint in the wake of this new and irreverent salute.

In director Tim Miller's current “reality”, scripted by Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese, Wilson is as much a sympathetic character as he is an affable goofball; and a clever mercenary plagued by cancer. In keeping with Deadpool's Marvel persona, he's also a quippy son of a gun, whether in regular or mutant form. 

Deadpool's genesis starts (or should that be, restarts?) when a mysterious recruiter (Jed Rees) offers Wilson a cure, but the strange substance (which our anti-hero initially receives via injection) changes Wade's physiological condition in more ways than one. After a long, torturous process, the cancer is gone, but his skin has become monstrously rippled. On the bright side, he's gained extraordinary, physical abilities, like being able to leap with ninja-like finesse through the air and kill opponents with only a few swift swipes...oh, and he has healing attributes that would make even the resilient Wolverine envious. 

This extraordinary alteration makes it hard for Wilson to interact with others, including his girlfriend, Vanessa (Morena "Gotham" Baccarin), to whom he's too ashamed to show himself. On the other hand, he's fine with his best buddy, Weasel (T.J. Miller) and his roommate, Blind Al (Leslie Uggams), who are more than at ease when delivering dry-humored jabs. 

The film is actually told in partial flashback, with Wilson already wearing his nifty, sword-strapped suit and kicking butt when the film commences. However, throughout it all, Deadpool (a name Wilson culls from a morbid bar game) remains a non-stop, wisecracking dynamo, which makes his brawls comedic despite their violent, R-rated frills. Also, being part of the X-Men world, he's accompanied by similar mutant ilk, like the powerful Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) and the fiery Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), who keep an eye on our energetic buffoon as he seeks revenge on a villain who takes his name from Classic mythology--Ajax (Ed Skrein).

Ajax (aka Francis), we learn, was also transformed by the formula and was instrumental in Wilson's mutation: a ruse to make him part of a super-villain league. Wilson's hatred for Ajax is strong and worsens when his adversary kidnaps Vanessa, sending him over the uncontrollable edge. 

Ajax is a tough egg to crack, though, and his leverage is strengthened through his sadistic sidekick, Angel Dust (Gina Carano). The dastardly duo does everything it can to thwart Deadpool's quest to regain Vanessa, with most of the altercations occurring on urban turf, which gives the film a gritty, though sometimes dismal quality.

In truth, the story is far from innovative, but special in how it's told. Much of its success springs from Reynolds' annunciation: a sassy, borderline effeminate delivery, which winks and nods at the audience along the way. (Even Reynold's Hal Jordan/Green Lantern persona is poked fun at, as well as the actor himself.) Through his verbosity, Wilson/Deadpool puts the audience at ease and in on the joke, but never goes so far as to make the action a full-fledged spoof: a smart move, for only "Batman '66" ever handled tongue-in-cheek with consistent ease.

It should be noted that some viewers will find the film's stark violence and colorful language offensive. (This reaction has been projected prior to the film's release, with a parent petitioning for a kid-friendly version, or was such just a clever, publicity ploy?) Don't get me wrong, I generally fancy my superheroes a tad more on the straight and narrow than the smart-alecky Deadpool, but with the vast amount of superhero movies and television shows populating current culture, there's more than enough to go around. It just so happens that this entry (like the "Kick-Ass", "RoboCop" and "Toxic Avenger" installments) is aimed at a mature audience (though I'm sure ballsier kids will be happy to indulge). Those not ready for such austerity would be wise to avoid it, or at least wait until they're older (or bolder) to tackle its flamboyant excess.

Personally, I think "Deadpool" is a pretty good picture, and in the end (SPOILER!), everything pretty much works out in a weird, feel-good sort of way. It's not the greatest superhero movie ever made, but it more than holds its own with the competition, giving a nice, personable touch to an otherwise predictable set-up. More importantly, it toys with the X-Men mythology without ever demeaning it; and perhaps if there's any reason to recommend the film, it's for that astonishing accomplishment alone.


  1. I also wanted to add that Karan Soni is great in a supporting role as Deadpool's cab driver (turning up in the prologue and then later in the film). I imagine he'll be in the sequel. If not, what a shame.

    Also, it was nice to see Patrick Warburton in a couple quick spots (one being rather gruesome), but I'd have preferred him in a sturdier, extended henchman role, if he really had to play a bad guy here. If anything, though, "Deadpool" may help Warburton get that long desired "Tick" revival off the ground. Man, is that ever overdue, but in a lot of ways, the timing for such couldn't be better. If it's gonna happen, it's likely to happen soon or I fear, not at all.

  2. Fascinating that "Deadpool" kicked major butt at the box office over the Valentine's Day weekend. With its R-rating, I didn't expect it to hit so high.

    When I saw the movie, there were no teenagers in attendance (or more precisely, no adolescent boys of the age-range who could have gotten in to see the film). I asked some friends who saw the movie if that was the case where they attended, and they confirmed the same.

    There may be something to learn from this, for I still suspect there's a changing of the times when it comes to a superhero/neo-pulp character audience. I've noticed that many male teens don't have the interest in characters like Mad Max, Lone Ranger, RoboCop, Terminator...Deadpool, at least not like in the past. I wonder, as the years pass, and those of my older ilk fade away, what will then become of the action-based genre? "Deadpool" may be a hit today, but will its likes still be so after my generation bids adios.

  3. And so it has begun..."Wolverine 3" will be R-rated. I wonder now how "Deadpool'"s success will impact other X-Men flicks. "Apocalypse" is in the can, so it'll stand as is, I'm sure, but when it comes to other adventures, there's no telling what adult-oriented extras may enter.