Despite its obvious air of self-satisfaction, Deadpool is neither as funny, clever or as radical as it thinks it is.
Director: Tim Miller
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, T. J. Miller, Ed Skrein, Gina Carano, Brianna Hildebrand
Smart-mouthed anti-hero Deadpool has become an increasingly popular figure amidst Marvel Comics’ stable of superheroes in recent years. But his first cinematic appearance, where he was played by Ryan Reynolds in the dreadful X-Men Origins: Wolverine, was a massive disappointment for fans, some fairly out-there creative decisions rendering the character an impotent shadow of his comic book self.
Still, with Marvel deciding to take a second bite at the apple with origin story Deadpool, they have turned once again to Reynolds, and no surprise – his wisecracker shtick is a perfect fit for the Merc with the Mouth. If only every aspect of the film worked as well.
If the gloriously, gratuitously violent opening scene doesn’t demonstrate that Deadpool aims to be different from most comic-book films, then the credits certainly do. They proudly proclaim that we can expect to see such comic book movie staples as ‘the computer generated character’ and ‘the British villain’, while declaring that the film was produced by some ‘asshats’, directed by an ‘overpaid tool’, and written by ‘the real heroes’.
Deadpool himself is an anarchic character: dirty-minded, filthy-mouthed and with a propensity for breaking the fourth wall. Sporting a red-and-black costume that’s more like a bondage suit than the batsuit, he’s also not above the odd homoerotic quip, although all his on-screen sexual activities are kept limited to the ladies, lest Marvel make anyone in the audience feel too uncomfortable.
That said, the film does allow Deadpool’s prostitute girlfriend Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) to, shall we say, take charge in one scene in a way that we don’t normally see in comic book movie fare.
Deadpool cleverly avoids the usual problem of origin stories – namely that the hero doesn’t actually show up for half the film – by beginning after Wade Wilson has already adopted the red-and-black costume, and flashing back occasionally to his pre-Deadpool days. This method also serves to break up the main story and disguise how thin it really is. Once Wade has become Deadpool there’s not much left to offer, particularly when there isn’t really anything to Ed Skrein’s British Villain other than a skinhead haircut and a thuggish attitude.
With his snarky attitude and quick-fire jokes, at least Deadpool himself is a more interesting character to be around than the humourlessly stony-faced likes of Superman or Batman. But, aside from a few killer lines, the constant stream of dick jokes and dated pop culture references start to wear thin after a while. A film like this lives and dies on the quality of its gags, and while there are some laugh-out-loud moments, too many others fall flat.
What’s more, Deadpool tries to have its cake and eat it too when it comes to both spoofing comic book movie tropes and reusing them wholesale. We get the same fight scenes where people are inconsequentially hurled through walls, the same explosive climactic set-piece, even a Stan Lee cameo.
Vanessa might be given a bit more sexual agency than most superhero love interests, but ultimately she’s reduced to just another damsel in distress. There’s even an appearance by a couple of X-men, and though the script does offer us a little in the way of meta-commentary, their presence in a film where they don’t really belong serves only to remind us that, while Deadpool may take aim at superhero movies, it remains firmly part of the Marvel brand.
Deadpool clips along at an enjoyable enough pace, and offers just enough new to make it stand out somewhat from the usual pack of caped crusaders. But despite its obvious air of self-satisfaction it is neither as funny, clever or as radical as it thinks it is. In the end, for all the Merc with the Mouth’s antics, Deadpool is just another highly watchable but unspectacular comic-book movie.
This article was originally published on badcantina.com
Images from Fox