I have never read a Marvel comic.
There. I said it. In fact, I’ve never read any superhero comic that isn’t about a man who dresses like a bat. I think superheroes are all well and good, but I’ve never felt compelled to go into the history. As such, pretty much every superhero film I see I come into without real expectations. I don’t know who, what, or why any given hero is, so the film can’t use its history as a crutch. Of course, there are certain characters who are just part of the general consciousness. There’s the X-Men, Spiderman, etc. I will recognize things about them because they’re just part of pop culture. But once we get past the A-listers? Well that’s wholly uncharted territory.
Deadpool? That’s uncharted territory. “He’s the guy who breaks the fourth wall, right?” was the entirety of my character knowledge prior to walking into that theater. I was excited about it, because people said it looked cool and it’s not like there’s a whole lot else to be excited about right now… but I wasn’t going to clap just because someone mentioned Chimichangas (which, I’ve been told, is relevant to the character in some way). It had to earn my applause.
Spoiler alert: It did.
Director: Tim Miller
Release Date: February 12, 2016
I think Deadpool will go down in history as the superhero movie that changed everything. It’s all been flipped upside down now. And I can tell you exactly when it happened. During a particularly fantastic montage, time passes through the holidays and a couple’s sexual exploits. It goes and goes and goes, and then suddenly Ryan Reynolds is on all fours. And you think, “No way.” And then, yes way, his girlfriend pegs him. If you don’t know what pegging is, you’re, uh, welcome to look it up. The point is: This is a movie that features that scene. That fascinating, beautiful scene.
Of course, I knew right from the outset that this movie was a big deal. Its opening credits are brilliant not just because of what they show, but what accompanies them. It doesn’t some “A Tim Miller Film”; it says “Some douchebag’s film.” Not “Ryan Reynolds” but “God’s Perfect Idiot.” “Produced by Assholes.” Etc. And none of these people get named until the credits roll. Can you imagine that? This big-budget studio movie features an opening credits sequence, but it uses that sequence for an extended gag. No one is above it. Nothing is sacred.
Presumably, that’s what you want from a Deadpool movie. I don’t really know, but the elated reaction of those around me certainly implied as much. It’s what I wanted, even though I didn’t necessarily know it at the time. I just knew that I wanted to have a good time and maybe see some fourth walls get broken. Also, ya know, I wanted to see what an R-rated superhero movie would look like. Because no, this is not the first R-rated comic book movie (or even superhero movie), but it is most assuredly the first R-rated superhero movie like this. When I try to think of anything at all like it, I just come up with Kickass. Maybe Wanted? Something inspired by Mark Millar.
But those films honestly aren’t anything like Deadpool. They’re small scale, lacking the truly explosive factor of actual superheroes who can actually wreck things with their magical super skills. Deadpool has that, in the form of two members of the X-Men: “An Emo Teen” and “A CGI Character,” per the opening credits. (Of course, you wonder why they only have two, and two that I’d never heard of before. Well, so does Deadpool! Or, rather, he answers it, rhetorically: “It’s like the studio didn’t have enough money for anyone else.” (Or something to that effect.)) But these characters serve as the perfect foil to Deadpool. The emo teen is just that, an emo teen, and Deadpool loves it. He is so absolutely into her attitude problems, and, as such, so was I. The CGI character, whose CG presentation is so-so but effectively justified by him being introduced as “A CGI Character” is even better. He wants to be in a PG-13 X-Men movie so badly, but Deadpool just has to go and do R-rated things. The dynamic there is a joy to watch, and it
The first trailer for Batman V. Superman came out around the same time as the first season of the Netflix Daredevil series. At the time, I got into a debate (well, argument) about grittiness in comic book movies. She claimed (and was not alone in thinking) that it was hypocritical of people to praise Daredevil’s grit in the same sentence that they lambasted BvS’s. Of course, that argument is fundamentally flawed, because it’s not about “grit” at all; it’s about staying true to the character. Daredevil’s world is a dark one, a gritty one. Batman’s too, really. Superman has a symbol for hope on his chest, and he’s… what? Man of Steel is a lot of things, but hopeful ain’t one of them. And it doesn’t look like Dawn of Justice is going to do much to change that. Marvel let Daredevil be the character he’s supposed to be, while DC didn’t do the same for a man who blocks bullets with his eyes.
Deadpool is Marvel, once again, letting a character be who they should be. I’m oh-so-glad that this was a Fox production and not a Disney one, because I don’t think that would have been true if Disney had handled it. If Deadpool was part of the Cinematic Universe, I think… well, I don’t even think they would have tried to put the character in at all. He simply cannot work within that context. But he can work within his own, and the one in which the X-Men are real. The Fox MCU is all about mutants, and Deadpool both as a title character and a film in general is consistent with that.
But Fox took a gamble making an R-rated superhero movie. They could have tried for mass-market appeal (maybe) and neutered the character entirely. But instead, they said, “No. You want Ryan Reynold’s to get pegged? Go for it, dude.” It’s a gutsy move, and it pays off in spades precisely because it feels right, even to someone who knows nothing about Deadpool. I know that this film did the character justice, because there are too many crazy decisions for them to not be. Nothing about this movie is “safe,” and that’s exactly the way it should be.
Some people will complain about the fact that we’re getting yet another origin story and that the origin story itself isn’t unique or whatever, but neither of those things bothered me. There are two reasons for that.
1) I don’t know Deadpool’s origin story.
2) Being “Original” isn’t even sort of the point.
Deadpool’s origin, as told by this film, is fucked up. Honestly, the torture sequences wouldn’t be out of place in some kind of horror movie (something which the film itself notes). The fact that it’s so brutal does make it stand out (thinking back on it, V for Vendetta seems similar, particularly given how the kraken is released), but even if it didn’t, so what? I may be able to expect the beats, but I don’t know them line-for-line like Batman or Spiderman or whoever. As a way to introduce this character to what will hopefully be a flourishing franchise, I really wouldn’t have had it any other way.
For the second time in three months, I am imploring you to see this film. Not just because it’s excellent (though it is), but also because it’s a film that deserves success. (Side note: Both this and The Revenant were distributed by Fox. Good on those people. Seriously.) This is a gamble that paid off in spades from an entertainment perspective, and I want it to make a heckuva lot of money. So, make it happen. I know that I’ll be seeing it again.
It’s so good, you guys.