A New Class Of Superhero
Through the use of multiple flashbacks, we are introduced to Wade Wilson [Reynolds], an ex-military mercenary with a loose set of morals that could be misconstrued as heart. Enjoying a drink at his regular merc haunt, Wade meets volatile prostitute Vanessa [Baccarin]. The pair hit it off right away and embark on a year long blissful relationship. All of which is scuppered by a crushing revelation as Wade is diagnosed with multiple cancers in several of his vital organs. The couple do their best to work through it but Wade refuses to let Vanessa watch him deteriorate into nothing. Acting rashly, Wade agrees to meet with a shady contact who has offered to cure his cancer and give him superpowers. Midway through the violent and horrific procedures, it becomes apparent that Wade is being experimented on with the intent of being sold as a super-powered slave. The procedure works to a degree, gifting Wade with a healing factor that combats the cancer (and any other ailment) as fast as it can grow, making him essentially immortal but it also leaves him hideously scarred and disfigured. The rest of the film is Wade’s quest for vengeance and hopefully a cure to his dermatological predicament.
There is an assumption that all superhero films are for children and with the huge financial and critical success of these franchises, it couldn’t be more inaccurate. On top of that, audiences often assume all superhero characters are exactly the same; which is equally stupid. If we take Christopher Nolan’s Batman and Richard Donner’s Superman, these are distinctly different films but largely because the personality and moral drive of the respective central characters differ. As such, Deadpool may not feel like your typical superhero film but is respectful (if that’s the appropriate word) of the humour, temperament, focus and content of the source material; more so than most adaptations it seems. In my opinion, Scott Pilgrim and now Deadpool are the most ‘feel like the comic’ film adaptations but both suffer heavily in their own ways.
Deadpool always seems to attract the biggest douchebags and socially inept individuals (I can say that because I’m one of them) because they can live vicariously through this absurd individual but when written well, Deadpool is a genuinely interesting and rounded character who is using violence and humour as a coping method for loss and abuse. Back when I reviewed the dire X-Men Origins: Wolverine, one positive point of praise was the perfect casting of Reynolds as Wade Wilson. This has clearly been both an ideal match and a bit of a curse for Mr. Reynolds for though he may be the embodiment of the character, studios have never been able to get behind the kind of film where he can flourish. This has often led to watered-down versions, tame imitations and abandoned scripts. Thankfully Reynolds acting as actor, producer and extremely vocal champion for this film has ensured it delivers the kind of release that fans have demanded for quite some time. Much like Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, it’s incredibly difficult to think of anyone else who would fit the role as well, so I have nothing but absolute unending praise for Reynolds’ persistence, fortitude, charisma and lasting resolve. However, this also generates a huge problem. Deadpool is such an explosively erratic and eccentric character that everyone around him pales in comparison.
The supports are plentiful and hark back to the comic (I’m quietly confident they even managed to squeeze a non-Hydra Hydra Bob in there) but the sheer quantity of them paired with the lack of remaining screen time means that everyone who isn’t named Deadpool is a touch underdeveloped. Gina Carano still isn’t an actress but she pulls off the Bond henchman act rather well, TJ Miller is hilarious but so much more could have been done with Weasel, same goes for Leslie Uggams as Blind Al and while she could have been really irksome, Brianna Hildebrand’s turn as Negasonic Teenage Warhead (with powers that have nothing to do with Negasonic Teenage Warhead, from what I recall) was acceptable. I usually detest Ed Skrein. I find him base level and mediocre, like a hybrid of Paul Bettany, Nicholas Hoult and Jason Statham with none of their charm, talent or acting skill (so just Jason Statham) but Skrein really suits the role of Ajax. Vicious and malevolent, both victim and perpetrator, he is afforded a fair range and oozes a sinister unpleasantness that most bad guys can’t explore so as to remain within their PG-acceptable releases. Yet I remain conflicted when it comes to one of the key supports: Wade’s equally messed-up, foul mouthed girlfriend Vanessa. The comedy and violence we all expected but the heart behind it was a welcome treat. Much like Tarantino’s insistence that True Romance is a love story, the bond between Wade and Vanessa is a great pairing. Both have their own problems but to quote the film, “your crazy matches my crazy” and really that’s kind of what love is; it’s probably more honest and credible than most forced love connections depicted in action films. I’m not saying it’s perfect, of course, as Vanessa is just as underutilised as the rest of the cast but she’s an empowered woman who knows what she wants, stands up for herself and helps out rather than just screaming and waiting to be saved.
For a limited budget, a great deal has been achieved here. It’s a very small-scale film compared to most of the world-ending high-stakes superhero movies but delivers a spectacular amount. The fight sequences are well-shot and entertaining, the locations and sets are varied and everything culminates in a pretty epic but contained showdown at the.. I dunno.. burnt-out aircraft carrier dry dock graveyard? Then we have the use of CGI and in my opinion, it’s the very best use of CGI. To clarify, it is my belief that computer generated effects should be used to subtly enhance what is already present. Too many films make the mistake of assuming CGI can fix everything. Case in point here, Deadpool’s mask is very subtly animated, specifically to allow facial expressions to show through – something which the comic relies on. Speaking of the mask, aside from Raimi’s Spider-Man and Iron Man, films have real difficulty accurately portraying superhero costumes. On one end of the spectrum we have the brightly coloured, form-fitting lycra and on the other we have battle armour that is merely inspired by the comic look. Granted, Deadpool is a relatively new hero (90s), so his look isn’t overly outlandish or difficult to replicate but thanks to the subtle additional animation, impressive make-up and the care that’s been taken in the pre-production design phase, this iteration of Deadpool looks like a pitch-perfect comic replica. Not to mention the fact that Negasonic Teenage Warhead displays an accurate black-and-yellow New Mutants body suit. And finally we come to Tom Holkenborg’s score. Fresh off his success with Mad Max: Fury Road and his upcoming work on Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice, he’s more than equipped to handle big-scale action and light tender moments. Much like Guardians Of The Galaxy, the music here is very simple and fitting but knows it is playing second fiddle to the cheesy pop tracks utilised for comic effect.
But I’m afraid it’s not all sunshine, rainbows and unicorn jizz, Deadpool is a pretty flawed release. As a platform to honestly represent the popular character and launch into franchise crossover appearances and sequels, it’s great. As a standalone story, it’s extremely simplistic and despite the fourth wall breaking satire, conforms to the superhero origin trait neatly. With the sheer quantity of superhero releases from 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros and Disney/Marvel, origins are incredibly tedious, time consuming and dull. While audiences need to know the how and why of the character, we don’t really care and after you’ve sacrificed half the runtime, you don’t have a great deal to work with in order to establish a compelling narrative. Also, in spite of being so meta and self-aware, it’s not nearly as scathing as it could be. Bar the occasional jab at box office bombs X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Green Lantern, not to mention an extremely amusing comment about multiple actors portraying Professor Xavier, it’s all very surface level and tepid. And that’s assuming you like the character Deadpool. Any time he appears in any medium, people seem to have the split opinion that they either view him as an unpredictable complex comic relief or the annoying personification of a teenage boy’s mind. I must confess, I side with the former category and as such very much enjoyed this release and look forward to building on the absurdity in more outings with Mr. Pool.
12th February 2016
The Scene To Look Out For:
Reynolds gets a lot of flak when it comes to carrying a film but regular readers will know I think rather highly of this incredibly talented and charming individual. What’s almost always overlooked, however, is his ability to emote wonderfully. As stated earlier, this film is rife with comedy and gore but it’s also surprisingly tender. Coming to terms with his diagnosis but not wanting to be a burden on the love of his life, Wade sits sobbing in the dark by the window, later deflecting with comedy that he was having a nightmare about kidnapping Liam Neeson. The use of comedy to undercut something very serious and touching is the very reason why Reynolds is perfect for this role. Either that or touching Blind Al’s face with his tiny hand because.. there are no words. Tiny hand.
So aside from the might of Deadpool himself, I really enjoyed Colossus. Piotr Rasputin has made several appearances in the previous X-Men instalments but mostly as a background character and never very well. Personally I liked the authoritarian mentor attitude and conservative helpful nature, representing what most other superhero films stand for. On top of that, his introduction and the Xavier mansion reveal reminds you this isn’t a standalone but a spin-off, set in the established X-Men cinematic universe. Which, despite not exactly being a new thing, feels surprising – most probably due to the graphic nature of this release. But again, that’s usually how it feels in the comics when a character like Stephen Strange or Cyclops turns up in a Deadpool story and this link is greatly appreciated.
“I know what you’re thinking, whose balls did I have to fondle to get my very own movie? Don’t tell anyone but it rhymes with polverine”
In A Few Words:
“This film is the manifestation of fan service done well. Far from perfect but what fans have been craving for years”