Deadpool is a film with a fair amount of history leading up to it’s production. Way back in 2009, X Men Origins: Wolverine was released, featuring a much-anticipated portrayal of anti-hero Deadpool by perceived dream actor for the role, Ryan Reynolds. The film was a disaster critically and almost killed the X-Men franchise, but there was something else it almost killed, the Deadpool character.
In the comics, Deadpool is characterised as a fast-talking, ass-kicking anti-hero fond of a fourth-wall break in this movie, the studio, in their infinite wisdom, had his mouth sewn shut. A character who lives and dies on his motormouth had his mouth sewn shut.
This film then, released in 2016, was the result of many years of campaigning from both the fans and Reynolds himself, who wanted to write the wrongs and make a true representation of the Deadpool character. The reason it took so long hinged on the notion that an R-rated comic book movie wouldn’t bring in money for the studio, so it was only afforded a small budget before it was given the green light, finally.
As we know now, their fears were completely unfounded as Deadpool ended up being the highest grossing R-rated movie of all time, and a sequel (with a much higher budget) was hastily ordered.
So, with the history lesson out of the way, what is the movie like? Well, that could be complicated.
To me, this movie is as fun of several barrels full of whimsical monkeys. Sure, it’s not particularly deep and at times extremely silly, put therein lies its appeal. While other comic-book movies were weaving tales of planets, and sometimes entire galaxies, in peril, Deadpool was about an unhinged unapologetic anti-hero, who was not only aware that he was in a movie but actively embraced it, taking a sledgehammer to any notion of a fourth wall.
Its story is relatively simple as superhero narratives go, Wade Wilson, a mercenary with a razor-sharp tongue, is diagnosed with incurable cancer, he then meets a shady man in a bar who tells him about a secret experiment to cure all ailments. Suffice to say the process doesn’t go to plan and Wade ends up disfigured from the experiments, but gains mutations which make him stronger and faster, and basically immortal. From there on in his motivation is to hunt down the man responsible, Francis, for his disfigurement, and hopefully, restore his good-looks for good.
Despite the shallowness of the plot, there’s tremendous fun to be had watching Deadpool go through legions of henchmen in his pursuit of Francis, the characters are occasionally stock and cliched, but this is also openly acknowledged by the film, depending on your view you could call that clever or pretentious, I think it sits comfortably on the border of both.
Deadpool isn’t the only stand-out character from this venture however, as we get introduced to his colourful friends throughout the film, firstly there’s Vanessa, Wade’s love interest who is almost a mirror for Wade, Weasel, Wade’s best friend and owner of the mercenary bar, Negasonic Teenage Warhead and Colossus, two members of the X-Men tasked with tracking Deadpool down and trying to turn him to the side of the heroes, all the while acting as verbal sparring partner and straight man respectively and Al, Deadpool’s blind, old housemate.
There’s something innately likeable about the characters presented, whether we’re supposed to or not, even Francis himself is likeable on some level, in a way only villains can be and Deadpool, Negasonic Teenage Warhead and Colossus act as an incredibly entertaining triple act.
The budget cuts are glaring in some parts, but like everything else contentious is played for laughs in the movie such as a running gag wherein Deadpool forgets his stash of guns and in one memorable moment quipping that the studio “couldn’t afford” another X-Men member. Again, depending on your sensibilities this could come across as grating and again, pretentious, or you could see it as a smart way to work around their limitations, as the budget cut there could be spent elsewhere where it could be better used, such as the final battle.
I suppose to say whether this is a good movie would depend on your preference. I’ve heard it called ‘over-indulgent’ and ‘shallow’ before and I understand this viewpoint. What Deadpool brings to the table isn’t to everyone’s tastes, whether it be his reliance on sarcastic humour or his consistent fourth-wall breaks. But for those disappointed by his portray back in 2009, this was the vindication they were waiting for. Proof that a Deadpool movie could work on the characters merits, however dubious you may find them.
In conclusion, it is no Godfather or Citizen Kane, but it doesn’t need to be. It set out to make a fun, balls-to-the-wall action comic-book movie tinged with Deadpool’s trademark humour and they succeeded, putting pressure on any forthcoming instalments as the first set the bar and will remain a tough act to follow.