I have never enjoyed Deadpool as a leading man. Despite his creator and writers best efforts, Wade Wilson aka Deadpool aka The Merc With The Mouth, has never been a character that I enjoyed as the sole focus of a story. Sure, Deadpool can be hilarious and heartfelt at times in his solo series, but by the time I come to the end of a Deadpool solo series issue, I have gotten my Deadpool fix and am more than ready to move onto something else. The Deadpool stories that I recommend to people are the ones where he’s part of a team. Series like X-Force and Cable & Deadpool, which pair him with other heroes, utilizing him as comic relief, whether that be psychotic one liners or how other heroes perceive his psychosis.
So, when it was announced that Deadpool would be getting his own solo feature film, my expectations were low. My hesitation to jump for joy stemmed from my assuming that the film would essentially be one punch line after another, with little variety in its structure or plot. There was also the lingering elephant in the room that this would be Ryan Reynolds second foray playing The Merc with a Mouth – Reynolds played a bizarre adaptation of Deadpool in Wolverine Origins. Reynolds also stared in the widely Panned DC Comics Green Lantern film. Whether Reynolds was to blame for these previous poor superhero outings is up for debate, but what isn’t is the publics perception of him when it comes to superhero films.
Fortunately, I was very wrong about Deadpool. Director Tim Miller, has taken our beloved Deadpool and humanized him, while still retaining the essentially traits that make him, well, Deadpool.
Underneath That Crimson Spandex, There’s A Heart
I have never cared for Wade Wilson. Sure, I like him as a character, he’s funny, he’s insane, and despite his best intentions, he’s definitely an outcast in the Marvel universe. But there have been very few Deadpool stories that have made me feel for, and connect with, him on an emotional level. And this is the films greatest accomplishment, in that it takes this brash, generally unlikeable mercenary and grounds his origin in a reality that everyone can relate too on some level. I have only ever read the cliff notes of Deadpool’s origin, but the films dark portrayal of what he underwent at the hands of the Weapon X program, coupled with a genuine love story, left me feeling something I’d never associated with the character before; sympathy. I felt for Wade Wilson, and had director Tim Miller decided against this approach, I probably wouldn’t have found Deadpool nearly as enjoyable as I did. These very real, heartfelt moments helped break up, what would otherwise feel monotonous, the chaotically comedic focus of the film.
A serious flaw of most superhero films is that their pacing is bogged down by trying to tell an origin story, which almost always becomes detrimental to the progression of the films main plot. With the exception of the films fifteen minute fight scene climax, Deadpool’s pacing is surprisingly fluid, and avoids many of the tropes that bring superhero films cohesiveness to a grinding halt. Deadpool’s ability to seamlessly meld his origin story, and not allowing it to feel intrusive to the films main narrative, keeps the films progression at a steady pace, and breaks up the slew of one liners, which otherwise would start to feel monotonous by the films hour and thirty minute run time.
Deadpool Is LOL Funny…..Yeah, I Said It
I have not laughed out loud in the theatre in a very long time. I’m not putting myself on some sort of comedic pedestal, “My sense of humor is so superior to yours that I rarely laugh!, but there have been few movies in recent memory that have been hilarious from start to finish. I left my screening of Deadpool with sore cheeks & strained abdominal muscles. My laughter joined the symphony of laughter that seemingly every person in the theatre was contributing too. The kind of laughter that drowns out the film, to the point you miss the next small piece of dialogue being spoken. This was the first time that I had communally experienced a comedy that’s punchlines were met with several long seconds of non-stop laughter from an entire audience. Was every single joke hilarious? Of course not, but the good jokes certainly outweighed the less than stellar ones – more on that below.
Pre-Pubescent Humor Is Played Out
Perhaps I think I’m more mature than I actually am, but I have a low tolerance for bathroom humor. Typically, most comedies that feature excessive bathroom humor are catered towards Kevin James fans. Part of Deadpool’s appeal is his immaturity, which makes his interactions with other, more refined, heroes hilarious. Sure, poop and masturbation jokes are nothing new to Deadpool’s vernacular, but they occur periodically throughout the film, and every time I cringed. It’s not that I find this type of humor especially heinous or crass, but the films writing and self awareness – some of the best jokes are Deadpool breaking the 4th wall, such as referring to Reynolds previous superhero debacles- that these bathroom humor jokes slightly detract from what I would say is one of the best dark comedies of 2016, so far. Do they ruin the film? No, but every time they occurred I groaned, as I knew the writers of Deadpool were capable of more.
Deadpool is the R-rated superhero film we needed. A surprisingly heartfelt, dark comedy that ushers in a new era of adult focused superhero films. Deadpool’s stellar box office opening has already green lit a sequel, and Fox Studios has indicated more R-rated superhero films are on there way. This might not seem like a big deal, but it is. This film simply would not have worked with a PG-13 rating, as the writers material would have had to be edited or filtered. Part of Deadpools appeal is that he has no filter. He says what he’s thinking, or hallucinating, and by muzzling his character we would have received a half baked and watered down version of what fans actually wanted. Fortunately, Reynolds and Miller have given fans exactly what they wanted out of a Deadpool film, equal parts comedy to equal parts visceral combat to equal parts insanity. With a plethora of superhero films being released this year, Deadpool sets the bar rather high, and will hopefully become the trend setter of adult oriented superhero films.