It’s hard to believe that it has been two years since we saw some exciting leaked footage, and who can forget (although I wish I could) his first big screen appearance seven years ago in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Deadpool is the first R-rated mainstream comic book film adaptation. Had the aforementioned footage not been leaked (and subsequently gone completely viral) many believe that the studios would have never had the courage to make the Deadpool movie that fans really wanted. Lots of vocal and devoted fans stepped forward to pine for this movie’s creation, the most notable being its leading man. There is now a good case to be made that this will not be the last Deadpool film, much less the last adult themed comic book adaptation: This movie is legitimately good.
Without giving too much away, you need a simple primer on the Merc with a Mouth. According to Marvel’s info sheet, Deadpool possesses a superhuman healing factor, similar to but even greater than that of the mutant Wolverine, which allows him to regenerate damaged or destroyed areas of his cellular structure at a rate far greater than that of an ordinary human. As such, he can regrow severed limbs or vital organs. This healing factor also affords Deadpool an enhanced resistance to diseases and an extended life span. Due to the presence of this superhuman healing ability, many of Deadpool’s natural physical attributes have been enhanced, granting him superhuman levels of stamina, and his natural strength, agility and reflexes have been increased to levels that are beyond the natural limits of the human body. As if that weren’t enough, Deadpool is an extraordinary hand-to-hand combatant and is skilled in multiple unarmed combat techniques. He is a master of assassination techniques, is an excellent marksman, and is highly skilled with bladed weapons.
Say what you will about this sword-wielding, gun-toting, foul-mouthed, chimichanga-loving, fourth wall-breaking anti-hero, but Tim Miller and company absolutely nailed the character in his self-titled movie. Reynolds was always the prefect actor to play Wade Wilson as is evidenced by the brief introduction we have to his character in X-Men Origins: Wolverine before that awful transformation, but Deadpool also gave Ryan Reynolds a chance to spring back from the comic book purgatory which he landed in after his Green Lantern disappointment.
Deadpool did so much well. I was genuinely surprised by the way that it addressed my hopes and fears and still exceeded my expectations as a fanboy. In other words, I went in hoping for something appeasing and walked away having watched a genuinely good super hero movie. Here’s what the movie did particularly well:
- The humor was almost perfect. I use the qualifier “almost” because there were more than a couple instances when I felt like jokes were being thrown at me simply because one had not been uttered in the last few seconds. And, while some of the pop culture references hit me as a thirtysomething, I’m sure they missed the mark of an 18-year-old who may have never heard of Wham!, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, or Faulty Towers. Criticism aside, the overwhelming majority of the jokes landed well and made sense in context. They didn’t overplay the fourth wall breaking and they managed a solid mix of witty (or obscene) one liners and hilarious physical comedy. You’ll laugh a lot, and you’ll probably feel guilty about some of the laughs, unless you’re a sociopath. But a lot of them are just good fun!
- Origin story was told well. The movie flip-flops between past and present with obvious transitions that did not jar the narrative flow. In fact, I think choosing to tell the story non-linearly was a great move especially given that Deadpool himself is our narrator and his mind moves as quickly as his swords. We get the great origin story and get to see the suit immediately.
- The supporting characters are handled well. Weasel holds his own as a character with T.J. Miller’s signature brand of comedy and gives us the origin of the Deadpool moniker. Blind Al and her relationship with Wilson makes sense and makes me want to see more (no pun intended). I think more could have been done to the connection between Colossus (who feels like a big jab at Green Lantern showing that a CGI character can work) and Deadpool than the implication that they’d discussed Wade’s joining the X-Men before, but the dynamic amongst that trio including Negasonic Teenage Warhead (who they completely revamped for this movie in a good way) is fantastic and it was fun watching the two X-Men go from policing Deadpool to having his back.
- Deadpool is an anti-hero. You see him make selfish decisions. You see him make selfless decisions. You see him play nice with the good guys. You see him do things that the good guys definitely frown upon. In no moment is his antihero quality on display more perfectly than when he’s got his nemesis, Ajax, in his hands and Colossus intervenes. Perfect depiction, perfect ending.
- They have fun with Deadpool’s powers. From the obvious consequences of punching Colossus bare-fisted to exploring the speed and process of his regeneration when it comes to lost limbs, the movie uses his powers as a medium for more of Deadpool’s trademark comedy. But they also do a great job of showcasing how hard it is to slow down, significantly harm, or even kill the guy. At one point he’s got a combat knife wedged into his skull and is hardly any worse for the wear.
- The violence, while significant, is not too much. Deadpool definitely comes by its R rating honestly. It is not a movie for minors. Nudity and language aside, the violence element was actually well managed. It was never in your face and gratuitous; instead you saw what you would expect to see when an accomplished combatant utilizes guns and swords in the melee and Deadpool kills a lot of people in this movie.
So here’s my final verdict. Assuming you’re at least of the legal age to watch this R-rated offering, and have an open mind about murders of revenge, hired hitmen, torture, and strippers, watch it. If you are like me, you will watch it multiple times then add it to your Blu-ray collection that stays out of the reach of your children’s fingers. All in all, as a stand-alone, origin story of a controversial but extremely popular character, they knocked this out of the park and it should be counted as one of the best of an ever growing list of great Marvel movies. I for one can’t wait to see Deadpool’s next adventure.