Superhero movies have grown to be a standard expectation for every year’s movie calendar. These films have inherently become rejoiced by the masses, so, therefore, critics have become split upon them. Some believe they are far too immature, unemotional, and simplistically repetitive. Others think they are the new and improved westerns, rivetingly charming, and endlessly enjoyable. It divides critics between those who fancy the “Fantastic Woman” and “Faces Places” kind of films, and those who relish the “Thor: Ragnarok” and “Wonder Woman” sort of movies. I find myself on both sides of the fence, discovering inherent flaws with both styles of filmmaking, and things worth investing.
Few films can play on both sides of the fence as I do though, Tim Miller’s “Deadpool” seems to be one of those movies. Providing satirical dialogue on the dilemmas that the superhero movies inherently face, while delivering the same kind of basic style that makes the genre of spandexed men and women so successful. Unlike the comics though, “Deadpool” has a very straightforward and simplistic story.
The secret ingredient for the comic book degenerate usually has writers who will throw everything and the kitchen sink at the wall and hopes that something will land. It’s usually storylines like “Marvel: NOW” where Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) finds himself battling Zombie American Presidents, or “Deadpool Kills Deadpool” which gets more meta than you would think possible. Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) is a character that recognizes himself as a character; his comics are continually poking fun at the illogicality of superheroes and self-referencing things that may have been scrapped by the writers in the past. For god’s sake, there’s a comic called “Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe” in which after he kills all the heroes, he goes after the writers behind them.
In that frame of mind is where Tim Miller, Rhett Reese, and Paul Wernick excel and pivot this film into one of the comic book genres’ best and brightest. The story, as I said, is simple. It's a revenge plot with a hint of romance and a sprinkle of an origin story. Taking place in present day (I assume), the film opens with a fantastic opening title sequence that reference Honest Trailers style of titling and that embarks us into an entertaining introduction to the tone of humor we will receive, as Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) seems to be hitching a cab ride to his mission.
The film continues with that of an introduction to Ajax (Ed Skrein) who is selling weapons to some type of dictator most likely, and all of this is a bit in the moment. It’s not until halfway through the action scene where Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) narrates to the audience stating "You're probably thinking, 'My boyfriend said this was a superhero movie but that guy in the suit just turned that other guy into a fucking kabab!" Well, I may be super, but I'm no hero. And yeah, technically, this is a murder.'" From there, we’re given flashbacks to a saucy romance between Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) and Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) and background information as to how Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) arrived at this point in his life.
For a screenplay that includes flashbacks, cancer, and even predictable storytelling, it all feels so fresh. It’s the style of it all, I think. Tim Miller brings an indie filmmaking style to a film you’d expect to have a $150 to $200 million budget, but he made this on $58 million. His uses CGI only when necessary, like that of Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) jumping off a freeway so that he can take down an armed convoy. Before that is where Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick’s (“Zombieland”) excellent writing delivers its first home run of the night. Having Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) deliver his first fourth wall breaking lines of dialogue by stating: “I know right? You're probably thinking, "Whose balls did I have to fondle to get my very own movie"? I can't tell you his name, but it rhymes with "Polverine." (In an Australian accent) And let me tell you, he's got a nice pair of smooth criminals down under.”
These screenwriters deliver with jokes like this that are fired at a machine gun like pace. Firing on all cylinders, “Deadpool” can become even funnier on every rewatch. You begin to notice then in-between jokes that you couldn't hear on the first watch because you were laughing too hard. (Sidenote, I’ve never laughed so hard in a movie theatre before or since) Like that of Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) hushing underneath his breath, after he’s broken both of his hands trying to beat up Colossus (Stefan Kapicic), “all the dinosaurs feared the T-rex.” It’s less “Family Guy” and more “Rick and Morty” in which each joke is delivered with the perfect kind of tone from Ryan Reynolds, and every joke packs a more considerable punch than expected. It’s clever, genuinely funny, and consistently surprising.
The x-men are not overshadowed either, and neither are the ladies. There is a fair amount of female agency with characters like Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) being integral to the plot and equally as crazy as her lover. Even toying with female independence with a pegging scene during a sequence of saucy sex numbers that occur with a holiday reference of some kind like “Happy Chinese new year, year of the dog.” She’s not just sexy though, she’s as funny and screwed up as the Merc with the mouth. Even stabbing Ajax (Ed Skrein) at one point, she can handle herself quite well. If you don’t believe me, ask fat Gandalf.
The x-men themselves (whatever few there are; another self-referencing joke made by the regenerating degenerate) are given the perfect roles. Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) has the perfect kind of teenage girl quips. Her power is ridiculous as well, but Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) is handled even better. Given this goody tooshoo role that is continually trying to persuade Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) to become a hero, to spare an enemy, save a stranger, and make a friend. Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) will have none of it though; he’s the one guy who refuses to cave into the idea of letting psychopaths roam free.
The one character who hangs with these killers, but doesn’t seem like a madman is Weasel (T.J. Miller) whose comedy is the best it's ever been since his stand-up days. He and Lesslie Uggams (an older blind lady who is Deadpool’s roommate) are two fantastic side attractions that only enhance the main event. Miller balances all of these characters together with some well-handled action. Remaining in-camera and using as little CGI as possible. Utilizing every cent of that small budget, a heavily desired trait for any director to have.
Ryan Reynolds is to thank for this movie the most though; he’s exceptionally perfect at depicting this character. He once said “Ya, I love the character. I’ve always loved the character. I remember reading one of the Deadpool comic books, and somebody asked Deadpool what he looks like. And he said he looks like a cross between a Shar-Pei and Ryan Reynolds. And I was like, I really, really wanna play this guy at some point.” Reynolds has finally reached that point and is now about to return as the character with a sequel that seems to be even bigger and better than the first movie.
I can’t help but fall in love with “Deadpool,” it’s everything that isn’t a mainstream superhero movie while becoming a mainstream superhero movie. It’s a tightrope to walk, and Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) is dancing on it with grace, excitement, and endless enjoyability. I don’t need anything more from this movie; it’s the perfect burlesque of a superhero film that I never knew I wanted so much.