I have never been a fan or an advocate of superhero films; the Marvel and DC universes have just never pulled me in like they have millions of other cinema-goers. Actually, I can count on one hand which superhero films I appreciate every now and then: Batman: The Dark Knight, Guardians of the Galaxy, Kickass and Deadpool = 4 / 1,000+
I was skeptical at first because it’s another film flung onto the pile of generic masculine movies about characters with extraordinary powers. I would be guaranteed tedious action, a sexy love interest and colourful cinematography to give anyone watching a noisy headache.
After being told that Deadpool is nothing like the rest of the superhero genre, and is cleverly made, I borrowed the Blu Ray and watched it alone purely because I didn’t want to feel pressured to laugh at the hysterical moments or to pretend I wasn’t yawning during the fight scenes.
The film definitely held my interest throughout as I don’t think I was expecting it to be so self-referential and post-modern. It got to the point where the breaking of the fourth wall was actually cringey because it was so frequent and obvious, but definitely in a good way. Deadpool continually draws attention to the fact that he’s talking to you even though he’s in a movie, and he seems to find this amazing at every point.
My attention was caught right from the beginning, as I was tucking into my dinner of fish pie and caught a glimpse of the playful opening credits. “Some Douchebag’s Film”, “Directed by an Overpaid Tool” and “Written by The Real Heroes Here” (the last one made me laugh out loud) are just a few examples of the incredible ‘honesty’ that suggests the tone of the rest of the movie. Clearly, this was not going to be something that I had seen before, and to be honest I was excited by the idea that this film might be made with people like me in mind. It addressed the superhero formular so accurately in the first few minutes that I figured it would be infinitely more entertaining for me than The Avengers or Spiderman.
Deadpool is interesting in that it tackles the trauma of being diagnosed with cancer, and how a person might deal with that. When given a seemingly too-good-to-be-true opportunity to eliminate the cancer and develop special abilities, he considers his options and then jumps at it. In a horrifying scene akin to something you might find in Saw, within the ‘medical’ facility, Wade Wilson effectively becomes the ‘hero’ that we know as Deadpool. Physically scarred by the torturous treatment all over his body, he is subjected to mocking and degenerative comments from the public, and feels that he can never see his fiancee again, ultimately leaving her to believe that he is dead. It is when she is taken by his nemesis Ajax, that he is determined to save her, regardless of what she might think of his appearance.
As for the casting, Ryan Reynolds is a delight. But we all knew that anyway. He has a sense of humour that is comparable to none and a way of delivering that humour so that he really tickles his audience. I first fell in love with him when watching The Proposal with Sandra Bullock, his intense comedy incessant from the beginning and throughout. He has expressed how involved he has been with the production, having tried to get it off the ground for around 10 years, and it’s obvious that he’s in his element while he’s playing the character.
We are subjected to hundreds of references to movie culture and other superhero films, most of which I probably didn’t understand because I just don’t watch them, but nonetheless it’s clever. The movie breaks the fourth wall several times and Deadpool even references Ryan Reynolds on occassion, completely drawing us out of the fictional universe, and seemingly making us feel like we’re almost watching a documentary at times.
All jokes and clever references aside, it is still a movie about an ordinary man with extraordinary powers. I feel that if the jokes were taken out and the comedy completely removed, the plot would come across as quite weak and disposable. To me, a large part of the film hangs on the fact that it is self-referential and seen as ‘taking the piss’. I grew tired at the end, when there was the ultimate battle – scenes like that have never inspired or appealed to me, with the resounding exception of The Lord of the Rings.
The love of Wade’s life is a strong woman initially, but contributes very little to the story, other than her kidnapping being what makes Deadpool find Francis (Ajax). She gets a little kick-ass towards the end of the fight, but other than that she serves a minor purpose. It’s also fair to point out that the film does not pass The Bechdel Test despite featuring strong and pro-feminist women. Sure, there are no weak female characters but I didn’t recognise any of them driving the plot forward.
I actually really enjoyed this movie, it held my attention pretty steadfast, but its saving grace is definitely Ryan Reynolds. I really laughed at the humour and as a film student, related to it a lot – it was interesting and different to anything I’d seen before. Other than the comedy though, I thought the story was pretty half-hearted but I would definitely watch it again.