Tony does the Deadpool dance.
There are movies that, once you’ve seen them, you know you’re going to watch again immediately. The movies you come out of wanting to join the line for the very next showing.
Deadpool is one of those movies.
Deadpool as a phenomenon has always been the very antithesis of the generations of masked, spandexed superheroes who came before him – sexy, even deviant, violent as all-get-out, but loveably nerdy and sarcastically foul-mouthed as the day is long. It was characteristics like this that turned a lot of proto-geeks into hardcore comic-book fans at a time when the only way seemed to be down into a darker and more grittily realistic, sombre tone.
Deadpool – while delivering plenty of grit and realism – gave a hearty single-finger salute to all the seriousness and boy-scoutery of such heroes, and because of that, the chances of doing a Deadpool movie wrong are extremely high. And so are the potential consequences. More than any nth-generation Batman or Superman movie, more than any third modern Spiderman incarnation, if you fuck up a Deadpool movie, you can probably expect flaming bags of supervillain-shit through your door in perpetuity from fans who feel you’ve destroyed something precious.
Ladies and gentlemen, let’s hear it for Mr Ryaaaaaaan Reyyyyynolds!
Ahem. Yes, the guy who was Green Lantern.
Yes, really, they let him anchor a comic-book movie again. Yes, really, one as important as this.
Here’s the thing, though – sometimes, you know you’re destined to play a superhero. You just need the right time, the right production values, the right script and above all, the right freakin’ hero to come along. Who would have guessed that Ryan Reynolds was born to play the merc with a mouth? Not this geek, certainly, but on screen it’s utterly sublime.
But wait, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Deadpool’s sublime before Reynolds even gets to use that mouth. The titles of any movie are supposed to set the tone, get you in the mood for what’s to come. Rarely in movie history – certainly in superhero movie history – has that worked as well as it does on Deadpool. I so badly want to spoiler the titles for you, it’s an ache in my special place, but I won’t. Just trust me when I tell you, they’re titles written by Deadpool. Book your tickets now.
Technically, yes, this is a Deadpool origin movie, but writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick and director Tim Miller haven’t just given us an origin movie – to be fair, just doing that would have been to fail utterly as far as Deadpool’s concerned. There’s a theory (popularly put about by geek and comedian Mitch Benn) that says that David Bowie always had to do much more than any other artist with each album he released. Sure, he had to sell multi-platinum shedloads, and sure, there had to be some radio-friendly tracks, but to be a successful David Bowie album, it also had to experiment with form and advance the very business of music-making. Deadpool is the David Bowie of comic-book heroes. You can’t just make a successful origin movie through which people chew bucketloads of popcorn. You have to do that, you have to make almost every line in the thing zing and crackle with wit, you have to deliver some absolutely kickass and fairly trademark-style fights, and you have to challenge the conventions of linear storytelling. You’re looking at the kind of superhero movie Tarantino would make if you want to get anywhere close to making a kickass Deadpool movie.
I’m here to tell you that between them, Reese, Wernick, Miller, Reynolds and the rest of the cast have not only come close to making a kickass Deadpool movie. They’ve made a kickass Deadpool movie, of the kind you’ll want your movie theatre to fit revolving doors for, so you never have to actually leave.
There’s some temporal toing and froing, so the story’s not linear, but it is told in a way that makes perfect sense. There are some classic Deadpool moments, faces, lines and fighting moves – an early favourite, in a massive set-piece fight which stylistically counts down the number of bullets Deadpool has left, in an almost fake-Western style, involves “Bad Deadpool” as the hero pouts about having missed a shot. Immediately, another villain comes into frame, Deadpool shoots him stone dead, declares himself “Good Deadpool” and shimmies off to take care of some more bad guys. The point is that this is a movie with a huge burden of tone to deliver, and it knocks that tone right the hell out of the park.
The story of how Deadpool becomes Deadpool is straightforward enough, but it deliciously places him, as the comic-books did, in the same corner of the Marvel universe as the X-Men, and teams him up occasionally with two of their number – Colossus and the X-Emo, Negasonic Teenage Warhead. Given the X-Men movies’ unending capacity to take themselves apocalyptically seriously, it’s insanely refreshing to get Deadpool’s take on the ‘boy band’ with the ‘exploding house,’ and it introduces a faithful representation of his outsider vibe towards Professor X’s happy band.
Joyfully, Deadpool leaves no sacred cow untipped, no wall unbroken. There are a couple of gorgeous zingers at the real-world X-Men movies – when Colossus drags him away to see Professor X, Deadpool quips “McAvoy or Stewart, these timelines are so confusing.” When he turns up at their house, he mutters “Big house. Strange I only ever run into the two of you. It’s like the studio couldn’t afford an additional X-Man…”
That’s the territory we’re in throughout the whole movie – even to the extent of Wade Wilson, the Merc behind the Deadpool mask, asking “What, you think Ryan Reynolds got this far on the basis of his superior acting technique?” and begging that his superhero suit “not be green. Or animated!”
There’s superb support work done all down the cast list on this movie too – enormous props for Morena Baccarin, turning in another in a long line of geek-friendly roles as Vanessa, the woman whose “crazy matches my crazy” for Wilson. If, like me, you’re relatively new to her work, it’s a refreshing, not to say occasionally eye-popping change to see the contrast between Dr Thompkins in Gotham and her character as Vanessa. Time to finally dig out the Stargate and Firefly DVDs, clearly, and get to grips with more of Baccarin’s work. The arch-villain (a Brit, quelle sur-freakin’-prise), Francis, is an odd character, given more than enough sadistic menace by Ed Skrein, even if his character ultimately raises more questions than it answers, including who had his mutant laboratory before him and how he himself came by not only the lab but the expertise to use it, as one of its former patients. Gina Cararo’s Angel, the super-strong female mutant, is sufficiently enigmatic and menacing, even if she disappears at the end of the movie with no mention of what happens to her. Leslie Uggams as Al, Wade’s blind old roommate, is superbly grumpy, and TJ Miller’s Weasel, Wade’s best friend, is that combination of supportive and “Dude, what the fuck?” realistic that helps anchor both the friendship and the movie in a sense of reliable believability.
More than anything though, this is a movie that revels in writing, does the backstroke through a tone of unimpeachable foul-mouthed sarcastic badassery, and – not without making him acknowledge and atone for his past crimes against the superhero genre – brings Ryan Reynolds in from the cold of deep space, to a funny-as-hell world where he’s determined not to make the same mistakes a second time. Between them the writers, the director and Reynolds in front of the camera own this movie, and make sword-wielding, bird-flipping, ass-kicking fists of delivering one of the comic-book world’s hardest prospects.
Go see Deadpool now. Then go see it again. Then have a nap. Maybe grab some chimichangas and a couple of shots.
Then go see Deadpool again. If you love superhero movies, you’ll laugh your ever-loving ass off. The weird thing is that if you hate superhero movies, there’s every chance you’ll laugh your ass off too. Any movie that can please both audiences equally is a thing of rare and wonderful audacity, and in a world of Captain America and Ant-Man movies, and with X-Men Apocalypse looming (and I do mean loooooooming) on the horizon, we need more things like that in our geek lives.
Tony Fyler lives in a cave of wall-to-wall DVDs and Blu-Rays somewhere fairly
nondescript in Wales, and never goes out to meet the "Real People". Who,
Torchwood, Sherlock, Blake, Treks, Star Wars, obscure stuff from the
70s and 80s and comedy from the dawn of time mean he never has to. By
runs an editing house, largely as an
excuse not to have to work for a living. He's currently writing a Book.
With Pages and everything. Follow his progress at FylerWrites.co.uk