Deadpool is a Welcome Shot in the Arm (and the Head) of the Superhero Genre

In a world were there are now superheroes at every turn and the movie release schedule is inundated with origin stories, reboots, team-ups, and the like, a film like Deadpool is a welcome change of pace and exactly the breath of fresh air that the comic book genre needs right now.

What sets this movie apart from every other superhero thing in the word these days is the uniqueness of it. First and foremost, in a market where superheros and comic books dominate the box office at every turn (with that horrible post-Mexican food skid mark of a movie Fant4stic being the exception to the rule), Deadpool was an underdog from the outset. The film lingered in development hell for more than a decade, trying again and again to get greenlit, going through multiple directors, and battling rumors floating around in 2011 that 20th Century Fox had actually cancelled the whole deal. Then, it just so happens that the test footage created by Blur Studio and featuring Ryan Reynolds in the role “leaked” one fateful Comic-Con in 2014. Fans immidiately fell in love with the over-the-top-violent, fourth-wall-breaking, comic-faithful shenanigans in the footage. The reaction was so positive, that it could be argued that the fans alone are responsible for the movie finally getting a schedule.

Next, the movie went the road less traveled by aiming for a “Hard R” rating, a move often deemed box office suicide for a movie with any kind of budget. Many also questions the merits of an R-rated superhero film in a genre that everyone apparently thought was solely for children. Could superheroes even “work” under an R rating? To the credit of those detractors, Spider-Man or Captain America as characters probably couldn’t work as an R-rated film. But Deadpool as a character absolutely could. And oh boy, did he!

Most of this movie hinges on Ryan Reynolds absolutely owning this role front to back. He loves this character, he believes in him, and you can tell he’s having a blast portraying Wade Wilson/Deadpool (Oops. Spoiler Alert: Wade Wilson is Deadpool). The rest of the film’s success owes to a full-frontal commitment to the concept. The people making this movie are 100% all-in, and it shows. There’s not a moment where it feels like the film is ashamed of itself, like certain previously-alluded-to Mexican food skidmarks are. Pulling off an ultra-violent, ultra-funny, ultra-meta movie is difficult enough as it is, but pulling it off well is even more of an accomplishment. Yet this flick knocks the ball out of the park in every category, and that’s because it’s clear everyone on-board didn’t just enjoy this character, script, and approach, but they obsessed over it and believed it could and would succeed. That’s why it did. That’s why critics love it and that’s why fans are overwhelmingly satisfied with the rendition of one of the most fun comics you can read.

The most refreshing thing about this movie is that, despite the fact that it’s another origin story, it’s aware that it’s a superhero movie in a market over-saturated with superhero movies and isn’t afraid to hang a lampshade on it. Deadpool even cracks a a few jokes about it, much to the confusion and ire of other characters. It’s also really humorous and ironic to see Deadpool being Deadpool while juxtaposed against other X-Men heroes like Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead. It’s almost as if to say, “This guy reallyyy doesn’t belong in the world of superheroes.” And that’s absolutely true, and one of the big reasons Deadpool is so enjoyable. It’s different, literally for different’s sake for a change.

(SPOILER ALERT: Plot details follow in next paragraph)

Now, the movie isn’t perfect. For me, the third act fell a little flat. I know this has a lot to do with the studio suddenly slashing the budget at the last minute, but looking at the movie as a pure film, it still sticks out. In a feature where everything is zany and outrageous, the battle at the end doesn’t do anything to raise the stakes. I’m also a bit disappointed that they went for the ol’ “hero needs to rescue the girl” thing from every other movie ever. In a movie like Deadpool, where the entire premise is that this isn’t the everyday superhero romp you’ve grown used to, they do a disservice to themselves and the rest of the film by giving us a finale that is the very same thing that every other superhero movie does, in exactly the same way it’s always done. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not bad by any stretch. But Deadpool deserved something, anything, different. Rather than continue to ride the wave of the rest of the movie and set up something truly out-of-left-field, it feels like they settled, and the ending doesn’t have the thrust it needed after riding so high the rest of the time.

All in all, Deadpool rocks. It shows that you can do a self-mocking movie without being self-loathing. It’s truly different and stands out among the ever-swelling sea of comic book media surrounding us, and it’s different enough that even the weak points are elevated by association. It’s fun, funny, and sets one hell of a precedent. And if anything, it’s shown that you can do an R-rated superhero movie and still be successful. Early indications are that Fox execs are taking notice and adjusting accordingly. To that end though, the bar’s been set. Good luck getting over it.

Deadpool rating: 4.5/5 Chimichangas

 

(Photo Credits: 20th Century Fox)

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