It’s been a while since I’ve written a film review attributed to my column, A Case For Better Action movies. That said, seeing as how Marvel property Deadpool is finally getting its just dues on the big screen, the case couldn’t be more relevant than it is now after twelve years of developing, pushing and pitching, scratching and clawing our way through PG-13 Hollywood red tape.
Essentially, the film is a direct result of what happens when major studios get out of their own way; We’ve been living in an era where the supposed narrative is that toning down the violence in any major tentpole action film will still reap benefits through a PG-13 audience so parents wouldn’t necessarily have to help little kids petition to enjoy the same feats. That may have been true from time to time, but it’s not written in stone either seeing as how Deadpool has become a weekend opening box office hit surpassing records set by more than several Marvel and DC properties in the last eleven years.
The success here also goes to director Tim Miller who had all but HALF a studio budget to work with to help make it all happen along with his experience in VFX artistry from Blur Studios, on top of a winning script by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick that plays out like an epic saga full of classic love songs, tank loads of fourth wall-breaking toilet humor, raunchy sex and gratuitous violence, with an opening credits sequence worth more money than gold.
Actor Ryan Reynolds, who played a less-than-favorable version in 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, campaigned heavily for an R-rated package himself. It’s a performance he clearly hinted at in his previous role in David Goyer’s 2004 clusterfuck known as Blade: Trinity, and I’m far from alone in the opinion that this was a role that Reynolds himself was born for. His performance as former soldier Wade Wilson lends us a sexually ambiguous, unmitigated, promiscuous and heavily flawed anti-hero whose own imperfections and humanity are relatively equal in some capacity to that of supporting characters played by Morena Baccarin, T.J. Storm and Leslie Uggams. Actor Ed Skrein is finally given his just dues in an action role as Marvel villain, Ajax next to MMA starlet and actress Gina Carano in the role of Angel Dust, setting up the odds perfectly for our hero as the film progresses.
We also get a somewhat rewarding X-Men presence with voice actor Stefan Kapcic voicing the motion-capture performances of Andre Tricoteux and T.J. Storm for Colossus next to actress Brianna Hildebrand delivering her sardonic, deadpan wit and explosive screen presence as Negasonic Teenage Warhead; Together, they bring just the right amount of charm and upheaval to Deadpool‘s own agenda as he sets out to take down the very people who ruined his life.
The overall formula for the film gives us an origin tale that coincides with a story already in progress, and while a lot of mistakes could have been made here, our dear director Miller manages to successfully avoid all of this with no wrong turns or biting stumbles that break from the film’s progression. You get a movie that encompasses all you need to know from top-to-bottom with some of the most stylish and unhindered action sequences you’ll ever see in a Marvel film from Netflix Daredevil series stunt coordinator Philip Silvera and his team. Moreover, you get characters that grow on you with a script that doesn’t miss a beat, and ultimately, a Marvel movie with more heart than any Marvel film after Stephen Norrington’s 1998 iteration of Blade; sure, the current MCU is quite epic, but Deadpool easily conquers what it sets out to in achieving poignance when needed, even for a film that makes no apologies in its R-rated delivery.
Speaking of bad habits, it also bares mentioning that almost two years ago to date, we ended up with a watered down version of Robocop that hasn’t seen many hopes for a sequel since it failed to impress moviegoers at the box office. Paul Verohoeven’s original 1987 induction was an R rated spectacle next that is still remembered to this day while Sony is left kicking itself with a product that stands as one of dozens of properties that Hollywood has been willing to ignorantly gamble with while deviating from the very things that made films like it so great. Sure, Pete Travis’s R-rated Dredd reboot flopped in comparison, but that wasn’t due to poor critiquing and filmmaking, that was the result of shit marketing for a film that clearly deserved a bigger push and the audience support it so deserved.
With Deadpool, marketing helped significantly with Reynolds pushing as hard as he did after Green Lantern and nearly falling into B-movie obscurity. And thanks to fan fervor and the hard work of our cast and crew, we got the movie we deserved and wanted thus possibly renewing a precedent for R-rated comic book action movies. I wonder if this will finally pave the way for an R-rated Wolverine franchise…I think we’re ready for it.
Time will tell how other superhero movie properties will bode this year, but with Deadpool and its forthcoming sequel now greenlit, Marvel Studios and DC have their work cut out for them.
As Variety reporter Brent Lang writes, “…This is what redemption looks like.”
Sorry Matthew, but this one is ours. Stay in school, and see you in 2022.