As someone who grew up reading comic books as a kid, I had a deep appreciation for not only storytelling, but for great characterization. Although I found some characters incredibly one-sided, one-dimensional, and filled with cliché, superheroes were noble beings with a semblance of justice. Then there’s Deadpool. Read his own words:
“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. But some of the best love stories start with a murder. And that’s exactly what this is, a love story. And to tell it right… I gotta take you back to long before I squeezed this ass into red spandex.”
Be prepared for an unusual opening when you watch this – it was very unexpected but in the spirit of the comic book series that is largely entertaining. And the pop culture references fly in the face of cinematic brilliance but not at the expense of digging current actors and musical references. Even Ryan Reynolds takes hits at himself and the dismal Green Lantern. In-jokes abound. There’s a reason it’s rated R: it’s raunchy, racy, revolting, revolutionary, and most of all, rip-roaring fun for adults with a sordid and twisted sense of humor. My kind of movie.
There is nothing more lovingly obnoxious, odious, down-to-earth and anti-hero as Deadpool. And for good reason: superheroes get boring with the same old, same old, but it’s not “canon” if you can’t inject some incremental humanity and darkness in a superhero. But what humor is lacking in Superman, Batman, and others, Deadpool is breathtakingly honest, upfront, and funny as hell when our “hero,” Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds), is diagnosed with cancer after he falls head over heels in love with Vanessa (aka Copycat), a stripper, played with superb charm by Morena Baccarin (Homeland, Gotham). Starting out as a hired mercenary, he falls for Vanessa. After numerous sexual romps they share over the year and popping the question to her one holiday, Wade collapses and he is rushed to the hospital (which we never see) but in a consult with a doctor later in her office, he is told about his cancer and that it’s untreatable. But Vanessa isn’t deterred – which further cements his love for her.
The film never takes itself seriously, insisting that our narrator, Deadpool himself, says that it’s a love story, not a superhero film. Surprisingly, the refreshing take on our titular anti-hero becomes engrossing as we are led by Wade Wilson into his version of events that creates the character we’ve all come to know and love. The fourth wall breaks in parts of the film do not even touch our suspension of disbelief as he seems to care about what he shows us. Apart from jerking off to a cute stuffed tiny unicorn in one scene which he apologizes for, we are taken for a thrill ride and a mind fuck of epic proportions after Ajax, the young British scientist who tortures and disfigures Wilson by making him believe he could fix his disfigurement. Portrayed by actor Ed Skrein (The Transporter Refueled, Game of Thrones), we’re shown that Ajax (aka Francis Freeman) treats Wade Wilson with a green genetic mutant Gatorade as a “last resort” effort to cure his cancer. When it cures Wilson’s cancer, it also disfigures his face and body.
After a fire takes out the building where he and other people were being turned into mutants by torture, Wilson retreats to the streets and finds himself alone and fighting back, looking for the elusive Ajax in costumes he makes himself – trying to find a balance that fits. It is an unlikely ally, an old blind woman, Blind Al, portrayed with foul-mouthed, IKEA loving, matter-of-fact nature by stage, TV and film icon Leslie Uggams (Roots, Hallelujah Baby!) who become roommates. She becomes the one to suggest Wilson make his costume blood red.
This is truly a feast for the eyes of any action film viewer. Director Tim Miller (an Academy Award nominee for the animated short film Gopher Broke) makes his directing debut big-time but he is very candid about how Deadpool could have been better in one aspect:
“It feels like a small movie to me, and I feel like I could have done a much better job of getting us out there and adding some scope. I don’t think I did a good job with establishing shots and scope and making it feel like a bigger world. It feels like a small indie movie, and some of that works well, but some of it I think I could have done a better job of making this feel like a world a little more.” (Collider.com)
Miller has a point. But since this is only an off-shoot of The X-Men franchise, I can see how he wanted to develop the world a bit more. It’s only more than glossed that the film is set in The X-Men universe where we deal with mutants but the fact that only two X-Men are helping Deadpool, Colossus, a pure CGI character voiced by Stefan Kapicic (24, The Event), a last minute replacement for Andre Tricoteux in the role. As for the original Colossus in the three X-Men films, Daniel Cudmore, he was approached by Miller but turned down the role. The little controversy that followed by Cudmore on Twitter was curious, but not entirely unexpected:
I did get a call for Colossus but it was CGI/stunts and not using my voice so I graciously passed. Love 2 play him in the future as an actor— daniel cudmore (@danielcudmore) August 5, 2015
Was Cudmore snubbed from the film? Who really knows? But Tim Miller had this to say about returning to the Colossus we had seen in previous X-Men movies:
“We were never going to be able to keep Colossus as a secret. He was in the script that leaked and all that. I wasn’t actually sure, until we were standing there shooting it, that at some point Fox was going to say, ‘Hold on a second; we can’t put Colossus from our treasured X-Men franchise in this movie to be made fun of!’ But they did, and not only that, but also they let me change the look of him. As a fanboy I’ve always been like, ‘That dude with the shiny skin is not fucking Colossus.’ He should be this monstrous guy, and they actually let me make him seven-and-a-half feet tall.” (Empireonline.com)
As for the other character helping, Negasonic Teenage Warhead, played by Brianna Hildebrand (First Girl I Loved, Annie Undocumented), we’re given a goth-like girl with a flippant and sarcastic attitude which works well against Colossus’s straight man sensibilities of graciousness and honor. NTW becomes Deadpool’s comic foil as his ascerbic wit is matched tit for tat.
And speaking of tits, it was a laugh out loud moment as the bad girl, Christina, aka Angel Dust, played with style and strong stoic grace by MMA fighter Gina Carrano, had a wardrobe malfunction while fighting Colossus. She looked and acted embarassed as Colossus pointed out (and turned his head away) while she gently put her breast back in her top while saying “Aww… that’s SO sweet!” before resuming to kick his ass. Angel Dust, who possesses superior strength as Colossus, had wonderful moments of pure and unadulterated ass-whooping.
The minutiae of moments that are visually stunning to this reviewer are the highway battle scenes and gunplay, leading up to Deadpool finding Ajax at a penultimate climax that brings down an old supercarrier docked at a port. With Vanessa taken as a hostage for leverage, Ajax and Deadpool have it out. NTW and Colossus take out the bad guys while Deadpool rescues his love and giving us an unexpected ending to Ajax that is quite logical and true to Deadpool.
The film is now available on VoD, Blu-Ray and DVD and wherever movies are sold. Get your copy and stay tuned for some sequel info!