X Men Origins: Wolverine made several well-documented mistakes. The failed prequel brought the X-Men franchise’s winning percentage down to .500 after a similarly disappointing end to the original trilogy. It used a magic bullet to explain Wolverine’s amnesia instead of the seemingly perfect excuse that was the Weapon X procedure. A CGI Professor Xavier can walk. Will.I.Am was teleporting around in a cowboy hat. But the worst sin the movie committed was ruining the character of Wade Wilson before he could even begin. After a decently Deadpool-ish introduction, the script proceeds to run itself full speed into the ground as they literally take the Merc with a Mouth and sew his mouth shut. Beating the dead horse of the X-verse’s low point is only necessary to stress just how much fan support was required in order to take a lesser known, cult classic superhero and bring him back to life. Much like the character himself, the Deadpool project pieced itself back together to become arguably the biggest R-rated commercial hit in movie history. As we dive into the biggest superhero movie year ever, by far, this is exactly the leadoff hitter we needed.
The hard truth is that making a good Deadpool movie is incredibly easy. Making a great Deadpool movie, however, is equally difficult. The writers could’ve just filled this project to the brim with hard language and cheeky lines from our masked antihero as he hammers away at the fourth wall. Abandoning subtlety must have been tempting when dealing with a character that is the furthest thing from subtle. And audiences would’ve cheered thinking “Oh, I get it! He knows he’s in a movie!” But the Deadpool team’s ability to pull back and use Wade Wilson’s crowd pleasers in moderation made each and every joke hit in just the right way. Of course those cheeky moments were there, but they’re perfect because the movie is given a shocking amount of balance. Ryan Reynolds made Deadpool into much more than Van Wilder with swords. There was plenty of sillier, physical comedy as bodies basically explode in Tarantino fashion. There was also an abundance of humor that was extremely clever. The soundtrack was perfect. The action was 100% Deadpool. And dare I say at times the movie was even, cute? Leave it to Kingsman and Deadpool to give us the best Valentine’s Day dates of the last two years. Maybe 50 Shades of Gray needed more murder.
Calling this movie self-aware or a brilliant satire is like calling Shawshank Redemption powerful. It’s true, but you’re not going to learn anything by hearing someone say that. Those compliments absolutely apply, just as they were expected to. I’m more impressed by the film’s ability to balance itself out so that we can fully appreciate each minute of what they’ve chosen to show us. I can imagine there’s roughly an encyclopedia of scrapped material for the script. Picking and choosing lines must have been a nightmare of a process. But the work paid off, and the fan favorite psychopath was finally done justice. I could very easily just list out ten or more quotable lines to demonstrate the almost indescribable humor Deadpool provides, but it’s best to just experience it for yourself. There isn’t a dull moment in the surprisingly short runtime, reminding us that you can give us a hero’s backstory/first adventure in less than two hours. The back and forth between Wade Wilson flashbacks and flash forward Deadpool action dodges both the predictable formula of an origin story and the equally played out script of your average shoot ‘em up.
Ryan Reynolds is simply the only person who could’ve played this role. Maybe not for his superior acting method, of course. His undying passion for the project was instrumental in the studio’s effort to make this thing happen, a passion that is hugely appreciated by the character’s equally passionate fans. I always say superhero actors should be fans, either before or after they’ve been given the roles. Even if you knew nothing beforehand, you better read up and build an appreciation for the person you’re trying to become. Several modern stars have been blessed with a second chance in the superhero genre, most of which are also huge fans. And it’s great to see them take full advantage of it. In many ways, this was a third chance for Reynolds, who can finally be defined by the role he was meant to play. The supporting cast falls in line perfectly, fitting the tone that he sets from the very first scene. Colossus and his stark contrast against Mr. Pool gives us my new favorite good-cop bad-cop routine in all of moviedom. Vanessa was the absolute perfect match, overcoming a damsel in distress situation to still give us a strong character that stands beside Wade Wilson. Beforehand, I wasn’t sold on the large romantic presence in a movie like this. But now I can’t see his life any other way. Even the opening credits fit the bill, erasing any doubts fans may have had before the first line of dialogue is even spoken.
Wondering where the X-Men were? So was Deadpool. Aside from providing two of the best meta-jokes in the movie, the super team’s presence was certainly felt in this peripheral story. I would love to see Deadpool surprise us with an appearance in Apocalypse, a movie that looks like it could use a dose of unpredictable fun. He could steal the show with limited time, the way we saw Quicksilver run away with Days of Future Past, without taking away from the main story. Granted, the part would have to be written in already, since Apocalypse is almost here. But FOX absolutely knew this was going to be a hit, and some foresight from them would be appreciated if they thought ahead and snuck him into this next installment. Before you worry about the obvious issue, I know that Deadpool’s very strong R rating would be inappropriate for the PG-13 X-movies. But Deadpool is the rare gem that can be aware of this and hit us with a running “watch my language” joke throughout his time in the upcoming film. Imagine this scenario, just to toss around some fake script ideas. Deadpool surprise enters the movie and makes a big deal of the one F-bomb he’s allowed in a PG-13 motion picture. Then, in a meaningless scene near the end of the movie, someone like Wolverine takes it from him by mumbling “the f*** is that” as he gets gum stuck on his shoe or something. It’s just one example of how no character is more adaptable that one who knows he’s in a movie.
I expected to thoroughly enjoy Deadpool, but I also expected to be spoon-fed one-liners and the more low-hanging fruit of available jokes. I can proudly say that Deadpool met and flew right by my expectations. It’s not just a fun movie; it’s a complete movie. Sure, we’ll now be drowned with R-rated superhero material. Hopefully everyone strives to find their own niche instead of just copying and pasting what worked here. Either way, Deadpool is a massive success, and 2016 is off to an exceptionally hot start.