‘I’ ON CULTURE
Deadpool is an X-Men movie with a difference. As the lead character says, “I may be super, but I’m no hero.” That basically sums it up, and also helps define one of the problems with most superhero films: the good guys are always so super-clean and the villains are so evil that it does get a bit boring. The villains are going to destroy a city or a world or the universe if not stopped. This film does it differently.
Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is a mercenary who spends most of his time warning off stalkers of young women and generally hanging out at Sister Margaret’s Home for Wayward Girls, a dive run by his friend Weasel (T.J. Miller). While there, he meets gorgeous Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), who is just about as nuts as he is. They define love as having the edges of their craziness matching. Then he finds out that he is in the final stages of cancer.
He is recruited by a mysterious organization that claims it can cure him, but the leading specialist Ajax, whose real name is Francis (Ed Skrein) not only cures him but a) brings out superpowers including really fast healing, and b) scars his face horribly. Wilson, giving up on his girlfriend because of his looks, spends the rest of the movie chasing the bad guy who has told him he could fix the scarring. Of course, the villain goes after the girlfriend, forcing them together for the expected big battle scene.
Wilson, who chooses his new name from the dead pool, a betting system on life expectancy among his friends, is not your typical hero. He is foul-mouthed. His lines sound like they were written by a group of eighth-grade boys. This is definitely not a movie for kids. Besides the cursing, there are body parts flying around and lots of blood, although the violence is definitely of the comic-book variety.
A couple of X-Men do appear: Colossus (a CGI metal man looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger with a Russian accent, voiced by Stefan Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand). Deadpool in a voiceover mocks the fact that the producers were unwilling to pay for more of them.
This demonstrates another difference between this film and the regular X-Men franchise. Deadpool breaks the “fourth wall,” the line between audience and actors, by regularly commenting to the audience, usually complaints about not only the action, but the whole production. At one point, he puts some chewing gum on the camera lens. Much of it is filthy, but also funny. When Colossus starts dragging him to meet Professor Xavier, Deadpool asks, “McEvoy or Stewart?” — referring to the two different actors who have played that role. It should be annoying, but it is also funny.
Having an antihero does provide an interesting counterpoint. Deadpool has always been the outsider in this particular universe. He does not spend time rescuing babies or saving folks. His aims, particularly for the story in this film, are very simple. He is much more like the rest of us than the typical superhero. There is a charming scene where after a major battle he is sitting on top of the villain who he has been fighting with a gun to the man’s head while Colossus talks about the honor of heroes; how it is vital to not only be strong but to show mercy. Deadpool nods in agreement and then does the smart thing.
I enjoyed the movie far more than I expected. Reynolds, who is not the most reliable performer, really got under Deadpool’s skin. He does snark very well, and the character is filled with that. Baccarin is so strong as a character that you want to see her do even more. She is able to play the comedy well but also handle the action scenes. T.J. Wilson is very funny as the sidekick.
Is it worth seeing? Yes. It manages to be both funny and entertaining while remaining in the genre. While it will never be considered a great film, it is a lot of fun.