With three blockbuster superhero movies released in 2015 and six slated for release in 2016, even the most diehard fans might begin to suffer from “superhero fatigue.”
“Deadpool” separates itself from the pack by giving viewers a tradition-altering take on the superhero origin story.
Based on the Marvel comic character of the same name, the film follows the story of mercenary Wade Wilson. After a terminal cancer diagnosis, Wilson volunteers for an experiment to give him superhuman abilities.
The catch comes when Wilson finds out he will become a slave to his creators. He ultimately escapes with his powers, but is left physically deformed. Donning the name Deadpool, he hunts down Ajax, the scientist responsible for his deformities, believing that he’s the only one who can return him to normal.
Part of what makes Deadpool unique is his awareness of being fictional. Often breaking the sacred “fourth wall” by directly addressing the audience, he will go as far as to state what the viewers should be thinking during particular scenes. To the characters around him, Deadpool seems insane, seemingly speaking to no one. This allowed the writers a unique ability to poke fun at themselves and other movies, leaving nothing off-limits.
Writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick waste no time, opening the film with a brutally honest credit sequence set to “Angel of the Morning” by Juice Newton. The movie also pokes fun at Ryan Reynolds’ portrayal of Deadpool in the critically-condemned 2009 film “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.”
“It [was] the wrong version,” Reynolds said. “Deadpool [wasn’t] correct in it.”
Seven years later, Reynolds jumped at the chance to portray the Marvel character in Tim Miller’s first major film.
Miller wasted no time proving he could handle it, with an action-packed opening sequence in which Deadpool fights a group of villains in an SUV. The scene is fast, violent and raw, yet never disorients the viewer.
The grisly violence is not designed to put off viewers, having a slapstick-comedy feel, but with realistic consequences. The film plays out like a more violent episode of “Tom and Jerry,” embodying elements of humor through graphic scenes of gore.
Reese and Wernick continually quip at entertainment culture throughout the movie. The jokes are both raunchy and smartly written. Whether he is speaking to the audience or making subtle sneers that only diehard fans might understand, the film’s characters strike a balance between incorporating new viewers and satisfying fans of the comic.
Reynolds was a perfect fit to play Deadpool. It’s hard to tell where the character begins and the actor ends. Both are known for their witty senses of humor and for firing off one-liners.
Viewers can tell that Reynolds is emotionally invested in the film. From the serious scenes to the exaggerated action sequences, Reynolds is obviously having the time of his life. This translates into a complex, multi-dimensional character that any audience can empathize with.
Conservative viewers expecting a kid-friendly superhero tale should stay away, as vulgar humor and gratuitous violence are littered throughout the film. Those looking for a deep superhero plot, such as Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy, may be disappointed in the standard origin storyline.
A casual onlooker, however, may draw criticism to the film being relatively low budget and having an underwhelming cast. The villain is another weak spot in the film, portrayed as the traditional British villain whose only goal is to kill the hero.
That being said, the small scale, basic plot and stereotypical villain are some of the film’s biggest strengths. The film is aware of its weaknesses and jokes about its smaller budget and its place among superhero films. The villain is also the subject of many jokes, poking fun at the fact that he’s British, along with his name, Ajax, which even Deadpool said sounds “suspiciously made up.”
Even so, “Deadpool” is attracting quite the viewership as it set the record for the highest three-day box office revenue with $135 million.