Editor’s Note: Deadpool opens this Friday, February 12.
Nobody’s trying to stop the end of the world in Deadpool. The third act doesn’t require its protagonists to fight off hoards of aliens or robots. The main character constantly points out that he isn’t a hero, and by the end of the movie he still isn’t any closer to being one. There’s the obligatory Stan Lee cameo, but it is unlike any cameo he’s ever done. Deadpool is unlike any other comic book movie ever put to the silver screen, and the film is better off because of it.
At almost a week into February, Deadpool marked my first major 2016 new release. This isn’t abnormal or shocking, as the early months of the year rarely offer anything of redeeming value. I almost skipped my screening entirely, but I’m glad I didn’t since Deadpool ended up one of the most entertaining moviegoing experiences I’ve had in quite some time.
All of my expectations and doubts had been pulverized by the end of the film’s first act. Ryan Reynolds will get a lot of credit for the film’s success, as well he should. But the best performance in Deadpool comes from people not shown on screen. Reynolds is at his best when he’s unforgivingly abrasive and sardonic, and screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick provided him with an arsenal of crudities and sarcastic quips, each as hilarious as the last. But the film doesn’t settle for only executing great jokes. Reese and Wernick imbue Reynolds’ Wade Wilson with a surprising amount of humanity in a script that is deceptively simple in terms of scope and plot.
Wade is a broken man with a dark past who falls in love with someone just as broken as he is. One day he wakes up to find his body riddled with cancer, and he agrees to participate in a study that might help him. “Promise me that you’ll do right by me so I can do right by someone else,” he says. Things go wrong, Wade adopts his alter ego, and spends every waking moment tracking down the people who screwed him over.
The stakes couldn’t be any lower, but they couldn’t be more personal either. Deadpool works so well because it actually makes us care about the characters and what they want to accomplish. Ryan Reynolds and Morena Baccarin share electric chemistry, with their characters standing confidently alongside other classic superhero couples like Peter Parker and Mary Jane or Tony Stark and Pepper Potts. What makes them so special is that we actually understand why they are drawn to each other, which runs circles around love stories in films like Thor and Man of Steel. Not to mention that we are given a sex montage that is equal parts hilarious, heart-warming and progressive.
Reynolds is so much fun to watch here, delivering all of his lines with childlike glee. Ed Skrein’s Ajax makes for a great villain, one who has no desire to destroy the world. He just wants to make a buck. Supporting characters like Brianna Hildebrand as Negasonic Teenage Warhead and Stefan Kapicic’s all-CGI Colossus are fun additions to the mix. Colossus works better as a foil for Deadpool that Ajax, since Colossus’ constant attempts to do the “right” thing and convert Deadpool into a hero clash with everything we love about Wade’s character in the first place.
It’s amazing that Fox allowed this movie to be made, especially when you look at the near-micromanaging level of say they have had on previous productions like Fantastic Four and the X-Men movies. In a world where tales about studio interference on big-budget films are commonplace, it’s refreshing and thrilling to see a studio step back and let a first-time director tell the story he wants to tell. Director Tim Miller brings a unique, colorful and energetic feel to the film, staging highly entertaining and expertly choreographed action scenes. Everything just clicks. Wade Wilson finally has his own movie, and it’s astounding how great it is. Deadpool laughs in the face of anything we have come to expect from comic book movies, and its unorthodox approach to its well-loved source material is exactly the shakeup that the genre needs right now.
Deadpool works so well because it actually makes us care about the characters and what they want to accomplish. Wade Wilson finally has his own movie, and it’s astounding how great it is. Deadpool laughs in the face of anything we have come to expect from comic book movies, and its unorthodox approach to its well-loved source material is exactly the shakeup that the genre needs right now.