Some of the biggest blockbuster hits of the past decade have all had one major theme in common: superheroes. Disney’s purchase of Marvel Entertainment and the quick commercialization of Marvel’s various properties by Disney has been an integral part of this current iteration of film making. While the obvious Marvel properties, such as Captain America and the Avengers, have been popular at the box office, it is the success of works like The Guardians of the Galaxy, which has shown that works peripheral to the central Marvel Universe can thrive in a cinematic format. This is where Deadpool enters the picture. 20th Century Fox owns the film rights to the X-Men universe and has been attempting to develop a Deadpool film for the past decade. The studio fumbled the introduction of the character in his first film appearance in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. This current film faithfully follows the comic book origins of the Deadpool character. This film gives a unique spin to the classic high octane action film with a unique rendition of the typical hero origin story. With the eccentric narration of Deadpool himself, you enter this two-hour journey of gore and wise cracks.
The attractiveness of this film is its direct contrast with the rest of the superhero related films coming out of Hollywood. The tired tropes of moral heroes who abide by a strict moral code which includes no killing, cursing, or sex has been thrown out in this piece. Deadpool is a self described vigilante who doesn’t ascribe to something as rigid as a sense of moral duty. This is a critique of the commercialized and over exploited comic book genre from a unique comic book movie.
Once you eliminate the unique idiosyncrasies and aspects of this film, its fairly conventional in terms of its plot structure. Novice director Tim Miller tailors the entirety of this origin story to suit the strengths of Ryan Reynolds, who plays Deadpool. Reynolds is the livewire center piece of which the rest of the film builds upon. The arc of the plot follows the development of the Deadpool persona, whom Ryan Reynolds character assumes as his identity after a ‘live saving ‘procedure. In the mix are your standard fare of love interest dramas, nemesis conflicts, and proselytizing moral allies which each provides a different lense into the mindset of Marvel’s most layered character to date. Nevertheless, Reynolds performance aside, the plot remains true to a tested convention of the hero battling his nemesis. While the plot is a weak point, it is not a great weight on the overall product.
While the plot is fairly basic, the dialogue is the greatest strength of this enterprise. An extremely important aspect of this film and its dialogue is its meta awareness of itself as a film. Deadpool’s narration comically brings reference to the studio development of the film and its failed introduction of the character in the Wolverine film. Reynolds, as stated before, is at his finest in the film when he spits non-sequiturs, insults, and other allusions at both friends and foes alike.
The hesitance of the studio to invest major dollars in the film is evident in two aspects of the movie: the cast and special effects. T.J. Miller provides his usual brand of strong comic relief as he becomes even more a staple of the comedic film community. But after Miller, there is a questionable drop off in the quality of the cast. Between Deadpool’s girlfriend, Morena Baccarin, and his enemy, Ed Skrein, not to mention other members of the cast, there is little significant cinematic background. Though they muster enough ability to not be a negative part of the movie, one has to wonder how much better it could’ve been with more investment. The special effects deficiency is especially potent when the film is compared to other films of its genre. Clearly a genre outsider like Deadpool would garner more precaution by 20th Century Fox in investment, but when the special effects are of the same quality as films from ten years ago, then quality takes precedent over cost.
Deadpool is the outlier that the superhero genre needed. While Guardians of the Galaxy tested the limits of the relationship between financial success and the fringes of the published comic book world, Deadpool has given the superhero brand a fresh litmus test to push new limits and boundaries. At first glance, the film might appear to be nothing more than a fresh take on a tired brand, but it is groundbreaking work in that it breaks the mold of rigid moral protagonists and gives leeway for bloodshed, cursing, and sexual profligacy the likes of which Marvel had yet to release on the market. This is surely worth the investment of a ticket for Marvel fans and non-Marvel fans alike.
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