One of the reasons Deadpool is destined to be a success is because of its marketing. I wrote a piece about it here, and in that I said that Fox decided to sell the movie as comedy first and a superhero film second. This was an immensely smart move because Deadpool isn’t much of a superhero movie, but it is a pretty successful little bit of juvenile comedy.
Even the structure of the film plays around with convention. The movie kicks off in the middle of an action scene and cuts back and forth between the ongoing super shenanigans and the origins of Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) and the love of his life, Vanessa (Morena Baccarin). It’s a nice bit of pacing that feels fresh considering the strictly linear nature of so many mainstream superhero flicks.
And that is a lot of the appeal that Deadpool has to bring to the table: it doesn’t taste like all the other ice cream in the shop. This has everything to do with Ryan Reynolds’ portrayal and sense of humor; you can tell Reynolds is utterly invested in this. He really makes Wade Wilson the most lovable of insane assholes. It’s also nice that he gets to show snippets of his darker side (PSA: go watch The Voices) even through all of the low-brow and meta humor.
I will say that Deadpool does have an overall sense of “trying too hard” when it comes to being funny. The film is overflowing with jokes, gags, and inside humor. A lot of it went completely over the head of my audience (including the opening credits bit, which proves that no one reads credits), but it’s more hits than misses.
The big miss here is in the villains. As far as motivations go, they are so boilerplate that I didn’t mind getting up to go to the bathroom during their torture montage because I knew I wouldn’t miss anything. Even though this is a Fox production, they seem to be taking a page from Marvel Studios’ book when it comes to lame baddies. There’s only one good thing to come out of the villains and that’s Deadpool’s constant use of main antagonist Ajax’s (Ed Skrein) real name. Other than that, the baddies — especially Gina Carano’s Angel Dust — are mostly filler.
I’m also a little torn when it comes to Vanessa. There’s not quite the refutation of the “damsel in distress” trope that I was expecting, and she’s written to be such a perfect nerd ideal that it comes off as too easy. Baccarin makes it all work though — it helps when you’re talented and gorgeous — but it would have been really nice to see her be the one who saved the day at the end, pulling the rug out from under Deadpool in his own movie.
Still, there’s a lot to like about Deadpool There’s way too many laughs and fun pop culture references to count (let’s get to quoting them in the comments. My current favorite is Deadpool labeling Brianna Hildebrand’s Negasonic Teenage Warhead as Ripley from Alien 3) and there’s genuine passion behind the people involved that does radiate off the screen. I do hope it opens the door to even more R-rated superhero fare, and Deadpool is certainly a strong foundation for that to build on. It’s certainly going to be grating for some (one guy at my screening adamantly called it “the worst superhero movie”), but it’s a light enough movie not worth getting worked up about.