Two years after some exciting leaked footage and seven years after his first (albeit horribly retconned) big screen appearance, Deadpool finally returned to theaters this weekend and with much aplomb. While there is a legitimate case to be made that Deadpool rode a wave of limited though vociferous popularity all the way to Hollywood, there is now a better case to be made that will keep him there: His movie is legitimately good.
Say what you will about the irreverent mercenary, Tim Miller and company absolutely nailed the character in his self-titled movie; redeeming not only Deadpool himself from the travesty of his X-Men Origins transformation, but also Ryan Reynolds from his Green Lantern disappointment.[divider]Deadpool Movie: Well Executed[/divider]
Deadpool did so much well. I was genuinely surprised by it all, honestly. Somehow the movie managed to (more or less) address each of my hopes and fears and still exceed my fanboy expectations.
In other words: I went in hoping for something appeasing and walked away having watched a genuinely good super hero movie. One that, I daresay, outperforms many of the favored examples from the genre. Here’s what the movie did particularly well:
- The balance of humor and threat was almost perfect. I use the qualifier “almost” because there were more than a couple instances when I felt like jokes were being thrown at me simply because one had not been uttered in the last 60-120 seconds, but the overwhelming majority of the jokes landed well and made sense in context. They didn’t overplay the fourth wall breaking and they managed a solid mix of witty (or obscene) one liners and hilarious physical comedy. You’ll laugh a lot. You’ll feel guilty about some of the laughs, but a lot of them are just good fun! And striking the kind of balance achieved between humor and action is no small feat given the jocund nature of Deadpool. The action was on par with any other out there regardless of genre, and you get plenty of it.
- The flashback approach to his origin worked really well. The movie flip-flops between past and present with obvious transitions that did not jar the narrative flow. In fact, I think choosing to tell the story nonlinearly was a great move. It kept me from feeling like I didn’t get to see Wade Wilson as Deadpool until halfway or better through the movie. It gives you the costume immediately.
- The dramatic elements were convincing and powerful. The scenes between Wade and his girlfriend Vanessa revolving around his cancer diagnosis were moving. The humor is still there, but it feels more like a defense mechanism for Wade which gives him a bit more depth. The way they both respond after receiving the initial diagnosis, the conversations they have about what to do next, Wade’s genuinely difficult decision to take the recruiter up on his offer, and later Deadpool’s vigilantism’s motivational change from fixing his disfigured face to saving his girl…all of it is extremely well done. You’ll find that at the heart of this movie is a pretty decent love story. This keeps both the character and the movie itself from being one note, and it is something the movie does unexpectedly well.
- The supporting characters are handled well. Weasel’s connection to Wilson is well retconned (so, too, is how Wilson comes up with the Deadpool moniker) and he holds his own as a character. Blind Al and her relationship with Wilson makes sense. I think more could have been done to the connection between Colossus / Negasonic (both of whom are awesome in the movie) and Deadpool than the implication that they’d discussed Wade’s joining the X-Men before, but the dynamic amongst that trio is fantastic and it was fun watching the two X-Men go from policing Deadpool to having his back.
- Deadpool’s antihero-ness is very well engineered. You see him make selfish decisions. You see him make selfless decisions. You see him play nice with the good guys. You see him do things that the good guys definitely frown upon. In no moment is his antihero quality on display more perfectly than when he’s got Ajax in his hands and Colossus intervenes. Perfect depiction, perfect ending.
- They have fun with Deadpool’s powers (and it is hilarious). From the obvious consequences of punching Colossus bare-fisted to exploring the process of his regenerations when it comes to lost limbs, the movie uses his powers as a medium for more of Deadpool’s trademark comedy. But they also do a great job of showcasing how hard he is to slow down, significantly harm, or even kill the guy. At one point he’s got a combat knife wedged into his skull and is hardly any worse for the wear.
- The violence is well managed. Deadpool definitely comes by its R rating honestly. It is not a movie for minors. I was aghast at a dad who brought two elementary-aged kids to the movie and did nothing to avert their eyes, cover their ears, or…you know…remove them from the theater as its contents unfurled. Nudity and language aside, the violence element was actually well managed. It was never in your face and gratuitous; instead you saw what you would expect to see when an accomplished combatant utilizes guns and swords in the melee. Deadpool outright kills a lot of people in this movie (even an X-Man overtly kills at least two baddies!).
So here’s my final verdict: Assuming you’re at least of the legal age to watch this R-rated offering, do it. Here’s where I make the statement that may well put me in the hot seat with the other Nerds on Earth: Deadpool ranks among the best of Marvel’s movie offerings.
Is it #1? I don’t think so.
Top 3? Possibly. The argument could be made, though it might be a toughy.
Top 5? Easily. And its not as if Marvel is churning out garbage.