Deadpool: Never a hero

Film

It’s taken a while but Ryan Reynolds has finally been allowed to do what he wants on screen. More or less. And Deadpool is pretty much the perfect character for him. He IS Ryan Reynolds. Kind of. For his version is complete with pegging, teabagging and masturbation jokes, which all come thick and fast (pun intended) and half of which you’ll probably miss first time round but that’s OK, just see it again.

It’s not just the Reynolds show though, all films are a team effort and the more the filmmakers have pushed the envelope here, the better the results. And it’s clear, from the marketing materials pre-release to Reynolds’ take on the character, everyone was pulling towards the same goal. And, let’s face it, antiheroes are far more fun to watch than straight up heroes anyway. As Deadpool says time and again, he’s no hero and continually resists the call, but that’s kind of the point.

He also pokes fun at the whole superhero concept, regularly breaking the fourth wall to address the audience directly on how absurd everything seems to be. Meta and meta and meta some more.

Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) reacts to Colossus’ (voiced by Stefan Kapicic) threats.

One slight negative to note is that – despite this being very funny for large parts – plot wise it’s thin to say the least. And that’s as good a place as any to start, in terms of a review.

So we kick off with a scene on a freeway (seen in the trailer) where Deadpool lays into a host of bad guys, then flip to his backstory where, as former special forces chap turned mercenary Wade Wilson, he spends his time roughing up puny geeks. Clearly he’s coasting and rather aimless.

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Then he meets Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), falls in (kinky) love and, before he can enjoy it all, gets well and truly floored by cancer. So he opts for an experimental treatment conducted by unhinged (obviously British) evil scientist Ajax (Ed Skrein) who – in an effort to release his mutant genes – tortures and deforms him and leaves him for dead.

It works, giving him extraordinary regenerative powers but leaves him horribly disfigured. And there we have our main character’s motivation: get his grotesque body fixed (only evil Ajax can fix him), win back his girl (somehow) and get revenge. Simples.

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And that’s about it… revenge tale 101. We jump back and forth in time a lot in the first third, mostly so Reynolds can lay on the jokes as if they’re going out of fashion (although most of them do land well), and we also get to meet a couple of lesser X-Men (Collosus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead) who he recruits to help him out, but ultimately there’s not much more to it.

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Plus, as usual – and as is often the case – bad guys in Marvel movies get a rather short shrift and Ajax (Ed Skrein) is no exception. His character is so thin you feel nothing for him (and you should, because all the best baddies make you care; in that you want them to die/lose but you’re having too much fun watching how they go about achieving their evil goals).

It’s probably not Ed’s fault. He gave it a go but had little to work with and ultimately Reynolds’ Deadpool occupied the space of both hero and villain, leaving little room for anyone else of real substance. How Deadpool would fit into a larger ensemble movie is a bigger (more difficult) question, but if they can make it work with the Avengers a la Tony Stark then there’s a way.

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I’m torn on whether Deadpool 2 is a good idea. It feels fresh now and, if anything, they could have pushed the adult nature of it further. But maybe, MAYBE, he’s better in small doses – unless there’s a cracking story to be told. (Although I have heard that a sequel is all but confirmed now.)

In 2010 Kick-Ass shook up the superhero format emphatically and felt needed, then in 2014 Kingsman: The Secret Service did a similar thing for spy-type superhero movies. And now, in 2016, Deadpool has given superheroes yet another kick up the spandex-clad backside. Where the genre goes from now is anyone’s guess, but please Hollywood (another warning), don’t roll out a host of copycats, it won’t work and it’ll bore us all to death.

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