Just some quick backstory here. Development began on Deadpool way back in 2000. Artisan Entertainment announced it was co-producing with Marvel. Then New Line Cinema picked it up with David S. Goyer (Whose comic credits include the Blade trilogy, co-writing Christopher Nolan’s Batman series, Man Of Steel, Batman VS Superman, and the last Ghost Rider movie) attached to direct (He also directed a young Ryan Reynolds in Blade:Trinity). When Goyer left, Fox put the film in turnaround. Ryan Reynolds became interested in the role around this time as the character referred to himself as looking like a cross between him and a shar-pei dog in an issue.
Several years later, the studio began production on that horrible travesty X-Men Origins: Wolverine. After casting Reynolds, early in the process they began considering a Deadpool spin-off. After it opened big (Despite being the worst X-Men movie), the studio started lending it out to writers to work on with Lauren Schuler Donner as the producer (She’s basically produced every X-Men movie). It was important for her (And Reynolds) that the Deadpool movie be faithful to the comic. They wanted it Rated R with potty humor and fourth wall breaks. Writing partners Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (Who did Zombieland and G.I. Joe Retaliation together) wrote a script and Robert Rodriguez (Sin City, Desperado) was in talks to direct. At this point, I’m assuming they decided to go with an unknown director to save some money because they weren’t going to be given the usual superhero movie budget. Adam Berg, a music video director, was in talks at one point before they settled on Tim Miller who had never directed a major motion picture before (But did have an Oscar nomination for an animated movie). Even with all this in place, it still took them leaking the test footage they animated for a scene to get the film made. After the reaction the leak got online, the studio finally got to work.
To be honest, I don’t blame them. After the initial success of the Blade films, R rated comic book movies have been a tough sell. Blade II and Trinity did OK, both Punisher movies lost money, especially the second one (Probably all three if you include the Dolph Lundgren 1989 film. I wasn’t able to find any numbers on it). I know what you’re thinking. “But Watchmen made over a hundred million!”. You’re right, but it’s budget was $130 million so it still lost money. So yes, it’s been a long wait.
It always comes down to dollars…
This year is also the twenty-fifth anniversary of the character. Originally created as a villain by Rob Liefeld, Deadpool would go on to receive his own comic within two years and become a cult hero. Deadpool was so well liked by a portion of the comic population that they started putting him in video games (Which was my first major exposure to him). After appearances in X-Men Legends II, both Marvel Ultimate Alliance games, and Marvel VS Capcom III, I became enamored of the merc with a mouth who would break the fourth wall and remind you to pick up health when he was low, make wise cracks, and moonwalk when you backed him away.
On top of the long wait, the promotional campaign these last few months has been staggering. Between Ryan Reynolds addressing the announcement of a PG-13 rating in person and in character for an April Fool’s joke to the short film How Deadpool Spent Halloween, the many other youtube videos Ryan Reynolds did (Including the Happy Australia Day and testicular cancer PSA’s), their Twitter presence (Which included the Twelve Days Of Deadpool where they released something every day on the twelve days leading up to the trailer premiering), and the rest of the ad campaign, the build up has been huge for this film. It’s not often that a movie comes along with this much hype and delivers but man does this deliver.
Deadpool follows Wade Wilson, a dishonorably discharged soldier from the Canadian Special Forces (Who knew?) now working as a mercenary. Shunned for his terrible sense of humor, he finds a kindred messed up spirit in a prostitute named Vanessa (Morena Baccarin- Firefly/Serenity, Spy). After finding true love, Wade discovers he has very aggressive cancer and little time left to live. After giving her the option to leave and not be forced to go through his painful death, Vanessa vows to stay by his side. Soon, he’s approached by a mysterious recruiter who tells him they can cure him and give him fabulous abilities. Out of love for Vanessa, he submits to the program.
The program is run by Ajax (Ed Skrein- Star of The Transporter Refueled) and Angel Dust (Gina Carano- Star of Haywire and my erotic fantasies). They are using a drug to give people genetic mutations and then torture to stress them out enough for them to activate. They are also not turning anyone into heroes but selling them to the highest bidder. Deadpool’s mutant gene is finally triggered but leaves him horribly scarred. Emotionally unable to go back to Vanessa because he hates his appearance, Deadpool has vowed to track down Ajax and force him to change him back. Meanwhile, Colossus seeks to convince Deadpool to change his murderous ways and join the X-Men.
I’ll start with a few problems. I could be wrong, but I don’t think they ever actually referred to it as the Weapon X program. It would have been nice if there were some kind of reference to Wolverine having been there (They could be changing that for the movies though. It’s already pretty fucked up since X-Men Origins doesn’t really connect with any of the other X-Men films). Deadpool’s healing factor is taken from Wolverine’s so I’m not sure why they didn’t include that. The way they wrote it, his mutation could have been anything and just happened to be a healing factor that would keep his cancer at bay. Also, I could have sworn that Deadpool’s body was scarred from a fire but couldn’t find anything to back that up. Granted, Deadpool’s origin has been changed and retconned so many times that it’s impossible to be nitpicky about details like this though.
I could have used more back story on Sister Margaret’s. Was this something they didn’t get to because they assumed non-fans weren’t going to see it so why fill them in? I couldn’t find much about it online. It almost seemed like The Continental Hotel from John Wick. Also, it kind of seemed like not a lot of time had passed since he became Deadpool (I think he mentions at one point that he has been waiting a year) and when the film occurs. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure a lot of his abilities could be explained by his previous special forces training but I doubt they do a lot of work with swords. I will grant you that he could have picked up advanced sword training in that time but it seems a little odd that Colossus knows him so well. They definitely portray the Colossus/Deadpool relationship like they’ve had many dealings together over a long amount of time. From that standpoint though, coupled with the additional training he would have had, it seems like more time has elapsed than they portrayed. This could be explained because of the various rewrites they had to do. I would love to read the original script. Apparently, at one point Cannonball and Kane were going to be in it but had to be removed.
The only real other complaints I had were Weasel and Blind Al. What function did they serve? I like T.J. Miller (I even thought he was good in the abysmally bad Transformers movie) and although his lines were funny I didn’t really like his delivery. Leslie Uggams was great as Blind Al but if you removed her from the movie you wouldn’t miss anything except a bunch of great jokes. In the comics, she’s actually held captive by Deadpool and they have a SUPER complicated relationship. Although they did a good job of scratching the surface of this in the short time they had with the way Deadpool alternately treats her like shit and also as a type of mother figure, I would have liked to see more backstory besides the fact that he simply found her on craigslist (Do they even have craigslist in Canada?).
Despite all that, there were no big glaring problems to lose major points here. They threw in all the Deadpool staples, self-aware comedy, fourth wall breaks, creative violence, hilarious sexually charged and immature humor, and even added some little nods to the fans like his ongoing rivalry with Wolverine and Hydra Bob (Or Bob, Agent of Hydra. Ajax’s lackey at the end that he recognizes and doesn’t kill). They also managed to put in the most intrinsic component of what makes Deadpool interesting. At his heart, Wade Wilson is very serious and tortured. Part of what distinguishes Deadpool comics from others is that they’re very funny which I think is what sucks a lot of people in but at it’s heart he is this tormented individual and there are brief moments where that shines through which are essential for that character and this movie has that. You care about him and his relationship with Vanessa. He’s always a bit self-conscious about his appearance in the comics but I think they were able to dial that up in the film because of how he believes Vanessa will reject him because of it.
They were also extremely successful in being faithful to the way the character moves and fights in the comics utilizing flips and arms-stretched-out spins for sword showdowns and firefights. Like the way females are drawn, the way superheroes move in comics just isn’t very realistic sometimes and they did a great job of capturing that the same way they have recently in the Amazing Spider-Man films and Captain America:Winter Soldier. The costumes were good (Especially the actual Deadpool suit). The soundtrack was fun. The cinematography wasn’t Oscar worthy but added some cool elements to a lot of the action sequences. And did I mention that it’s funny? Very, very, funny?
The acting is good in most cases. Although I wasn’t expecting huge things from it, this is one of those films where bad acting would have been very noticeable. The real standouts were Brianna Hildebrand who did a great portrayal of Negasonic Teenage Warhead (A minor X-Man) and Stefan Kapicic who did a bang up job as Colossus. I wasn’t really crazy about the fact that they never showed him in human form (Although I realize why), but his delivery is incredible. Although they finally got around to making Colossus a bit darker in the comics, the decision to use the classic Always-Going-To-Do-The-Right-Thing positive attitude Colossus is the perfect foil for Deadpool’s sarcasm and macabre view of life.
The real star of the show is Ryan Reynolds though. I was interested to see how he differentiated this from the Hannibal King character he did in Blade:Trinity and his earlier performance in X-Men Origins. Did he ever rise to the occasion. I loved his earlier performance as Deadpool, but I think this vastly surpasses it by adding the manic emotional outbursts he has. His jocular timing has always been well above average but this may even usurp Van Wilder as his best comedic performance. As I mentioned earlier though, the serious moments are what ultimately define Deadpool and Reynolds does an amazing job of weaving between the two particularly in the scene where he first shows Weasel what’s happened to his face in the bar. His ability to vacillate between humor and being hurt by the jokes is fantastic. Also, the scenes where he attempts to approach Vanessa and chickens out are masterfully pulled off.
On top of everything else, he’s able to act well with a mask covering his face which is almost impossible to pull off (Besides in general just wanting to show the star’s face this is part of the reason they always show Robert Downey Jr’s face inside the Iron Man suit and Captain America is always finding a reason to take his helmet off). I think they cheated a bit and used CGI to manipulate the mask’s eyes so you’re able to see them open wide with surprise or narrow with suspicion and things like that, but the decision to do so was a smart one. It provides the subtle catalyst to back up Reynold’s performance when it would otherwise be hampered by the mask.
Beyond his performance though, it also should be noted how much above the call of duty Ryan Reynolds went for this flick. Besides all the hoops he had to jump through to get it greenlit in the first place, he’s really done a great job of additionally promoting it. Between all the supplemental videos they’ve shot, and showing up for appearances at screenings, and Twitter presence, and their masterful campaign to portray it as a romantic comedy for Valentine’s Day, it really shows you how committed to this he is and just how much he believes in it. There’s even a bit of theatricality involved. This movie probably only got made because they leaked that test footage so they added a post-credits scene where Deadpool announced Cable would be in the sequel, which probably will go a long way towards ensuring it happens. It seems like the studio has already greenlit one and this has already done really well money-wise so hopefully all of these things will come to pass. Also, hopefully the success of this will give them more of a budget next time to really do things right.
All in all, the movie is ridiculously fun and way over the top but brought back down to Earth when it needs to be to have actual substance. On top of all that, it might be the most accurate comic book movie ever made when it comes to sticking with the source material (I’d argue that Sin City and Watchmen are both up there though). For all these reasons, I’m giving this movie an A. It’s not a perfect movie but it is the next best thing. And on a personal note, thank you to everyone who helped make this for not letting me down as a fan.
T-Bagz favorite superhero is Spider-Man but for some reason he has more Deadpool action figures