In 2008, a grim specter stood amongst the wreckage of a burning building while trying to comprehend the madness that caused the destruction, and his own potential role in creating that madness. In 2014, a soldier out of time confronted his best friend and his country (both of whom have turned against him) and pledged to die before giving up on either one of them. “You’re about to be killed by a f%*king zamboni! I’m gonna kill you... in like 5 minutes!” Cut to a wide shot of a clownish figure nestled atop his mechanical steed (a zamboni), bearing sloooowly down upon his mark. And thusly, my friends, we find ourselves in 2016.
That’s right, feast your eyes upon a near-immortal mercenary with skills and abilities that make him an absolute force to be reckoned with in the world of comics. Now feast your eyes upon that same mercenary as he retires to his room with magazines and a stuffed unicorn in order to practice some self-love with a small withered hand that is bound to increase the user’s self-esteem. So, is that it? Is that what audiences have been clamoring to see this the entire time? Has Deadpool cracked the secret formula? Did Deadpool choose Door #1 despite the host’s enticing offer of a chance at opening The Mystery Box instead? The answers to these questions are: not exactly, not really, and it won a trip to Club Med.
With Deadpool, the course of comic book movies has not been greatly altered by any means, so fans like myself that enjoy our Dark Knights, marvel at our Winter Soldiers, and revel in our Days of Future Past can rest easy. With Deadpool, what you have is, not an abrupt end of the line, but merely a small detour. It’s just a little something different, is all. But what exactly is the difference in question? Comic book movies have come in all shapes, sizes, and ratings over the years, and the idea that Deadpool is a success merely because of it’s R rating is sillier than a Green Lantern movie starring Ryan Reynolds. The Blade films and Watchmen were both R-rated affairs that boasted ultra-violence and naughty language but had little audience impact. Then, on the other side of the spectrum, you have the lighthearted Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy, both of which are films filled to the brim with high amounts of adventurous fun, and films that reaped far more success than the other two movies mentioned beforehand. And while a sense of fun might be the key, I think it’s the overdose of irreverence offered by Deadpool that has so many non-comic book fans embracing this pic. Now let’s talk about the actual movie. [*fade in to the 4th paragraph and cue the music*]
Deadpool is a hilarious send-up of the comic book film genre and a successful one at that, if you deign to hear my opinion. True, it ultimately finds itself going through the motions of a typical superhero origin story (Deadpool is not a hero, by the way), but I find nothing wrong with that, since any parody worth it’s salt should also share the same genetic makeup of that which it is parodying. Airplane! is a disaster film that makes fun of disaster films, and The Naked Gun is a cop movie that skewers cop movies. And while Deadpool may lack the purposeful self-seriousness of those previous examples, I still believe that it fits the criteria of a bonafide parody. The sophomoric toilet humor of the film could easily be dismissed and sentenced to death alongside any number of direct-to-DVD American Pie films, but since it exists in this established world of mutants and heroes, it is allowed to thrive and continue its surprisingly welcome mission of deconstruction. It also doesn’t hurt that the comedic timing in this film is absolutely spot-on and supported by some excellent visual humor as well. For me, though, it’s the little things that made the biggest impact. As funny as it is to hear Ryan Reynolds scream out various sexual expletives and fly through the air screaming in fear, a moment featuring him in the full Deadpool costume casually trotting up to knock on the door of the X-Men Mansion is worth its weight in all of the holiday sex jokes that are thrown at you. It’s a dirty, silly movie to be sure, but it does not lack in cleverness by any stretch. And it was a nice little change of pace in a year when we find ourselves landlocked by intense and serious-looking superhero team-up/battle movies.
So, to the big-wigs of Fox, I beg you to heed the warnings of James Gunn, director of Guardians of the Galaxy. Audiences have indeed enjoyed this (different?) take on comic book films, and you are right to celebrate its success. For those not previously familiar with the character of Deadpool, it was refreshing and unexpected. Keep giving us that. [*cue inspirational music*] We don’t want a bunch of Deadpool imitators flooding the box-office, and we are not as enamored with the R-rating as you think. Keep surprising us. You took a gamble on a raunchy little comic book movie that you had spent years avoiding and even went out of your way to derail (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) at one point. There are no certainties in this business, so I say keep on gambling, but don’t just limit yourself to the fantasy genre. Broaden your horizons to include smaller and more independent films as well. Who knows what could be the next “Deadpool”? It could be a small independent romance or a low-budget cerebral thriller. Find something that audiences aren’t interested in and throw your heart and souls into a project about it anyways. Spread your wings; aim for the horizon, and with the grace of-----You’re trying to make an R-rated Wolverine movie, aren’t you? Oh well, a person can dream.
Deadpool is currently splitting many sides in theaters, and I, for one, recommend that you dive into the silliness immediately. In the meantime, check out one of the very few SWF trailers below: