Wait, I liked this movie? What?
I was supremely skeptical heading into Deadpool, despite having a strong affection for the character and actually thinking Ryan Reynolds was good casting. I fucking hated the trailer, which got less funny every time I saw it; and I didn’t laugh the first time. Turns out there was a good movie hiding in there though.
Deadpool was one of the first comics I stared buying regularly, starting with issue #1 by Joe Kelly and Ed McGuinness back in 1997 and it was one of my favorites. But I’m also weary about the character because when he gets popular he tends to get too popular and flame out. Like when Marvel decided that putting out 5 Deadpool books at once was a good idea. Or the way internet meme culture grabs on so tightly to his fourth wall breaking, which can be a fun gag, but in the grand scheme is kind of incidental to the strengths of the character.
Those strengths being that he has fun doing what he does, and that despite having a good heart he’s tragically fucked up. His book was fun and full of romantic angst; the way Spider-Man should be but wasn’t at all in the 90s. Also with way more violence, which is nice.
Balancing irreverent comedy with real tragedy is super tough, and when it doesn’t hit the mark I get sad and bored pretty quick. Even that Joe Kelly run that I loved the start of eventually lost me because it lost sight of the fun. (Pretty much coinciding with McGuinness’ departure) And on the other side if you don’t have that tragedy side he can just be an insufferable shit, which just isn’t interesting.
So, how did the Deadpool movie pull it off? Because it made the right choice of genre to blend with: R rated romantic comedy!
Yes, this movie works because it has one of the best romances of any comic book movie. I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to see a movie, not just a comic book or even an action movie, just any movie, that depicts a romance where the partners actually have and enjoy having sex. That is much rarer than you might think. That was one of the things (among many others) that helped Kick-Ass be such a good movie. The scene where they fuck in the alley is important dammit.
The raunchiness and vulgarity just help this movie stand out in a crowded samey field. Not all the jokes hit, but there are just a lot of them, and they have a good pace to them. It succeeded at having the sleazy charm it was going for. The R rating also helps the action stand out from other marvel movies. It’s not great, or that graphic (it doesn’t compare to Kick-Ass or Dredd) but it’s something.
This isn’t an essential movie. If you want to continue living your life without having seen Ryan Reynolds’ ass, then maybe you should pass. It still falls prey to a lot of the same faults of other Marvel movies. (Even in Deadpool the villain he fights basically has a comparable power set.) Just not enough creativity.
One of the great things about that Kelly/McGuinness run was how they could introduce any D-list character and make it great. Joe Kelly has said, “With Deadpool, we could do anything we wanted because everybody just expected the book to be canceled every five seconds, so nobody was paying attention. And we could get away with it.” That spirit isn’t here; this still feels very calculated and at the end of the day pretty cliché.
Deadpool is not a movie worth a lot of praise, but it’s pretty good. In the oeuvre of Marvel movies it carves out its own niche. I enjoyed it.