Last week gave us the number 1 highest grossing Rated R release in Us Box Office History. And it was a Marvel Movie. And it had a mouth.
With a merc attached to it
That’s right, the Merc with the Mouth took the top spot, and with good reason, for a movie that pushed the limits of what you can stick into an R rating.
It had a couple scars as a film, but over all the whole experience was smooth Deadpool. Perhaps its only weaknesses were a lack of a good villain and that it gave you too much of everything you wanted and expected. There were no surprises in that there were no surprises.
The first thing that needs to be made clear is that movies and comics are two different types of media, and that certain characters translate from one to the other more smoothly than others. That being said, the nature of Deadpool as self-aware character translates very well to the screen. His constant comic asides to the audience are hilarious and in keeping with consummate Deadpool tradition. His irreverent reference to both his own past as a character in X-Men Origins: Wolverine (::cough:: terrible ::cough::), and that of the actor that portrays him (Ryan Reynolds in Green Lantern, a character who as of yet has NOT translated well to screen) are gut-poundingly gratifying.
One element that is lacking is any real stake for Deadpool himself. His pre-Deadpool form of Wade Wilson is diagnosed with cancer and pretty much resigns himself to death, running away from his fiancée and taking a last ditch effort for a cure with no regard to his safety. After the treatment gives him the immortal powers of Deadpool, there is little at stake for him, only the life a woman who he has left behind (and even this link feels weak when they re-unite), and he morphs into a joke to be enjoyed, not really a character who takes us on a journey. And this is a problem innate to the character of Deadpool himself, a character who takes nothing seriously for the most part and cannot die. He is a comic within a comic, a foil for other characters to play off of, especially for morally strong characters like Cable and Spiderman for whom there are high stakes, many deep attachments, and permanent liabilities.
That moral compass role is filled by Colossus in this film, who finally gets his proper due in his visual execution and character portrayal. In previous X-Men films (which also do not escape jabs and ridicule in this film) Colossus is a background character, almost an afterthought who is often seen more in his human form, with no Russian accent avowing his lawful good alignment. In this film it is the complete reverse, as we see him fully and effectively in CGI metallic form in every shot, with a thick Russian accent, spouting the merits of heroism, merits which Deadpool vehemently rejects. Indeed Deadpool is not a hero in any sense of the word. Heroism comes from risk and altruism, and neither of those concepts are present in Deadpool’s motivations for vanquishing the super-strong mutant villains. His reasons are vengeful, violent and insane, which while completely appropriate for the insanity, depravity and fully self-aware character of Deadpool, do not a hero make. Colossus, though not the focus of the film, seems to become a necessary part so that we have a core of morality to give us perspective, and perhaps permission, to enjoy all the crazy hyper-violence, torture, and sexuality we see onscreen.
The villain, Franics AKA Ajax is serviceable, nothing but an evil sadist who is drunk on his own power and torturing others, and whose only purpose is to serve as a receptacle for Deadpool’s hate. That is one of the film’s biggest weaknesses. No compelling villains. But then again, perhaps Deadpool’s atrocious behavior straddles enough of the hero/villain line to make up for it. Negasonic Teenage Warhead feels underdeveloped and underused, nothing more than side eye/power candy, though if there is a sequel (and according to the stinger, there will be) hopefully she will be more developed. There was lots of physical female empowerment in this movie, despite its misogynist anit-hero.(Negasonic and Angel kick some serious ass, and Deadpool’s love interest even pegs his!) However female character development was lacking.
There is lots of fun and laughs, some substance, and Ryan Reynolds was born for this role. The action is amazing ( the slow motion intro battle and the final battle are triumphant) and there are too many in jokes and nods (though I will mention the crashed SHIELD helicarrier as a battle backdrop) to other movies, heroes and intellectual properties, to mention in a brief article. And I wouldn’t want to spoil them all. So go grab a chimichanga and give Deadpool a watch!