Deadpool is the first mainstream comic book movie to be rated R since 1998’s Blade starring Wesley Snipes. Since that time, the subgenre of films has been largely PG-13 and has enjoyed massive financial and some critical success. Enter, Tim Miller’s new entry into the genre, Deadpool, starring Ryan Reynolds who has been the properties biggest advocate since he played a version of the character in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Miller alongside Reynolds, with the help of writers Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese have created one of the best comic adaptation in recent memory.
Sometimes complex themes and storytelling are needed to give a movie weight and depth. In the case of Deadpool, its simplicity is what makes it work so well. The story revolves around a wisecracking former special forces mercenary, Wade Wilson, who after meeting the love of his life is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Wilson then undergoes treatment to cure his cancer, but things go sideways and he becomes the anti-hero known as Deadpool. That’s the long and short of it, but how our “hero” comes about and what he does once he is fully realized is why you should pay your money to see it. The movie begins in the middle with Wilson already Deadpool and then we get flashbacks filling in his story. The flashbacks do a great job establishing his love affair with Vanessa Carlysle (Morena Baccarin), and why she is a driving force force Wilson throughout the film.
The simplistic story works extremely well at a tight 108 minutes, but what really seals the deal is the comedy. Ryan Reynolds was born to play the role of Wade Wilson/Deadpool. It feels like the ‘merc with a mouth’ coming alive directly from the comic book pages. This is clearly Reynolds passion project and he absolutely shines. It makes you wonder if some of the dialogue wasn’t largely improvised as it fits Reynold’s comedic style perfectly. Writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick’s work on the gruesome, yet hilarious, Zombieland is a fantastic fit for what Deadpool needs to be. A movie with action, comedy, brutality, and a bit of heart to make it an absolute must see this year. Deadpool breaks February's curse of terrible films and set up an inexpensive franchise that Fox can count on in the future.
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One last note that has less to do with my feelings on the film itself, but what it might represent going forward:
Fox has been struggling to gain true massive traction in the comic movie subgenre with disastrous releases like Fantastic Four as of late. However, they seem to be gaining in popularity again with X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Days of Future Past. While I am not personally a huge fan of those movies I will admit that they are competently shot and acted. Deadpool creates a problem in the X-Men movie universe in my opinion. Up until now, Fox has made largely early 2000s style comic book movies with fairly small action set pieces and largely forgettable stories. However, in 2016 they have themselves a true runaway hit, but that might not be such a good thing for them. Deadpool doesn’t just push the envelope with its R rating, but rather in its style. It’s clear that director Tim Miller has been paying close attention to the Marvel Cinematic Universe films in the creation of his movie. Deadpool feels more like a Marvel made film than anything Fox has ever done. There seems to be a level of stubbornness from director Bryan Singer and writer Simon Kinberg to make fun X-Men films, but instead make introspective heavier ones. Frankly, I think they fail at that aspect as well. However, the audience’s response to Deadpool and its style might force a direction change at the studio, more than they anticipated. I hope that it does happen, because frankly, the X-Men universe could use the shot in the arm that is Deadpool’s style. They don’t need to be R rated or crude to work better, they just need to be lighter, fun, and truer to the original characters from the book. Tim Miller, Ryan Reynolds, Paul Wernick, and Rhett Reese made the best X-Men universe film in 16 years bar none.