Fox Studios has finally given Deadpool an official release date. After years of speculation, talks of an amazing script, and faux progress reports from principle actors and writers this movie is upon us. February 12, 2016 will bring with it either one of the most unique comic book experiences from Fox or possibly its worst. The character of Deadpool is by all means a thing that works extremely well on the pages of a comic book. He has a unique set of circumstances that won't be easy to overcome in a live action movie, but with a bit of light tweaking he has the chance to be a break out hit.
To quickly get an understanding of the nature of the character, lets take a look at the "leaked" (never believed this wasn't anything more than a marketing tactic) test footage. This is pretty spot on Deadpool in just about every way. It even features Ryan Reynolds mo-capping and voicing the character:
The one thing with Deadpool is he, above the average comic book character, changes so drastically depending who is writing him. Deadpool has always been a goofy character, often spending time jumping back and forth from Ace Ventura: Pet Detective to general ninja bad ass. He is extremely comedic and sometimes it can be a bit much. Can audiences stand 1.5 hours of pancakes and chimichanga jokes? While classic fans of the character would likely love it, this is not ideal for a movie for the average movie goer.
Another issue with Deadpool is that he is completely self-aware. He often breaks the fourth wall (speaks directly to the comic reader or audience). He knows that he is in a comic book and addresses things that happen in the real world from time to time. Its one of the core things about the character that is so vastly different from every other comic book character we've seen on the big screen so far. Some have complained that having that be a factor would ruin the comic book movie universe that Fox has built. I don't think that would be the case. He is largely seen as being insane by mostly everyone he interacts with, so I would play to that aspect in the movie. I am personally a sucker for fourth wall breaking in movies. It just adds a dimension to a run of the mill story that can't be matched. Deadpool lives in that space of uniqueness, this aspect of his personality is a must.
So when I mentioned earlier about the hyper comedic ways that Deadpool is often portrayed I cringe at the thought of having to read his books when he is written that way. It likes too much sugar in your Kool-Aid. Sounds great at first but then you get that weird stomach ache. So how do you address this? Well you can go one of two ways, both with their pros and cons. First you can make Deadpool not a goofy character but rather have him crack just a few jokes and focus on the action. Similar to what Sam Raimi did with Spider-man. In that trilogy Tobey McGuire never really cracked wise while fighting. He had a couple of cheesy quips but all and all he just focused on winning the fight. It seemed to go over well with many non-comic readers, but more hardcore fans missed the Spider-man they know. Another way to address the goofiness is the sanitize Deadpool with a more serious partner. Obviously, that position would be ideal for his old parter Cable; think Lethal Weapon. Deadpool is Riggs and Cable is undoubtedly Murtaugh. The issue here would be a diluting of Deadpool in his own movie. While a buddy cop comic book movie is inevitable and frankly overdue, I don't think for Deadpool's first real outing this makes sense.
So how do we overcome this seemingly massive hurdle of comedy overload? The answer has already been given to us in the form of Rick Remender and Jerome Opeña's Uncanny X-Force run. Mixing together the rather hyper violent and comedic elements of Deadpool, Remender was able to write him in a 'twisted view of the world' sort of way. Never fully going into the routine that of a clown, rather Deadpool danced on that line. Take the image below for example. In this scene Archangel is dying, and Deadpool revives him with some "food."
Here subtly (this IS subtle for Deadpool) is the key to his twisted humor. I don't recommend that approach for the entire film, but moments like this are what will keep people from getting annoyed and stay true to the character's outlook on life.
The extreme light hearted nature of the character is equally balanced with his propensity for unbelievable violence. In order to make this work the film would seemingly need an R rating. However, rumor has it Fox isn't going to do that, but rather shoot solidly for PG-13. I don't think a PG-13 rating is the end of the world, but it does handicap the project somewhat. With the PG-13 rating we can expect bloodless shootings, fast cutting sword work, and one or two F-bombs. The violence plays as such a key component to his comedic ways that the writing for this will need to be top notch. For the record, the script was written by the guys behind Zombieland (Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese).
Hyper comedy, hyper violence, and a need to speak to the screen makes Deadpool a very risky move for Fox Studios. However, in that risk lies a possibility to adapt a character with a tremendous fan base. The risks are very high, but the reward for a new property in the X-Men universe is very seductive. Come February 12, 2016 will shall see just which way Fox decided to go.
How would you address the issues with translating Deadpool to the big screen? Let us know in the comments!