Deadpool is the passion project of Ryan Reynolds and director Tim Miller. With a wealth of superhero films to parody and a hard “R” rating, this really is the perfect climate for a Deadpool film. But is this the best Deadpool adaptation? That’s a bit more complicated.
The film is very funny, that much is true. Deadpool breaks the fourth wall, that much is also true. The action looks great, the costume looks great, and the source material is honored well enough. But it does feel like there is a bit of missed opportunity lying beneath the otherwise entertaining film.
The character of Deadpool doesn’t just break the fourth wall. He doesn’t just comment on the comics he is in. Deadpool subverts the rules of the medium through his self-awareness. Comics, films, books, and pretty much every form of fiction come with inherent conventions. They can be obvious, like “a big climactic fight at the end,” or not-so-obvious, like the endless list of tropes you can find in the annals of internet scholarship. Deadpool, in many classic comic book stories, sets up many of those conventions only to pull the rug out at the last minute. It’s basically a reward for readers who notice the patterns behind their favorite stories.
This film, for all it’s fourth-wall breaking and awareness, ultimately adheres to the conventions of the genre it’s supposedly skewering. There was a standard origin story, a standard set of stakes, and a standard action finale. With so many superhero films flooding the box office, it ultimately feels a shame to have Deadpool follow the trend, rather than buck it. Take out the humor and charisma of the actors and you have yourself a very typical superhero story. It’s the Jurassic World problem…Jurassic World criticized audience for wanting a bigger monster and then they gave them a bigger monster. Deadpool criticizes the tropes of superhero movies and then adheres to those very same tropes.
That being said, the humor and charisma of the actors are what made this film great. It’s clear that there was a lot of passion behind the project, and there were dozens of laugh-out-load moments throughout the film. Whether it was just clever wordplay or the commentary on why the film was made the way it was made, the film will ultimately leave you smiling ear-to-ear.
Comedy has always been a staple of Deadpool, but longtime fans know that that has always been a mask for the underlying tragedy. This film actually does this tragedy decent justice. There are several stretches of the story that are full of dark, upsetting moments. Deadpool’s entire origin, in fact, is rooted in sadness; so much so that newcomers may be surprised at the lack of joviality in the story. With the hard-R rating essentially giving the director Carte Blanche to do whatever he wants with the jokes, it’s laudable how much time and dedication was put into the duality behind the character.
The was an ultimately enjoyable film. Hilarious jokes, with an undercurrent of sadness, did justice to the tone of the character, but the story played a bit conventionally to satisfy those who wanted a true genre-skewering experience. This was likely done as a safety move, as the movie’s R-rating made the film a riskier box office venture to studio heads. However the charisma and passion behind the project guarantees that we’ll see the Merc with a Mouth again.
I just hope that the sequel is called….Deadpool: The Sequel.
Alex Russo talks more than Deadpool. You can see for yourself on Twitter.