Director: Tim Miller
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, T.J. Miller, Ed Skerin, Gina Carino, Stefan Kapicic, Brianna Hildebrand, Jed Rees
Released: 12th February
The first superhero flick of 2016 comes courtesy of Ryan Reynolds having a second go at the character of Wade Wilson, aka the “Merc with a mouth”… Deadpool. First-time director Tim Miller along with the writing team of Zombieland (Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick) bring to the screen the notorious fourth wall breaking comic book character in all his wise-cracking gory glory.
Being a comic book character origin story, there’s the usual exploration of the protagonist’s life before becoming the hero (or more like anti-hero in Deadpool’s case). Wade, a former special ops solider working as a mercenary, has a most unusual introduction to Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), a hooker not afraid to bite back at rude bystanders. The next hero cliché is the customary “tragic event”: for Wade it’s cancer. After being given a dire diagnosis of cancer spread throughout his body, Wade takes up an offer from a creepy “Agent Smith”-type recruiter (Jed Rees) to enter an experimental program headed by shady operatives Ajax (Ed Skerin) and Angel Dust (Gina Carino) to cure him of his ills and make him a hero. Wade emerges from this program as a very unconventional “hero”, who is determined to remove a greater evil that has wronged him – though not without spreading love advice to cabbies and having a laugh or two along the way.
Over the last few years there has been an increase in comic book hero origin stories; therefore it can be hard for filmmakers to do something original. The story structure is something different – the timeline is not as linear as previous superhero films Reynolds has been involved in such as X-Men Origins: Wolverine or Green Lantern. Deadpool’s origin story of how he was “made” is intrinsically linked with his present revenge plan towards those who’ve done him wrong. In the wrong hands this arrangement could seem too fractured, however the character’s infamous trait of breaking the cinematic “fourth wall” is used efficiently to connect the past and present. Deadpool’s inner thoughts are frequently narrated to the audience, sometimes directly into the camera by an on-screen Deadpool. This commentary displays Wade’s unhinged psyche as well as bridging the information gaps to the audience, and is a handy tool in making the character somewhat relatable.
As is natural for films in this genre, there isn’t a lack of visual effects: despite having a miniscule budget compared to X-Men: Days of Future Past, it couldn’t be made without them. Tim Miller, although a feature film noob as a director, isn’t a stranger in this department having had previous experience in visual effects in both video games like Mass Effect 2 and Star Wars: The Old Republic and in films Thor: Dark World and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. His understanding of this field is evidenced in scenes like the car chases, and achieved by working with numerous companies like Blur Studio (a company he co-founded) and Weta (known for The Hobbit, The Hunger Games and Avatar). The title sequence is a thing of beauty: a 360° panoramic view of crazy action and “Easter eggs” that pretty much sends itself up by using typical comic book film clichés. The realism of the visual effects does a really good job in giving the film an authentic feel within its limited budget without coming off cheap or tacky.
Deadpool provides a breath of fresh air in the superhero genre. It is 108 minutes of well-choreographed action, sassy, almost satirical humour, and most importantly maximum effort. Reynolds’ championing of a character dear to his heart has paid off in spades. This film has more than made up for the character’s undeserved fate in X-Men Origins: Wolverine – the marketing campaign alone was a stroke of genius that could not have worked for anybody else. This is the anti-hero the world never knew it needed and would not want any other way.