I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I went to see Deadpool in theatres last week. I hadn’t even seen the trailer. I just knew that it was a superhero movie, and that my college master’s office was paying for the tickets.
When I saw the bold “R” rating on the corner of my ticket, I began to suspect that it wasn’t going to be your typical Marvel-comic-inspired action movie. As a matter of fact, calling Deadpool a superhero movie would be highly inaccurate, for Deadpool himself constantly mocks and refuses to buy into the superhero concept. This spirit comes through immediately with the opening credits, which (instead of listing the cast and crew) blatantly introduce the “hot chick,” “British villain,” “comic relief,” and every other stereotypical superhero movie persona in an ironic, self-aware way. This brand of humor that permeates the film is not only successful but also very strategic, as it provides a safety net for any bad jokes and clichés, which can be taken as deliberately corny. Free of the confines of a PG-13 rating, Deadpool (played by the highly likeable Ryan Reynolds) really runs with the concept of anti-hero, and one with a racy sense of humor. He seamlessly delivers a breathtaking array of crude jokes and vulgar language, falls in love with a beautiful prostitute, and has no qualms about publicizing his sexual appetite.
Although the action scenes are impressive, and Deadpool’s origin story (as a former special agent-turned-mercenary who gets cancer then acquires healing powers after naively volunteering to be a lab rat for an attractive-yet-evil doctor with a British accent) was successfully delivered, the movie had the greatest impact as a love story and a comedy.
Reynolds’s Deadpool and Morena Baccarin’s Vanessa make for a couple whose love and chemistry transcend the griminess of the setting and the pathetic misery of their situations (there’s a running joke between them about who has had the most screwed up life). Their relationship adds a requisite sentimental aspect to the film, but the characters’ dark humor prevents their moments together from becoming too cheesy.
Setting itself even more apart from most other “superhero” movies, Deadpool puts humor first. This movie turns even the goriest of moments into the setup for a joke. Furthermore, a large portion of the jokes are delivered straight to the camera: the fourth wall is thrown out the window, an irreverence which is joked about, then joked about again. This surprising dynamic can be slightly uncomfortable at first, but it ends up adding an exciting energy to the characterizations, reminding viewers that there’s something more complex to these familiar genre types.
While Deadpool has a solid plot, the movie is more about flaunting its subversive qualities, deliberately meddling with expectations about superhero movies. With gasps and laughs being served a mile a minute, Deadpool is a movie aggressive enough to shake you out of the stupor of midterm season.