by Savvas Savvinidis
For all of its refreshing gags, profanity, unbridled gore, and self-mockery, Deadpool often winds up mimicking its own parody stock, and not in a good way.
The story of the film’s development is one you might not expect: shelved for years after a false start in the early 2000s, Deadpool finally graced theaters in its current form thanks in no small part to the efforts of leading man (and producer) Ryan Reynolds, who, in 2012, funded a five minute short which served as test footage for the film. This test footage was leaked to the public and received an extremely positive reception, convincing 20th Century Fox to greenlight an R-rated superhero, typically considered box office poison.
That crucial decision seems to have paid off. Deadpool grossed $132.7 million during its opening weekend in North America, a record-breaking achievement for an R-rated film, and has gone on to earn close to $492 million in both domestic and foreign markets.
Deadpool sometimes feels like a sci-fi sequel to Van Wilder, capitalizing on Reynolds’ narcissistic charm and hyperactive delivery to portray an anti-hero whose comic book reputation is inane fast talk and questionable mental health. It’s Reynold’s performance that makes the movie, which is more character driven than most superhero material.
Of course, there’s no need to downplay the rest of the cast. As this film is placed canonically within the very disjointed X-Men franchise, two X-men are featured quite heavily in the plot, primarily as the comically heroic foil to Deadpool’s amoral behavior. T.J. Miller, a regular on H.B.O.’s Sillicon Valley, plays sidekick and bartender Weasel, earning many laughs.
While Deadpool delivers humor at every possible opportunity, and often at the expense of the recent decade and a half of comic book cinema, it ultimately fails to break free of certain tropes which make that genre so frustrating. For example, in an effort to lampoon the tendency of superhero films to culminate in bombastic, CGI-heavy set pieces, Deadpool features yet another such mediocre display as its finale.
Perhaps I’m jaded. This is, after all, a superhero movie, despite its Kevin Smith script and comedic overtones. Its chief responsibility — its meat and potatoes — is action. That action may be unoriginal, even generic, but it is a required canvas on which to present something unique.
Deadpool isn’t quite the movie it could have been, but it’s a step in the right direction. Its good elements are mostly great, and when it’s funny, it’s often hilarious. As a commentary, it misses the mark, but as a superficial, self-aware action comedy, it is very much on point.
Oh and, please, don’t bring your kids.
Images and trailer are property of 20th Century Fox.