It seems that in order to get a movie about Deadpool made a Faustian deal occurred: The Marvel Powers That Be (along with apparently all X-Men Universe rights owners Fox) will only deign the right for this movie to exist if it’s couched in the safest of origin stories, sands off all the characters rough edge’s, has no other notable comic book character or actor from myriad other properties, and be saddled with what is comparatively an indie budget compared to other comic book movies especially those based in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (that name is still the stupidest).
Against all odds, Deadpool works! Then the torrent of caveats that always follow any comic book movie. It’s lacking a lot of what makes Deadpool a great comic book character and things should’ve seamlessly transferred to the silver screen nicely.
On top of this, there has to be a collective weariness from moviegoers about the half-a-dozen or so comic book movies that they have to endure every year. Deadpool does alleviate quite a bit of that weariness by proving, in parts, that you can produce something original and fun to watch without strapping it to a continuity anchor like MCU and all its unnecessary ties from one movie to another. Since 20th Century Fox apparently owns the X-Men, Deadpool doesn’t get to play with the others, and that’s probably for the best.
The underlying problem with Deadpool, as with most comic book movies, is that in the transition to the big screen it has to lose the elements that make that character stand out. The character is homogenized just enough to be recognizable to comic book nerds, but palatable to the average moviegoer. Which by this point has to be proving fallacious, as all of the comic book movie homogenization has just made more comic book nerds moviegoers and vice-a-versa? Marvel sells more Deadpool merchandise; Fox makes a bunch of money and earns a new franchise to beat mercilessly in to the ground. Everyone wins.
And while the movie pokes fun at it’s severely limited budget, bland bad guy, and lack of A-Team X-Men, it doesn’t mask the fact that Deadpool is a very SAFE comic book compared to what it could’ve been had the studio trusted the creative team behind the movie and let Deadpool rip. Perhaps the sequel, which will have that vastly expanded budget can expound on that and deliver a truer Deadpool experience (whatever that is). And maybe get rid of the whole “fiance origin story” humanizing nonsense?
The constant need to maintain a “safe” quality of the film is to make Wade Wilson/Deadpool a truly good person that just happens to believe he is an antihero. Early on in the film, Wade Wilson is shown scaring a young pizza delivery boy in to refraining from stalking some girl. Said girl hired Wilson’s “services” in the matter who uses the opportunity to do a little freelance work for a guy that owes some gambling debts. This continues with Wilson’s relationship with Vanessa Carlysle, to the point where the two are engaged before he is dealt a cancer diagnosis.
This seeming terminal diagnosis and need to do “what is best” for Vanessa leads Wilson to undergo nasty treatments to unlock latent mutant powers. Where he just so happens to run in to the boilerplate (and boring) villains of the movie and essentially annoys them in to being his enemies. Classic Deadpool!
Some reviewers have copped to this notion that the lack of Deadpool himself is what makes the film work. Upon watching the film myself, I don’t really buy that. It appears as though the studio bought Ryan Reynolds and was not so keen on keeping him hidden behind a mask. So there are lots and lots of unmasked Ryan Reynolds in this movie, both pre-and-post mutation. The reason why Deadpool fails to return to Vanessa is that he thinks she’ll find his disfigured face abhorrent, lending a certain vanity that I don’t think the comic book character actually possesses.
Deadpool vaguely earns its R rating via mostly cussing and very little else. A boob here, a shadowy shape of a dick there, but nothing that wouldn’t find itself in a comic book these days. It is far less clever than I think the writers thought it was at the time.
This R-rating also belies the notion that this movie is aimed a teen aged boys, and from some reason that is a determent to the film. This had to be patently absurd, is this movie not deriving itself from a comic book? Which are predominantly marketed to pubescent boys and man-children? What, now that comic book’s are transitioning to film they suddenly have to “grow up” to be taken seriously as a medium?
Deadpool, like many comic book movies, just does enough to justify its existence: to entertain “average moviegoers” and not let it “true fans” down. Once again, comic book nerds are falling in line behind this movie because “they didn’t fuck it up”.
Shouldn’t we be demanding more from our comic book movies? Especially now that we’re deep in to this perpetual comic book movie cycle? While not all of the comic book movies are going to be winners, most of them (at the very least) tend to make their money back. This is a genre of film that could use a lot more imagination and creativity, especially if we have umpteen years of this bullshit!