The Mad Libs of comic book movies. This one’s for the fans.
The journey to theaters for Deadpool has been a long one. Ryan Reynolds played the titular character in X-Men Origins: Wolverine as a silent but deadly killer, which misses the entire thrust of the character. This character is a wisecracking, violent character known as “The Merc With a Mouth.” After the utter failure of Green Lantern, a Deadpool movie with Ryan Reynolds seemed as far from reality as possible, but some test footage of a possible movie “leaked,” became a viral hit, and the movie was greenlit. Would this movie be the crass, irreverent, R-rated film that the fans want?
The answer to this is clearly yes. The fans are going to eat this up. As for everyone else? I’m not so sure. The movie plays as both a by-the-book comic book origin story and as a satire of a by-the-book comic origin story. The best satires succeed by being being good at being both of these; where Deadpool runs into trouble is that it is a horrible by-the-book comic book movie.
The jokes are of two types. There are jokes that are on the level of “that’s what she said.” This is just the character being irreverent, and he surrounds himself with people who work on the same level. This material is just dumb, and will appeal to teenagers (and younger) stepping over the line to see an R-rated movie. The other material is self referential material. Fourth walls are broken successfully, other comic book movies are lampooned properly, and the movie itself is the butt of many jokes, most of which hit their mark.
The cast is small but effective. Ryan Reynolds is criminally underrated as an actor, and gives a good performance here. When he’s in costume, who knows how much is him, and how much is stuntmen or stand-ins? Morena Baccarin is the love interest here, and may or may not be imperiled by Ed Skrein’s villain, Ajax. T.J. Miller is the best friend who has a joke for every situation. It’s a typical cast of characters, and Deadpool even takes the opportunity to snicker at its own unoriginal course of events.
What I doubt is that anyone outside the target audience is going to enjoy this one. Are you excited about a Deadpool movie? You’re going to like it. Are you curious about the Deadpool movie because your geek friends have been waiting for this one for years? You will probably find it extremely disappointing. Can a bad movie be a good movie? Here’s our test case. Deadpool does what it’s trying to do, but nothing more. That clearly makes it a success.
Deadpool opens nationwide today. Do not, under any circumstances, miss the opening credits. I also recommend staying through the closing credits.