It’s an absolute miracle that we got the Deadpool movie that came out in theaters last night. Deadpool, despite his sudden cult resurgence in the last decade or so, is relatively minor character in the world of your Wolverines and your Spider-mans. He’s not marketable – too foul mouthed, too meta, way too many in-jokes – and any famous Hollywood actor we got to play him would never agree to cover up their face for most of the movie. Not to mention, Hollywood already screwed up Deadpool once, and you don’t get to come back from that sort of burial. You’d need an incredible series of events to get a movie on the screen and get it made right.
Which is why, even though I know the circumstances that led to this movie being made, I’m shocked that I sat down last night and watched a two hour Deadpool movie. And I’m even more shocked that it was good.
In the opening ten seconds of Deadpool, you will feel really good about this film. It’s clear immediately that the writers have captured the fourth wall breaking charm of the character that makes him so endearing to comic book fans around the world. Deadpool begins the film in the suit, cracking wise and killing bad guys in the freeway chase that was leaked last year, brought to life with practical effects. Within minutes, there will be a huge smile on your face, as long as you’re not offended by dirty words, dirty jokes, or copious amounts of blood.
But here’s the thing with Deadpool: He’s funny. Really funny. But his shtick is one thing, making kinda-meta jokes while killing people. And as anyone who’s read a bad Deadpool comic can tell you, that can get old really fast if it gets overdone. Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, the writers of this lovely little film, know this. And they have the timing down to a T. There are two stories to this film: the present, where Deadpool is in his suit, hunting down the man who messed up his face on a dynamite revenge mission and palling around with two of the X-men, and the past, which is a surprisingly heart-filled journey through Wade Wilson’s cancer diagnosis. Every time the wise cracking is about to reach its limit, we cut to the past, and grow to love this character through a deep, dark, and fascinating story. It’s kind of brilliant.
Reese and Wernick mastered the timing and the dialogue, but a lot of credit needs to go to Ryan Reynolds and Morena Baccarin. In the middle of a film about dick jokes and shooting dudes in the face, Reynolds and Baccarin are tasked with making us care about the characters, and they pull it off exceptionally well. Both actors treat love story that is the heart of this film – Wilson meeting Vanessa, falling in love, and finding out he has cancer – as a serious endeavor, despite Deadpool’s snide commentary. To the credit of everybody involved, it never feels like a different movie. Deadpool makes you understand that the character’s madcap zaniness is a defense mechanism to hide a lot of pain.
The only major problem I can see with the film is that it’s – the best way to say it is, “not for the easily offended,” but I hate that turn of phrase because it takes all the agency away from the people who are hurt. The film makes a lot of jokes about a lot of subjects, some of them very dark. There were many, many times that I laughed uproariously while the little voice in the back of my head said, “Should we be laughing at this?” While I didn’t find the film chauvinistic in any way – like I mentioned in the previous paragraph, Morena Baccarin’s character is a fully fleshed out character who holds the movie down on her own – there’s definitely a lot of language in here that might make you angry if you’re not ready for it. If you go in knowing you’re going to watch a very filthy movie, you should be ok.
It’s a miracle we got the Deadpool movie we did. We could have been stuck with the awful Deadpool from X-men Origins: Wolverine. We could have gotten a Deadpool movie that was all shtick and no heart. But instead, we got a really well acted, really well written, and really funny film that any fan of the character will definitely enjoy. Go check it out.