Why? (Why not?): Reviewing Deadpool

By Erin Bassler

There are the ones you call when the world needs saving, and then there’s Deadpool. The latest masked Marvel to make it to the big screen is showing everyone that some supers aren’t meant to be heroes.

In Tim Miller’s adaptation of Deadpool, Ryan Reynolds throws off his chains as Green Lantern by playing smart-mouthed and morally gray Wade Wilson, a mercenary for hire. The movie has broken box-office records by having the highest-grossing opening weekend for an R-rated movie, proving that the crudes have once again outfoxed the prudes.

In a stunningly unexpected turn of events (but not really), Wilson enrolls in a “government cancer treatment/superhero-making program,”  which ends up going horribly wrong. Now he’s Deadpool, rocking a wicked red spandex suit, still wisecracking, still cheerfully amoral, and still unhinged—times ten. Plus, he’s now pretty much immortal with a face only a mother could love.

Deadpool is now on a mission to hunt down the man who ruined his face and body and regain his stellar good looks. He’s generously decided to take the audience along on this exciting journey, filled with true love (explicit debauchery), intimate communication (gratuitous violence), and fourth-wall breaks (hello!).

The cast is a menagerie of superhero movie stereotypes. You’ve got Morena Baccarin (the hot love interest), T.J. Miller (the comic-relief best friend), Ed Skrein (the British baddie), Gina Carano (Henchwoman #1), and Stefan Kapičić and Brianna Hildebrand (our cameo super-buddies). It’s even got Leslie Uggams as the old, blind, sort-of mentor. Each character comes with its own special brand of charm, even with the weight of archetype hanging around their necks.

What’s the kicker, you ask? Why is a movie that’s filled to the brim with typecasting, sexual content, wanton killing, and more swears than you’d hear at your local sailor convention so gosh darn appealing?

It’s funny.

Deadpool is a non-stop, 108-minute riot. The sheer number of expressions (through the mask, mind you) that Reynolds is able to portray are paired with enough crude (but effective) references that even the sourest of sourpusses will crack a smile. The film manages all this by tempering its R-ratedness with a surprisingly light and easy cadence. The blood, gore and vulgarity never once distract from the adventure. While some will take this as proof of our growing desensitization to violence, it really belies the filmmakers’ ability to depict some of the more explicit parts of life without using them as simple shock tools.

People swear. People kill. The sky is blue. Water is wet. What’s true isn’t always right. Deadpool is an honest film for a Friday night (but not for the whole family – keep the little ones at home for this one).

Deadpool has always been a zany creature, even in the comic books. Writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, combined with Miller’s direction and Reynolds’s enthusiasm, were able to take that character off the pages and seamlessly transfer him to the big screen, with all his bits (big and small) still intact.

He’s not a hero—he’s the guy you pay to beat up your daughter’s stalker, the guy that leaves his ammo bag in the back of a cab, the guy that rescues cats in trees on a whim and flirts with Spider Man just because.

With Deadpool, it’s not a question of why—it’s a question of why not?

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