Deadpool (2016) is directed by Tim Miller and stars Ryan Reynolds as the mutant-empowered Wade Wilson (aka the titular character). The film's greatest strength is its comedic quips and keen meta-awareness of its existence as a movie and a genre.
Those familiar with Deadpool from Marvel comics know of his identity as a hyper aware fictional character. He frequently comments on the boundaries of his frame, pop culture, and even references the onomatopoeia art. Every minute of the Deadpool film is filled with similar wit, with Reynolds taking shots at himself as a character, himself as an actor, the decision process of franchise-making studios, and even other superhero films in the Marvel universe. While also being a superhero (anti-hero) film, Deadpool takes cliche superhero staples, upends them, and comments on their absurdity.
One of my favorite moments comes when Deadpool visits the X-Men mansion seeking their aid. Upon discovering that only Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead are present, he comments that the reason is that the studio probably couldn't afford to pay for more prominent X-Men to appear in the film - which is probably true. The dialogue itself is quick, witty, and crude. Compared to the other characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Deadpool leaps off the screen with his humor and comedic repartee.
However, no matter how Deadpool distances itself from typical superhero movies, the film falls into the same tired cinematic tropes that render it safe, predictable, and boring. Actions scenes bludgeon the viewer with unintelligible, frantic shots that try to create power, agility and force, but ultimately mask uninspired fight choreography. Deadpool's regenerative factor is also his downfall - dramatically speaking. Great stories come from vulnerable characters with something at stake. We quickly learn that he is essentially invincible, able to recover from any wound and able to regenerate full body parts. Whether Deadpool is fighting one person, or one hundred, the stress (it wasn't that much) I felt was equal, which makes for dull cinema. His main weaknesses is the fear of losing the love of his life, Vanessa (played by Morena Baccain), not losing his own - a weakness similar to other male superheroes, which I don't particularly condone because its unconscious insinuation that men are weakened by emotional vulnerability.
I would've liked more depth in other characters. The most interaction Deadpool has is with his girlfriend, Vanessa, and even she is relegated to a role of edgy, but ultimately stereotypical-love-interest-who-needs-saving. The villain has no other motive other than sadism. Supporting characters exist to move the plot forward (which Deadpool directly comments at various points.) I acknowledge that it's difficult to create depth for cAharacters when Deadpool is so decidedly "4D" - breaking fourth walls while breaking fourth walls to create "16th walls" is not uncommon; when compared with a 4D character, even 3D characters seem flat.
However these concerns don't take away from a solid Marvel movie. The feeling of enjoyment and novelty I felt was second only to 2014's Guardians of the Galaxy. Irreverent, hilarious, violent and rule-breaking, Deadpool is a refreshing Marvel anti-hero (and anti-mainstream) film that occasionally retreats to the tired tropes of its fellow superhero films. But at least Deadpool is willing to laugh at those shortcomings and let us relish in their absurdity.
Find the film here.
All images courtesy of Marvel.