Deadpool could have been worse. It could have been better. But this is not a place for aimless thumbs up or down or to the side reviews – this is a place for critique. And there is A LOT to critique in Deadpool.
You look like Freddy Kruger face-fucked a topographical map of Utah.
You may have heard a lot about Deadpool without actually knowing anything about Deadpool. Consider me your compatriot. I am not a consumer of comic books (save the Alan Moore graphic novel or two), and I could not have told you before the previews for this movie whether Deadpool was a Marvel or DC creation, what made him super, or what was with the full coverage red body suit.
But I found myself in the theatre this week because I had heard no less than ten interesting things about Deadpool, one of which involved a scene wherein our superhero gets “pegged” (more on that later).
Color me intrigued. Perhaps this would provide me the relief I so sorely needed after Christopher Nolan’s hyper-serious Batman plague (sorry, Nolan fans – this is where we break up).
As for rumors of pansexuality and progressive sexual politics, let me burst that bubble for you quick: Deadpool’s not much more than the very best frat jokes, all rolled together. Sure, he’s free with his words and unafraid to suggest homoerotic interests, but it’s all done in jest.
It is sometimes hard to tell whether Deadpool is the most sexually free superhero ever to grace the screen, or the most homophobic and sexually repressed.
He’s the kind of fellow who makes so many jokes, it’s impossible to tell their true psychological undertone. Does he mean them? Is he just being coy? Is he hiding his fear in his outlandish sense of humor? (Questions I ask myself everyday) Either way, he is surely one of the most interesting, and the most fun, comic book creations to show up in a very long time.
Deadpool is also a Rom-Com.
If you’ve seen some of the more clever marketing, you’ll know the filmmakers want you to think this. And, if we’re being honest, it is. Wade Wilson (Deadpool’s alter ego) is in love with a woman. They spend lots of time on-screen falling in love. That woman is taken away from him (in more ways than one). He has to fight to win her back. There are, as discussed, many jokes. Romantic. Comedy.
But is it a chick flick? Like our discovery about Notting Hill, Deadpool is not a woman’s fantasy, but a man’s. A fantasy that involves curing cancer, immortality, a girlfriend that loves kinky sex and mistakes your marriage proposal for… something way more interesting, and getting sweet, sweet revenge on the tool that fucked up your face. However – if you, chick, have a fantasy that involves kicking ass, having wild sex with someone you’re in love with, making crass jokes, and ultimately being a rogue X-Men (X-Man? What’s the singular on that?), then YES, this is a chick flick. Even Ryan Reynolds on the press tour said it: “I think the action and the humor is what appeals to women, you know, the same thing [as men].”
But, speaking of that fucked-up face:
Deadpool’s #1 enemy is vanity.
Here’s the most interesting thing about this movie (to me, anyway).
Does Wade really believe Vanessa doesn’t love him enough to accept his new appearance? This is a main contention of the plot – that Wade can’t possibly go back to Vanessa after he has been “altered,” because he’s hideously, hideously, hideously ugly.
Sure, he’s not looking his best, but he’s not unrecognizable, nor is he inhuman. He’s Ryan Reynolds, for God’s sake. He’s still got the personality, sense of humor, nice ass… And surely, Vanessa will be more than happy with the inexplicable curing of her fiancé’s terminal cancer?
But that’s the thing –
Wade’s vanity, and therefore Deadpool’s raging vanity, is both the butt of a joke and the truth of the matter.
Appearance in Wade’s reality is everything. Once the good looks are taken from him, they’re really his everything; the only thing more striking than a modelesque face is one covered in craters and burns. Appearance, whether frightening passersby with his wounds, or covering up in a head-to-toe spandex get-up with no holes to breathe, speak, or see, is all that there is to Deadpool. He is obsessed with it. And it, and the desire to correct that, possesses him.
Who does he let see him? His elderly blind landlady. His nerdy friend Weasel. Ajax, when he wants him to see the damage he’s done to him. And that’s it. Because he’s afraid of himself.
The most poignant moment for me is the scene where he first follows Vanessa home after his “change.” He plans to reveal himself to her, but he can’t. As he walks down the street, people stop and stare – not in a subtle way, but a slow-motion, mouths gaping, horrific sort of way. Thing is, I don’t think that’s really happening.
Like a bad vision, or bad dream, Wade sees things in a hyper-reality that is far more pigmented, alive, and brutal than how things really are. That’s why Deadpool is such a cartoon of a character: he’s larger than life. Are these people really that aghast at how Wade looks underneath the cover of his hoodie? Or is this just what his vain obsession causes him to see? I vote for the latter. Because male or female, vanity controls us all.
If only he had enjoyed the pegging (for the uneducated, this kind of pegging). Now that would have been progressive/feminist/impressive.
That said, I like that scene, and the Calendar Girl-accompanied montage. Watching two people fall in love through a year’s worth of sexual encounters, with varying degrees of “normality” is funny, oddly adorable, and realistic. In fact, the way this movie manages to characterize sex as a totally un-shameful, casual act is something it should pride itself on.
Other Things to Notice:
Do my ear’s deceive me? No “bitch, please.” No “little bitches.” No bitch. In a movie with a character who seems like exactly the type to use “bitch” as a casual expletive, I don’t remember it happening. No bitch. No bitch at all.
Negasonic Teenage Warhead is the coolest name ever.
Just in case you think I’m giving this a five-star review, please don’t. Some of the jokes work. A lot more of them fall flat. But that’s to be expected in a film that runs every joke it knows past you in a ninety minute span of time. The CGI is often terrible. The “meta” tone and breaking of the fourth wall is a bit hokey at best. But you know what? It’s good. And there is truly never going to be another actor who can play this character like Ryan Reynolds. So, for Deadpool, I think, it’s as good a time as any.
*Deadpool is currently in theaters.
If You Like it, Watch:
Okay, bear with me. This is not just because of the Freddy Krueger’s face reference (only a little), but has two-fold reasoning behind it. 1) Freddy Krueger is Deadpool’s horror equivalent. The franchise had hard-R ratings, but still marketed its toys to kids under twelve. He was the comic relief to a genre overrun with super-serious slashers. Deadpool is that for the comic movie universe. 2) The black-sheep of the franchise, Freddy’s Revenge is an accidental cult-masterpiece,widely recognized as the “gay” Nightmare. Deadpool’s far more intentional, but the sex jokes in the middle of a mainstream studio film? Similar effect.
The serious choice, I suppose. Of all the superhero/comic movies in the last several years, this was my favorite. This is Disney-Marvel (not Fox-Marvel, like Deadpool), so it’s a lot sweeter. But its earnestness combined with hulking red evil Nazi agents makes for an excellent time. It’s got a great sense of tonality – somewhere between campy and quite serious.
Some of you will spit your coffee at me over this. Most of you will say, huh? My mother will be thrilled, because this is her favorite superhero movie, and it is most certainly one of the most underrated. Like Deadpool here, Spawn has undergone some sinister changes himself (namely, going to Hell and back). But we’re actually watching this for John Leguizamo (aka Clown/Violator).
Want in on the February Challenge?
Start with the first post – All That Jazz is a Chick Flick
Check out previous picks, like yesterday’s critique of not-so-chick-flick Notting Hill.
*This post contains affiliate links – I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Of course, I stand by every film, dvd, or book I link you to, and hope you’re cool with this – if not, don’t click!*