Subverting the Superhero: Deadpool Review

So my partner and I went to see this movie on the weekend:

You may have heard of it.

If you haven’t heard of Deadpool, he’s Marvel’s merc with a mouth and one of comic’s best kept secrets (until now, of course). He hails from the X-men universe, and has crossed over with almost as many people as his more famous counterpart, Wolverine. Deadpool (aka Wade Wilson) is a mercenary, ex-Canadian black ops, and was given his powers by a shady organization that promised to cure his terminal cancer. The procedure does cure his cancer, but gives him horrible scars and leaves him mentally unhinged. Comics Deadpool is a violent, foul-mouthed anti-hero with next to no morals and a billion and one wise-cracks. He’s one of Marvel’s most unconventional characters, and he is loved by many fans. In the film, Deadpool’s girlfriend is kidnapped by the aforementioned shady organization and he must use all of his violent skills and wise-cracking to save her.

This isn’t the first time that Deadpool “graced” the big screen. He also appeared in X-men Origins: Wolverine (2009). While the fans loved Ryan Reynolds’ portrayal of the character, some storytelling decisions were….well…really terrible. There’s no way around it. I’m not mad at you, X-men Origins: Wolverine. Just disappointed.

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As a massive X-men fan, and a Deadpool fan, I was looking forward to seeing the character redeemed. This time I was not disappointed. Good job, movie.

I’m going to try not to spoil the movie, because that would be unfair. There is one spoiler I will let slip through, though, because I think it’s awesome: Deadpool is from my hometown of Regina, Saskatchewan!

Regina

Was Deadpool a perfect movie? No. Was it a perfect Deadpool movie? It came damn close.

Let me explain. Deadpool’s general plot-line (man loves woman, man must save woman from bad guys) felt a little too formulaic. I would have liked to see the character’s unconventionality reflected in the plot-line that the writers chose to use. Of course, I understand the writers choice to stick to a familiar story–Deadpool himself is so odd and out there that I imagine the writers felt like they had to keep the story simple so that this wackiness could shine through. I understand, though it was a missed opportunity.

I would have also liked to see more call-backs to the X-men universe. I understand that the movie’s team would have wanted to distance themselves as much as possible from X-men Origins: Wolverine, but it should have been Weapon X that transforms Wade Wilson into Deadpool! That’s more of a nerd quibble than anything else.

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Deadpool is, at his core, subversive. He was created as a parody of the dark and gritty characters populating comics in the 90’s, and has been poking fun at anything and everything ever since. He’s He breaks the fourth wall and speaks directly to the audience. He recognizes that he’s in a comic book/fan fiction/movie/video game and will call out the writers. He is violent, sadistic and rude. And the movie nailed this. I can’t give too many examples of how this looks in the movie, but rest assured, it’s there. Lots of comics get this right. Whoop-dee-dee. He’s funny and violent, big whoop. What made this movie one of the best portrayals of Deadpool is that the movie made this character human.

A trait of the alpha-male comic book hero that many critics have called out is a lack of vulnerability. Deadpool can often veer into this too. However, this film shows Deadpool’s vulnerabilities. He’s insecure about how he looks after the procedure. He has affection for other characters, including his best male friend, Weasel, and his roommate, Blind Al. He also goes through horrible things and survives, but barely. He’s a human being.

This isn’t seen enough in comic book movies, and I was so happy to see it in Deadpool.

So was it a perfect movie? No, but it did give one of the most three dimensional portrayals of a comic book character that I’ve ever seen.

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God bless,

Kelsey J.

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