Review - Deadpool

Deadpool (2016), R, 108 minutes - This past week marked the 25th Anniversary of Deadpool's creation in the pages of The New Mutants #98 by Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza.  In that time the wise-cracking, gun-and-sword toting, mercenary has become one of Marvel's most popular and widely recognized characters.  A Deadpool film starring Ryan Reynolds has been in the works for years, but took a back seat after the debacle that was 2009's X-Men Origins: Wolverine.  Reynolds portrayed the character in that film, and his take on Wade Wilson was pitch perfect, unfortunately the script took a turn for the worse and produced a virtually unrecognizable version of his alter-ego Deadpool.  In the years since, rumors of a solo film popped up off and on, but nothing came of it until about a year and a half ago when test footage of an action sequence leaked to the web, causing an avalanche of support and demand for the film.  Fox finally green-lit the project (Deadpool falls under the X-Men property umbrella), kept Reynolds in place in what may be the most perfect comic book movie casting ever, and even followed through with an appropriately R-rated film.  

What did they call Shaun of the Dead?  A romantic-comedy with zombies?  Well with Deadpool, director Tim Miller, presents a similar genre mash-up: a romantic-comedy buried deep within a vengeful action flick.  Wade Wilson (Reynolds) is a mercenary, but not the sort you would typically think of.  He prefers jobs that are good-natured at their core, such as convincing a stalker that continued sketchy activity would be bad for him.  After falling in love with Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), the woman of his dreams, Wade is diagnosed with terminal cancer of the everything.  She begins searching for treatments but instead of putting her through the pain of watching him die a slow death, he leaves her.  Feeling like he has no where else to go, he decides to take part in a program that promises to cure his cancer as well as turning him into a super hero.  As it turns out, the program is an illegal, off-the-books type whose actual purpose to is create super soldiers via cruel experimentation to then be sold to the highest bidder.  After being inspected, injected, and tortured, his cancer is cured but Wade is left horribly disfigured.  He escapes his captors and swears vengeance on those who turned him into a monster: Ajax (Ed Skrein) and Angel Dust (Gina Carano).

Deadpool is full of bad-assery, wise-assery, and far too many pop culture references to list, just as his best tales from the comics are.  The on-screen chemistry between Ryan Reynolds and Morena Baccarin is what really packs a punch though.  It strangely grounds Wilson's over-the-top quest of vengeance and provides a relate-able plot thread for most in this seemingly oddly placed Valentine's Day weekend release.

Some of the films put out by other studios involving Marvel properties have been less than faithful to any source material (X-Men Origins: Wolverine being a prime example), but this time around, Fox absolutely nailed it, all the way down to Wade's breaking the fourth wall (he is aware that he's in a film and addresses the crowd directly on a number of occasions).  The action sequences are great - they even included a polished version of the leaked test footage - and Deadpool's personal interactions with both friend and foe alike are spot on, especially those with Vanessa, Weasel (T.J. Miller), Blind Al (Leslie Uggams), and X-Men Colossus (voiced by Stefan Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand).  There's even a diverse selection of music (what other film can seamlessly incorporate Salt-N-Pepa's "Shoop", DMX's "X Gonna Give It to Ya", and Wham!'s "Careless Whisper", among others?).

Deadpool is rated R, so parents, please, please use discretion when determining whether or not to allow your child to see this film.  This is definitely not a 'drop the kids at the theater for the afternoon' type of flick.  It's sort of a cross between a Kevin Smith and a Quentin Tarantino film: Smith-like crude humor with a dash of Tarantino-esque violence.  That being said, I absolutely loved this big screen incarnation of the character.  It couldn't have been more true to the essence of the comics.  Whether you're a Deadpool fan or not, there really is a little something for everyone in this film (as long as you're not offended by crude language and/or moments of explicit violence).  The comedic tone and underlying love story more than offset those moments, which makes Deadpool an extremely fun film.  It is smashing the previous Valentine's/President's Day Weekend opening Box Office record and they have already announced that a sequel is in the works (more on that in the spoiler section below), so Deadpool's got that going for him...which is nice.

*Both Red Band Trailers are shown here as they provide a more accurate depiction of what the film is than the standard trailers do.


- Stick around for the post credits scene which is pretty entertaining.  Deadpool riffs on the "You're still here?" bit from the end of Ferris Bueller's Day Off and then cracks that they didn't have the budget to show any sort of footage from a sequel but even though they haven't cast anyone yet, Cable will be included.  Very exciting news for any fan of the comics as the two characters have been linked since their creations (both created by Rob Liefeld).  Actor Stephen Lang is already campaigning for the role online.  I personally think he'd be a great fit for the part.

- The pre-film credits role as descriptions of those included in the film as opposed to their actual names.

- There are a couple of nods to Deadpool creator Rob Liefeld in the film.  In the opening sequence, the name Rob L. appears on a coffee cup.  Not long after, he appears in a cameo in Weasel's bar, with Wade acknowledging him as he walks by.

- Liefeld receives the majority of the credit for creating Deadpool, but the man credited with co-creating the character (he wrote Deadpool's first appearance in The New Mutants #98) was Fabian Nicieza.  His name can be seen on two street signs in the background of the massive wreck caused by Deadpool's ambush on Ajax's men (based on the leaked test footage).

- In keeping with the fourth wall breaking nature of the comics, Wade/Deadpool makes a number of meta comments, the best of which poke fun at Ryan Reynolds' previous turn in the failed Green Lantern film from 2011 and the aforementioned failure that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine, including an action figure of that version of Deadpool found in Wade's apartment.

- At one point, Colossus says that they are going to talk to the Professor and Deadpool replies "Which one?  Stewart or McAvoy?  These timelines are so confusing!", referencing Patrick Stewart and James McAvoy, who have both portrayed Professor Xavier in other X-Men films.

- Colossus is portrayed differently in this film than in prior X-Men films, but his inclusion, along with Negasonic Teenage Warhead and Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters (and the Professor X comments) help tie this film to the existing X-Men universe.

- Bob!!!  Those familiar with the Cable & Deadpool (2004) era of the comics will recognize henchman Bob.  In the comics he was an Agent of HYDRA (who only joined the villainous group because of the good benefits package) and becomes a sidekick of sorts for Deadpool.  Here he is one of Ajax's goons (because Fox does not hold the film rights to HYDRA) and was a former associate of Wade's from his special forces days.

- Stan Lee cameo!  This may be the best Stan Lee cameo in a film for a Marvel character yet - he's the announcer in the strip club.

- When Wade is getting wheeled into the first of many procedures/torture sessions, we see the back of a character with spikes poking out of their back in all directions.  Considering this takes place in the X-Men universe, one could imagine that this may be Marrow.  This probably isn't too much of a leap either because of her inclusion in X-Force in the comics, which has been another long rumored addition to the X-Men film universe from Fox.

- Just one of a number of pop culture references (too many to list, and I'm sure I missed some), Deadpool loads up his collection of guns for the final showdown in a Hello Kitty bag.  He also makes a number of references to Voltron.

- The ship that Ajax is holed up in at the end of the film looks very similar to a S.H.I.E.L.D. heli-carrier.  It may just be a dry-docked aircraft carrier, but is similar enough to make one wonder.  With S.H.I.E.L.D. being a Marvel property, Fox wouldn't have the rights to call it that, but it seems implied that it may be decommissioned and taken over by baddies.


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