For many fans, a big-screen version of Deadpool that wasn't awful seemed like a pipe dream for a very long time. The beloved character has only grown in popularity over the years in the comics world, but that success didn't seem to translate to the big screen. Director Gavid Hood and his team completely butchered the character in the widely despised X-Men: Origins- Wolverine, closing the mouth of the profane and witty assassin and completely betraying the heart and soul of Wade Wilson. Origins star Ryan Reynolds and the fans continued to press Fox for an R-rated version that stayed true to the character that Rob Liefield created, but Fox avoided it at all costs. Thankfully, someone (maybe Reynolds, maybe not Reynolds) leaked test footage of a violent Deadpool movie proposed to Fox and it unleashed a fan uproar. Fox had no choice and they finally gave Deadpool the green light.
And so far, Fox's decision has paid off. The first major R-rated superhero movie in years has made $516 million worldwide, with $250 million alone in the US. It had the 17th highest grossing weekend of all time and the highest grossing weekend ever for an R-rated film. It has made more money than any other X-Men film. By all accounts, Deadpool is an absolute juggernaut. But honestly, this really shouldn't be a surprise. Because in addition to the pent-up demand and the wonderful marketing campaign, Deadpool is a fantastic movie. Unconventional in its structure, Deadpool utilizes the classic superhero origin story to become what is probably the most meta comic book movie ever made- and that's a good thing. With a fantastic performance from Reynolds, a script that will have you laughing for days, and a bit of the ol' ultra-violence, Deadpool is the breath of fresh air that the comic book genre desperately needs.
Deadpool (Reynolds) is on a mission. He's after someone on his "naughty list" as he tells his cab driver, Dopinder (Karan Soni). Armed with an arsenal of knives and guns, Deadpool is on the hunt for the notorious Ajax (Ed Skrein), who he simply refers to as Francis. Ajax permanently scarred him and ruined his life and Deadpool is gonna take his revenge. But first, we gotta flash back to the beginning of this wild story.
Deadpool isn't necessarily a revolutionary take on the archetypal superhero origin story. The circumstances for Wade Wilson are a little different, but the basic tale is the same. So in that case, why are audiences flocking to Deadpool in such massive droves? I think it's a combination of factors. With the inundation of costumed hero films in the market today, my guess is that audiences were really interested in something that was tongue-in-cheek and incredibly self-aware. But more than that, Deadpool is a testament to the power of passion. It's clear from watching the movie that Reynolds, director Tim Miller and screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick are all passionate about the character of Deadpool. This movie doesn't feel like a soulless corporate product. It feels like a group of enthusiastic individuals got together with $58 million dollars and made a movie completely outside of the studio system. Audiences are responding to that idea and thus, we have the first megahit of 2016.
Reynolds is the other reason that this movie works so well. The charismatic and appealing actor has toiled in the gutters of Hollywood for so many years with very little reward. His most successful movie was probably The Proposal, and his forays into the superhero genre (Green Lantern, Origins) were met with vehement hatred from fans. Even his well-received indie movies like Mississippi Grind and Buried weren't seen by anybody. So Deadpool works as a bit of a redemption story. After years of failure, Reynolds has finally found his iconic hero. Reynolds and Wade Wilson is a match made in heaven and he so thoroughly fits the character that it's impossible to see anybody else in the role. The supporting cast (led by Ed Skrein, Morena Baccarin and TJ Miller) is great, but every scene in Deadpool is improved by the smirking sarcasm of Reynolds. It's a hilarious performance that will come to define his career in the coming years.
The action is also pretty wild. Although it's not nearly as violent as you might expect, Deadpool still takes things to a level that we've never seen before in a heroic action movie. Even with the occasionally juvenile tone, Deadpool doesn't skimp on the blood and guts. Heads roll, blood spills, brain matter splatters across the screen- this is the real deal. And yet, the violence never feels like it's overdone. Reading that you're probably thinking "What? How can decapitation and savage murders not be too much?" Well, Deadpool is no more vicious than Taken or the first Wolverine movie. It's a revenge narrative that is just a little more open about depicting the repercussions of the on-screen carnage. What results is a sort of happy medium- it's violent enough that the fans will be satisfied, but never so graphic that casual moviegoers would be turned off.
Deadpool is unique and fresh, but also very familiar and sweet. It takes the superhero origin story and twists and turns it into a stylish, cartoony and dazzling creation. In a fundamental way, that's the reason that it works so very well. It isn't good because it's R-rated or because there were a lot of sex jokes. Deadpool works because it turns the genre completely on its head in a movie fueled by the pure passion of the filmmmakers. It's a movie that strikes a perfect tone, and is energized by a soundtrack and an attitude that just can't be paralleled in any way. Hollywood will try to replicate this success, but it just ain't gonna happen- this is a one-of-a-kind film. Bolstered by the charm of Reynolds, the supporting cast, a phenomenal script and a deft directorial touch from Tim Miller, Deadpool is a new superhero classic. It's a movie that is so completely in love with itself that you can't help but love it too.
THE FINAL GRADE: A- (8.5/10)