I took a stand against comic book movies about a year ago, because I was fairly convinced they were not made for me, ergo not the target demo. So I have as much chance of liking the new whateverthefuck DC or Marvel thing as I do the new Justin Bieber album. Not made for me, if one ignores it, it won’t bother me.
Just to reinforce the point, they put a trailer for Captain America: Civil War on before Deadpool, and I thought – no need for that, looks like more of the same. And I had some measure of hope for there being an element of cool associated with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, until the trailer after Civil War, which looks again like much of the same (all a bit loud), except a large turd monster shows up at the end of it, and it shoots lasers out of its eyes or something. The Golgothan Shit Demon in Kevin Smith’s Dogma had covered that ground before, with jokes. An entire row of late-teen fan boys sitting behind me at the cinema gushed at this thing, “Doomsday,” they exclaimed. “Pass,” I thought.
But why see Deadpool? Why did this film in particular grab my interest? It’s something that has been superbly, cleverly marketed. This is a film that’s not taking itself even slightly seriously. Its winking-at-the-audience, fourth-wall-breaking shenanigans is such a major part of its reason to be that it actually looked good. And not just “the best bits of the film are in the trailer” good. Actually, genuinely amusing and good.
For the uninitiated, Deadpool as a character exists in the X-Men universe, and was a part of the first (and, you know, pretty awful) spin-off movie, X-Men Origins: Wolverine. In it, he was played by Ryan Reynolds, but they botched the character’s role and it was kind of naff, like the rest of that film. This ‘reinvention’, which places this off-kilter weirdo character front-and-centre has the significant advantage of playing to the strengths of this genre – humour, language, violence. It’s a comic book film which speaks the same language (visual, and spoken) as the key target demographic. That would be the row of fan boys sitting behind me, who swear, are not afraid of bloodshed, who like their ladies naked. Plenty of all that going around.
So, from the get-go, Deadpool is on the money – a smug-self-satisfied, self-referential parody, piss-take and demolition of superhero/comic book film adaptations which simultaneously brings out the best in what they have to offer. It does get super serious at times, but even then it’s as a lead up to gags. Ryan Reynolds has – finally – a vehicle that plays to his comedic strengths that have been hinted at, and yet never fully realised since he first made his mark in the sitcom Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place. While already well-known, this is the star-making vehicle he deserves.
Fun fact – I met the dude once. He was in Melbourne promoting Blade Trinity, and at the film’s post-screening after party at some club in South Yarra, I approached him (he’s large) and complemented him on the finest of line deliveries in that film.
“Which one?” he asked me.
“No it’s not, you horse-humping thunder-cunt!”
He nodded, smiled, thanked me, and moved on. We’ll always have that moment, Ryan Reynolds and me.
Films of this genre seem to be anodized, sanitized, watered-down things, designed to be flashy and colourful so that Chinese people can enjoy it en masse, and puritanical Americans can send their littl’uns to it without fear of having their morals corrupted. Deadpool skews from this, superbly, with relish, and a large middle finger extended to them who would keep things PG and safe. Like Kick-Ass (one of the very finest of all comic book films adapted to the big screen), it’s a film which is in it for the fun and does. Not. Give. A. Fuck.
Let us celebrate such filmic hedonism. More power to them.