Overall - 94%
It seemed Deadpool's day would never come, but that's no longer the case. Deadpool is the movie that every comics fan wanted it to be: Self-referential and deprecating, laden with gratuitous profanity, extremely violent and bloody, and unlike any other superhero movie to date. In a saturated genre, Deadpool stands out from the crowd while somehow still fitting into it. Moreover, Deadpool is, without question, the role Ryan Reynolds was born to play.
It’s Valentine’s Day Weekend 2016, which means that those of us who’ve had a hankerin’ for a bloody, violent, adults-only superhero film starring foul-mouthed joke-slinger Deadpool have finally had our dreams come true. Deadpool—which was released in the U.S. on Friday, February 12—is unlike any other Marvel movie we’ve seen to date. In face, it’s unlike any other comic book movie, period.
In a genre that’s decidedly and sometimes unrealistically PG-13 to accommodate viewers old and young, Deadpool lifts its “protagonist” (I use that word loosely) from the pages of one of Marvel’s most beloved and unique properties; obviously, I’m referring to titular character Deadpool, which is the masked-vigilante name of former Special Forces operative Wade Wilson.
From Page to Screen
Deadpool’s cinematic debut was a long time coming, having been in development hell since as far back as 2000. Meanwhile, fans of the comics begged for their beloved “merc with a mouth” to get his dues on the silver screen and were strongly supportive of the actor who’d been attached to the project since 2004: Ryan Reynolds.
Despite the occasionally announcement of a new screenwriter or some other development, it began to seem like a Deadpool movie was never going to happen, so Ryan Reynolds ended up playing a half-baked version of the character in X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), which showed Wade Wilson’s impressive sword-slinging abilities without the trademark costume and backstory; an A-lister in the Marvelverse was relegated to barely a secondary character.
There was apparently a brief moment when executives considered giving Reynolds his Deadpool movie via a spin-off from the Wolverine movie, but as we all saw, the terrible Wolverine origins story involved Deadpool being turned into a genetic-experiment-slash-villain at the end. In fans’ eyes, Fox had taken a steaming poo on Deadpool, blatantly disregarding what the fans were asking for. Adding salt to the wound, a couple years after the Wolverine flop some test footage showing Reynolds in the role leaked in 2012, driving fans wild with excitement as it basically showed them the exact version of the character that they wanted.
According to Reynolds and others attached to the movie, it was “100 percent” the fan reaction to the leaked footage (which you can watch right here) that was 20th Century Fox’s wake-up call, so they finally gave Deadpool the greenlight. It’s uncertain who was actually responsible for the leak—for a while, Reynolds thought it was the director himself, Tim Miller—and there was actually a long discussion between those involved in creating the test footage that one of them should leak it and force the studio’s hand, but someone came along and did it for them. Fox believes the leak to be an inside job, but beyond that the leaker is still at large, bless him. And due to the fan reaction to the test footage, it was recreated almost exactly in the final film.
Comparing his experiences on Deadpool to his previous superhero movie Green Lantern, Reynolds says that the major difference is in the quality of the writing. Green Lantern, which was very poorly received, didn’t even have an actual script until production began, but the script for Deadpool existed for several years before the first shots of the film were in the can. In fact, apparently the actual script of the filmed leaked and fan’s quickly approved of the faithful adaptation of the character. With the only other on-screen version being Reynolds’ appearance in the Wolverine catastrophe, this version of Deadpool would be bigger, better, and completely respectful of the source material, which was a major point of contention.
The character of Deadpool is unique in Marvel canon because the character is particularly self-aware, knows that he’s a character in a comic book and often addresses readers directly, which is known as breaking the fourth wall. However, Deadpool differs from other Marvel heroes—such as the Avengers and X-Men—in other, more basic ways. Specifically, the character has quite a foul mouth and a penchant for violence. And while most other heroes are averse to actually killing villains and would prefer to simply bring them to justice, Deadpool tracks down the bad guys and either cuts their heads off or puts bullets in their heads. And then there’s the fact that Deadpool is pansexual, which is the more worldly way of saying he’s sexual with others regardless of their gender.
This meant that for the movie to be totally faithful, it needed to have an R rating, which would also be the first movie in the superhero genre to be rated above a PG-13. Despite the hesitation of the studios, everyone involved soon realized that a PG-13 version of Deadpool would mean no profanity and only a fraction of the violence and death-related quips for which he’s known, and this would take them right back to the issue of giving fans a less-than-faithful, censored version of the character. Fortunately, it was eventually decided that after the characters long, difficult road to the big screen, if Deadpool is to finally get his own movie it should at least be done the right way.
Production and Cast of Deadpool
It was known fairly early into the production process that Deadpool wasn’t going to be getting the same level of funding that virtually any other superhero movie would get, which meant that the writers had to be strategic with the script. When you’re limited on budget, you can’t include characters that are super expensive to render as that would mean cutting corners and the finished product would suffer. As a result, characters like Cannonball, Garrison Kane, Wyre, and Cable—each of whom had been considered for inclusion as either villains or superhero cameos at one point or another—were cut from earlier versions of the script. Cable, in particular, was one that they’d wanted to include, but in addition to the budgetary constraints, the producers felt that the complicated partnership between Deadpool and Cable would be best suited to a potential sequel.
Attached to the project since 2004, Reynolds was confirmed, again, to be playing Wade Wilson/Deadpool in late 2014 around the time the film was confirmed. Shortly thereafter, Ed Skrein was cast as Ajax, Gina Carano was cast as Angel Dust, and Morena Baccarin was cast in an unknown role that was eventually revealed to be Vanessa Carlysle, Deadpool’s love interest. Also cast were T.J. Miller as Weasel, who’s a bartender and information Broker and the closest thing Wade Wilson has to a friend; relative newcomer Brianna Hildebrande as Negasonic Teenage Warhead, who’s a telepath and precognitive in the comics but has the ability of localized, controlled atomic detonation (similar to the comics villain Nitro) in Deadpool; and Leslie Uggams as Blind Al, Deadpool’s elderly and blind roommate with whom he shares a rather bizarre relationship. And although Daniel Cudmore had protrayed the character previously, he turned down the chance to reprise the role of Colossus because the studio wanted to hire a noted Russian voice actor to do the character’s speaking parts; therefore, the motion-capture for Colossus was done by stuntman Andre Tricoteux with Stefan Kapičić providing the character’s voice.
Production of Deadpool took place in Vancouver from March 23 to May 29, 2015, with some reshoots in November.
Deadpool Plot Overview
Told out of chronological order, Deadpool tells us the story—a love story, to be specific—about how former Special Forces operative-turned-mercenary becomes the red-masked antihero, Deadpool. Often addressing us (the audience) directly, Wade Wilson narrates his own story, filling us in on some of the details that may not be obvious and providing us with humorous commentary.
Early in the film, Wade meets the lovely Vanessa who informs him that she’s a prostitute; however, the two fall in love and spend roughly two years in cohabitative bliss before Wade learns that he’s got late-stage cancer pretty much everywhere. Although a mysterious, well-dressed man tracks him down and offers him a cure, it’s not until later when he begins thinking about forcing Vanessa to watch him wither away and die that he starts to consider the man’s offer. He packs a bag and leaves while Vanessa is asleep and goes to the address the man gave him.
When he arrives, Ajax and Angel Dust strap him to a gurney and inject him with a special serum that will cure his cancer and giving him superpowers by forcing activation of the latent mutant gene—the gene that gives the X-Men and other mutants their powers—that all humans carry; however, that can only be done by putting the body under so much stress that the gene activates out of biological desperation, sort of like forced evolution or cracking open a safe. Wade’s body initially resists their “procedures”, which get increasingly brutal. Finally, he mutates, but the activation of the mutant gene makes him horribly disfigured. Punishing Wade for his persistent wise-cracks and mockery, Ajax tells Wade that he’s been made a super-slave and that he could fix his disfigured appearance, but isn’t going to, so Wade escapes.
After the procedure, Wade is cancer-free with superhuman abilities, including being virtually immortal due to his ability to survive and heal almost any injury as well as increased strength, agility, and reflexes. Although he’s tempted to return to Vanessa, he wants to restore his “sexiness” first and get a little revenge, so he becomes Deadpool and begins his search for the only person who can fix him with the occasional assistance of a couple X-Men. When Ajax narrowly escapes Deadpool’s blade, Vanessa becomes a way to inflict a wound on Deadpool from which he can’t heal.
Deadpool Movie Review
The superhero genre has become a bit saturated. We’re closing in on being 10 years into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which will be pumping out three films per year from this point onward. And DC is also jumping on the shared-universe boat that they’re building atop Man of Steel. With more heroes and villains on the big screen than one could shake a superpowered fist at, now seems the perfect time for a little self-reverential, self-deprecating, self-aware satire. And no, I don’t mean we’re in need of Superhero Movie 2.
Deadpool is the perfect character with which to poke a little fun at the superhero genre of films. For instance, he makes several humorous remarks about Wolverine in the movie and toward the end of the movie he makes a comment about how the mansion always seems empty except for those two characters and the reason that only those two X-Men keep showing up is because the studio didn’t have the budget for more X-Men. At another point he mentions how messed up the timeline is in the X-Men movies and when those same two X-Men, Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead, are trying to take him to the mansion to answer to Professor Xavier, he says, “Which one? Patrick or McAvoy?”
The movie’s opening titles poke fun at how other superhero movies’ opening and closing title sequences always consist of slow-motion, close-up shots of various superhero-related objects. Instead of seeing close-ups of Thor’s hammer and Hawkeye’s bow, we’re seeing slow-motion macros during the crash sequence shown in the trailer. Meanwhile, the actual titles consist of “Hot Chick”, “Comedic Relief”, “A Gratuitous Cameo”, “A CGI Character”, and “British villain” instead of giving us any of the cast and crew’s actual names, while set to the tune of “Angel of the Morning”. The titles are a wink and a rib-poke because they list key elements of other superhero movies as well as elements of Deadpool itself; it’s making fun of other superhero films while also making fun of itself for relying on the same tropes and stereotypes that they do, and that’s a really unique and refreshing angle. There aren’t many films out there that poke fun at their own genre as well as at themselves for fitting into them.
It’s really no surprise that Deadpool‘s opening titles were so amusing and memorable. Although this was Tim Miller’s directorial debut, he’s known in Hollywood for his notable work on opening titles, go figure. In fact, Miller crafter the opening title sequences for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011) and Thor: The Dark World (2013).
Although Deadpool does make good on the hot chick and British villain it promises in the opening credits, that’s not to say that the film doesn’t sneak one or two heart-felt scenes, which—believe it or not—don’t feel out of place. The two scenes definitely exist on opposite ends of some emotional spectrum, but the more emotional scenes work because they’re abrupt and don’t linger, almost as if the film is consciously aware that it’s only by keeping this moments of emotional lucidity brief that they’ll work. And even during these emotional moments, there’s still a bit of relief, which usually comes in the form of Wade’s narration or his comments directed to the audience. Again, these cracks in the emotional moments through which a bit of humor peeks in help tie those moments to the rest of the movie. They also help to break up the rest of the movie a little bit, which would otherwise have no lull in the blood spatter.
The emotional moments of the movie exist for reasons other than the fact that they give us a frame of reference to which we can compare the humor of the rest of the film. They also help us to care about both Deadpool and Wade Wilson. With Deadpool in costume about 80 percent of the movie, it would be easy to simply write off Vanessa, but making those scene have some emotional impact made Wade’s reasons for his actions in the rest of the movie more meaning. It also helps to justify them to an extent as it would be difficult to even call him an antihero if he didn’t have such meaningful reasons for slicing so many people up. So many people, in fact, that the X-Men come along and stage an intervention.
There’s also the fact that, believe it or not, even on a basic level those scenes really worked and were believable. Despite having to condense the relationship between Vanessa and Wade into about three minutes, I could really relate to them. They were also a really cute, if unconventional, couple with their own “signature moments” with which they’ll probably always be identified. Case in point:
The emotional moments are what propel much of the rest of the film, which consists largely of sardonic violence and liberal profanity. In fact, while it may seem that Deadpool’s calling the movie a “love story” was merely a sarcastic joke, there’s definitely an argument to be made that Deadpool really does tell a love story—albeit an incredibly bloody one—since pretty much the entire movie is motivated by Baccarin’s character, Vanessa.
One of my favorite things about Deadpool is that we get a character that’s so unlike any other headlining hero in the genre. In fact, it’s difficult to call Deadpool a hero—and he even says multiple times throughout the film that he’s not a hero and isn’t concerned about being noble or valiant—as he doesn’t really resort to violence, but is rather eager to dish violence out. It would be interesting to watch the movie again and count all the people he killed, and then compare that number to the likes of Captain America, Iron Man, and the X-Men.
Speaking of the X-Men, I feel that it’s a really good idea to incorporate Deadpool into the X-Men universe in spite of his potty mouth and penchant for decapitation. These days, it’s all about those shared movie universes, and having Deadpool be part of an established universe just adds another layer for fans and audiences. Although there were only two X-Men in Deadpool, they chose some really cool ones. Colossus made for a really unique and striking character, just walking around being all made of metal and trying to talk Deadpool out of barbaric acts of violence. Interestingly, in the comics Colossus is the brother of the character Magick, and while I won’t go into details about that character here, she’s a really really awesome character and I would be interested to see how she’d translate to film if they ever decide to include her.
The other X-Man had probably the most awesome superhero alias ever: Negasonic Teenage Warhead. In the comics, her powers were mostly non-visual, but in Deadpool she has the power to set of localized atomic explosions like she’s pushing out a pulse or wave from her body. It made for incredible visuals, plus her character is the too-cool-for-school, semi-hipster teen, which provided Deadpool with tons of comedic ammunition. I just really hope we see more of Negasonic Teenage Warhead in the future.
As far as what I didn’t like about Deadpool, there’s really not much. The only major issue that I have is with regard to how the plot isn’t totally in chronological order. Sometimes nonlinear storytelling can be incredibly effective, and it was mostly effective here. They surely did they best they could given all the material that they needed and wanted to include in the movie, which—like any origin story translated into film—meant that there was just as much background to cover as there was action to show. If the plot was linear, the first half of the movie might have been boring while the second half blew us away; in other words, there would’ve been no balance, and the movie definitely would have suffered for that.
However, it felt to me like there were just a few too many jumps back and forth between the “current” time (when we see him in the taxi) and when Wade is explaining how he met Vanessa and got his mutant abilities and bringing us up to that point. Again, in their defense, I don’t think there was anyway of getting around some type of problem here. If they’d put it all in chronological order, the first half would have been too drab and emotional and all the action—which, let’s be honest, is what everyone came for—would’ve been at the end. By switching back and forth, they could juxtapose the high-intensity action with the more emotional moments, which was more about integrating those heartfelt moments so that they didn’t detract from the movie than about breaking up the action. So it definitely makes sense, and my issue with it is much more minor than it probably seems. In all fairness, part of it was probably my excitement and eagerness to see more of the action scenes.
The other issue that I had, really only a small gripe, is with the villain, Ajax. He just didn’t really feel all that threatening, partly because we see him rather quickly and easily subdued earlier in the film, but he gets away. Then the final battle between Ajax and Deadpool is suddenly not so quick and easy, so it just felt a little contrived. Plus, the character of Ajax had apparently gone through the same procedure, developing an inability to feel any physical pain or emotion, and a level of elevated strength. However, I feel like having some other villain would have made for a more compelling viewing experience than it was to watch Deadpool fight a guy who couldn’t feel pain and didn’t really care if he died. I’m sure it was a matter of budget, though, as there were other villains tied to the script earlier in development.
A Deadpool Sequel?
Adding another level of self-deprecating humor, a post-credits sequence showed Deadpool in a bath robe, making a comment about other superhero films’ super-important post-credits scenes. However, we’re then treated to a second scene in which Deadpool confirms that he’ll be getting a sequel, and that in the sequel we’ll be seeing Cable.
If you’re not “in the know”, Cable is a rather interesting fellow. Born to Scott Summers/Cyclops and a clone of Jean Grey, Cable—whose birth name is actually Nathan Summers—was infected with an obscure techno-organic virus, so he was sent to the future to a time when he could be cured. Next thing you know, he comes back from the future as Cable, a big, hulking man with a bionic arm, a bionic eye, telekinesis, telepathy, technopathy (controls electronics), the latent ability to travel through time, and is an expert marksman.
Although the studio executives said there was potential for the film to get a sequel if it performed well, it was reported early last week before the nationwide Deadpool release that the script for the sequel was already being written. Aside from confirmation of Cable, Reynolds has expressed interest in making as many Deadpool sequels as he can. As for what he hopes to include in future installments, Reynolds would like to see more of an integration of Deadpool in the X-Men’s universe, and also to explore X-Force, which has been a prominent part of Deadpool’s comics storylines.
Interestingly, while the character of Vanessa Carlysle was lifted from the comics, her comics counterpart notably had the mutant power of shapeshifting and went by the alias Copycat. Obviously, Vanessa didn’t have the power to shapeshift in this first installment, but it’s worth noting that the comics’ version of Vanessa had a superhuman ability as Deadpool transitions from film to franchise.
Deadpool Movie Review: A Final Word
To sum everything up, Deadpool is an incredibly fun, entertaining movie that came at the perfect time. Although I’ve enjoyed many superhero movies, I’d be blind if I didn’t say that they’re kind of formulaic: Reluctant hero rises to the occasion when his hot chick becomes a damsel in distress. Then there’s the many additional components that seem to always be present (re: refer to the Deadpool opening title sequence), so it’s hard to argue with many of the people who tend to dismiss superhero movies because most of them are like Mad Libs, each movie filling in the blanks with different character names.
Interestingly, Deadpool shows both an awareness of superhero tropes that seem overdone in the genre’s growing list of movies while also utilizing them and poking fun of itself. In effect, it’s showing audiences that superhero movies can be different and strike a different tone, even while using many of the same components that are commonly used in other films. Therefore, Deadpool is both the movie that fans wanted and the movie that audiences needed, helping to liberate the superhero genre from its stereotype and prevent it from growing stale by proving us that there’s still a lot of things left to see and that it still has some tricks up its sleeves.
As for Deadpool himself, it’s pretty obvious that there’s not another character like him, not in any superhero movie we’ve yet seen. Giving Deadpool his dues in the form of an R-rated movie gave him the breathing room he needed to be himself and command out attention. I also feels like he’s paving the way for a new type of superhero movie, one that’s more adult-oriented and can appeal to lovers of different types of action movies and comedies. In effect, Deadpool himself and the overall movie can appeal to a much larger audience that merely the same people who’s want to see Thor 3 on opening night.
The news of a confirmed Deadpool sequel couldn’t make me happier. I’m very interested to see where the character goes from here. The stereotypes of sequels will certainly provide the character with fourth-wall-breaking quips. It’s sure to be a long wait until we actually get to see a second movie starring the merc with a mouth, but there’s comfort in the fact that Deadpool will remain very much alive for the foreseeable future.
At the box office, Deadpool raked in a record-breaking $12.7 million during Thursday night’s midnight opening. Yesterday, which was the film’s official release date and first full day of showings, Deadpool brought in $47.5 million at the box office, breaking opening-day records for an R-rated release and for an R-rated February release, which was previously held by Fifty Shades of Grey. Current projections indicate that Deadpool will break $100 million by the end of its first weekend, which is significantly higher than pre-release estimates of $65-70 million and would give Deadpool the highest opening-weekend box office for any R-rated film ever.
Deadpool Slaughters the Box Office
(Updated on Monday, Feb. 15, 2016) The numbers are still trickling in; however, it’s been confirmed that Deadpool not only performed way better than expected, but it also blew past the adjusted projection of $100 million by making $132.7 million over the course of its opening weekend, giving it the no. 1 biggest box office return for an R-rated film’s opening weekend that we’ve yet seen. It’s also the first R-rated opening to cross the $100 million mark, the biggest February debut ever, the 8th-biggest non-summer debut of all time, and the 17th best opening weekend for any movie of any rating ever*.
Additionally, it’s the best opening weekend that 20th Century Fox has ever seen, bigger than any of the X-Men films to date as well as any of the first six Star Wars films they produced. In terms of superhero movies, Deadpool had the 7th-biggest opening weekend, behind only the two Avengers movies, two of Christopher Nolan’s three Dark Knight movies, Iron Man 3, and Spider-Man 3. If you’re looking at non-sequel movies only, Deadpool had the 3rd-biggest opening weekend after such films as The Avengers and The Hunger Games with Man of Steel, the most recent Superman movie, in 4th place. Yes, Deadpool out-performed Superman.
Deadpool now also holds the record for the largest Friday-to-Sunday debut on a holiday weekend, which was previously held by Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End ($114 million). The movie is projected to reach or even pass the $150 million mark for the entire four-day holiday weekend, which will put it above any previous five-day Thanksgiving week debut by roughly $40 million since the biggest opening for that period is current The Hunger Games: Catching Fire at $109 million. If Deadpool passes the $150 million mark, Deadpool‘s four-day debut will be close to matching or beating the five-day debut of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull ($151 million) and barely fall short of the $156 million record that Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End currently holds for its Memorial Day Weekend debut in 2007.
Having made an estimated $150 million overseas, it’s quite possible that Deadpool—which was this close to being stuck in development hell forever—will have a $300 million global box office return for it’s opening weekend. Initially expected to make no more than $70 million, Deadpool has gone to shatter many records and goes to show that even the unlikeliest and raunchiest of characters will get his dues eventually. Of course, it helps when the fans simply wouldn’t take “No” for an answer.
*These figures and statistics were originally reported by Forbes.