You’ve very probably seen Deadpool described as a “superhero movie with a twist”. It has the Marvel logo at the start, it features a guy in a colourful suit, and there’s an extra scene after the credits. But on the other hand, (just like the comic book) it’s more self-referential and meta than any other superhero movie you’ve seen. It has a lot of humour, and a lot of violence. From the first images of the opening credit sequence to the post-credit bonus scene, it pokes fun at itself and the superhero film genre in general. It was an unconventional situation: The movie was stuck in development hell for 11 years, and finally got greenlit when test footage leaked, and the fans on the internet went nuts. Its marketing campaign was a clever extension of the character’s sense of humour. Its opening weekend was an unexpected box office record breaker. It’ll probably inspire other R-rated superhero movies. Or out-of-the-box marketing campaigns. Or a ton of Ryan Reynolds movies.
But was the movie itself that out-of-the-box?
It’s genuinely funny, but not that funny. A lot of the jokes feel recycled or familiar, but the joke-per-minute ratio is higher than normal for superhero flicks. It had huge potential for self-referencial humour, but mostly focused on winking at Hugh Jackman’s portrayal of Wolverine. The mutants we see have very everyday, unspectacular powers. Wow, she’s really strong. He’s made of metal. She makes energy things.
Certain scenes were obviously done on a less-that-required CGI budget. And while hanging a lantern on the fact by making self-deprecating jokes can soften the blow, it doesn’t excuse it.
The action scenes were relatively mediocre and familiar. Except for the highway setpiece in the middle of the movie, which was exciting, despite suffering from the fast-paced, close-up, hard-to-decipher style of editing and cinematography, as popularised by Michael Bay films. And while this scene is memorable, exciting, and different, the climatic battle is the opposite. It has a dull, videogame-style setup, with the heroes pummelling through a corridor of generic bad guys while the overly and overtly evil antagonists are looking down from high ground. This showdown literally and probably very unintentionally reminded me of the climactic fight in the often-criticized X-men Origins: Wolverine.
Perhaps this was another case of a brilliant marketing campaign and word-of-mouth that over-hypes the film. It’s the kind of movie where all the best bits were in the trailers. And when expectations are so high, and you exit the cinema after a decent, albeit lower-budget action movie, you can’t help but feel disappointed. Still, if Ryan Reynold’s abs and gab, self-mocking humour and superhero action is your thing, Deadpool will probably be a very fun night at the cinema. Just don’t expect an earth-shatterer. But luckily, since this film turned out surprisingly successful (to the studio at least), they’ll probably have more money and more support to make the sequel as amazing as the best of them.
PS. Why was it never addressed that Colossus is suddenly Russian (as he was always supposed to be)? Or an aknowledgement that the love story (maybe the character itself?) is a Darkman ripoff?