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Arts in Review

Superhero? Antihero? Whatever he is, Deadpool works

Twenty-five years after his first appearance in a Marvel comic (New Mutants #98), Deadpool has exploded onto the big screen in a big way.

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By Kat Marusiak (The Cascade) – Email

Deadpool

Fans have been waiting to see the “Merc with a Mouth” get his own movie for a long time now, and the wait has proven worth it. Twenty-five years after his first appearance in a Marvel comic (New Mutants #98), Deadpool has exploded onto the big screen in a big way.

After being sidelined in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Ryan Reynolds returns to the role he was practically made for, absolutely nailing his portrayal of Wade Wilson, an ex-Special Forces operative turned mercenary who falls in love with a escort named Vanessa Carlysle (Morena Baccarin). After discovering he has cancer, Wade eventually turns to a shady organization (known to fans of the comics as “Weapon X”) offering him a potential cure. But — of course — they have a hidden agenda, and the terrible, painful procedures performed on him by Francis Freeman, a mutant also known as Ajax (Ed Skrein), ultimately leave him with incredible healing / regenerative abilities rendering him practically immortal.

Unfortunately, he is also left horribly scarred and disfigured in the process — or, as his best friend Weasel (T.J. Miller) describes it to him, “You look like Freddy Krueger face-fucked a topographical map of Utah.”

Left for dead by his enemies, Wade takes Weasel’s advice and dons a disguise, becoming the regenerating degenerate known as Deadpool, ready to track down Ajax and hopefully fix his face. (A “dead pool” being a game where players bet on odds concerning the death of a person or multiple people.)

However, Vanessa is kidnapped, and suddenly, Wade isn’t just looking for revenge, but also to save the woman he loves, while simultaneously fighting the fear that she may not want him any more after what he has become.

There had been some fear among fans of the comic books that the filmmakers (director Tim Miller and screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Warnick) might choose to heavily censor the movie adaptation in order for it to have a low enough rating for children in order to cash in on the genre’s popularity. However, the series has never been intended — or even appropriate — for children, as the adult subject matter and Deadpool’s foul-mouthed, cynical sense of humour have always been an integral part of the story and character, and thankfully the film’s creators chose to stay true to the source material.

Deadpool was originally introduced as a villain before becoming the unorthodox antihero we now know, a character that flaunts his less-than-classy behaviour, wise-cracking wit, and love of gratuitous violence.

And in case any viewers were still somehow unaware of this before watching, Deadpool has always been notable for this ability to break the fourth wall — he is portrayed as being fully aware that he is, in fact, a fictional character, acknowledging this through constant references and direct addresses. As he states during the film: “You’re probably thinking, ‘This is a superhero movie, but that guy in the suit just turned that other guy into a fucking kebab.’ Surprise! This is a different kind of superhero story.”

This “comic awareness” is a rather uncommon trait for comic book characters, and the writers did a fantastic job of utilizing it for comedic impact, with Deadpool intermittently narrating and offering commentary throughout the film. Reynolds himself commented on why he thinks this dynamic is so entertaining for older fans of the superhero film genre in an interview with GQ, saying, “I think Deadpool’s coming along at the right time, because it’s speaking to that generation that has seen all these comic-book films and enjoyed them all to varying degrees of success … it’s speaking to them as though the guy in that red suit is one of them to some degree … It’s like there’s an element of, like, watching a DVD commentary by someone who’s got some pop-culture savvy and is kind of funny and a little obnoxious and is saying the things that you wouldn’t say.”

He certainly does, delivering a satisfying dose of vulgar humour, with more naughty language than Captain America could handle.

Deadpool is full of fast-paced action sequences, lots of laughs, and some gorgeous visuals — not to mention, as Betty White put it in her review of the film, “Ryan Reynolds looks so fucking handsome in his red leather suit!” (Which Deadpool would surely be thrilled to hear, being a longstanding fan of The Golden Girls.) If tons of ass kicking and dick jokes aren’t up your alley, then this movie probably isn’t for you, and it is definitely not for children — which is part of the reason the rest of us love it so much.

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