Directed by Tim Miller
Starring Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein
Deadpool is one of Marvel’s most hyped films in a long time, perhaps due to his stark tonal difference from the Avengers or X-Men, or perhaps because it’s one of Marvel’s most explicit films, rated R in America and 15 in the UK- featuring gore, violence, nudity and a lot of swearing. However, even after all these things distinguish it from a normal Superhero outing, Deadpool comes out short.
The main problem with Deadpool is the story. In an attempt to avoid the usual story arc of a superhero origin story, the film begins in medias res with an event quite late into the plot, which is used as a framing device to explain the backstory of the character. A lot of time is spent on Wade Wilson (Reynolds), before he turns into Deadpool. These sections are undoubtedly the best parts of the film, tracking his relationship with girlfriend Vanessa (Baccarin), friends in his business, and his diagnosis of terminal cancer. These scenes really help establish the character of Wilson, his motivations and quirks, and also explore the trials and tribulations of a relationship with a weight hanging over it like cancer.
Unfortunately, Wilson’s transition to superhero-dom is short and confusing- particularly him learning how to fight and wisecrack like Deadpool does, which is covered in a brief montage. This is what most of the audience wanted to see, and it is over in a few minutes. Perhaps if Miller had focused more on this and less on the ‘humour’, the film would be a great success.
The humour is one of the pivotal points of the Deadpool character, and for every joke or comment that elicits a laugh, two fall short. The jokes double down on immature humour, focusing on genitalia and masturbation over anything more substantial. Perhaps his humour doesn’t translate well for English sensibilities, but Reynolds was arguably a poor choice for Deadpool, despite making a great Wade Wilson. Some of the more successful jokes are the fourth-wall breaks that have valid standing in the context of the film, for example when Deadpool is commenting on the filming techniques or the casting.
Another hurdle that the film fails to overcome is the CGI, impressive in some scenes but ridiculously fake-looking in others (particularly the initial fight scene). The cinematography makes a good attempt to make up the shortcomings, as fight scenes are easy to follow and enjoyable to watch, whilst proper restraint is shown in scenes that don’t need much direction. Unfortunately, as previously stated, the actions scenes we actually want to see are shown in a montage, and the scenes that are left don’t quite fulfil our desires for action, but when they are shown they are enjoyable.
Ultimately, whilst Deadpool is an action film with a romantic subplot, the film functions best as a romance film with an action subplot. The scenes with Reynolds and Baccarin are filled with charisma, chemistry and charm, whilst the scenes with Deadpool wisecracking and killing people in overly gory ways put style over substance too much. Perhaps if the film had been made not to make good trailers but to make us feel for the characters, it would have been much better.