He’s a Superhero, But He Never Said He’s a Role Model

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BY VINCENT ABBATECOLA

unnamedWith all of the movies based on comic-book characters that have come out since the early 2000s, we have become used to them following a certain format: the protagonists receive their powers, learn to use them, establish a code of ethics, save the world, and then prepare for any dangers they may have to face in the future.  Although most of these films have been supremely entertaining, there comes a point when you wish for the formula to be shaken up a bit, to add a bit of variety to a genre that now has more and more films coming out every year.

Director Tim Miller offers a change to the genre with the superhero comedy, “Deadpool,” which is based on the comic-book character by Fabian Nicieza and Rob Liefeld and takes place in the X-Men universe.  He certainly isn’t the kind of superhero you have seen on the big screen so far, making him almost like an anomaly among all the other heroes who have come before him.  In a film that delights in its rapid jokes and ultra-violence, this is a superhero story that gleefully undos not all, but many comic-book movie conventions we have seen in the past.

Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is a former Special Forces operative who now works as a mercenary in New York City and soon meets the love of his live, Vanessa (Morena Baccarin).  After Wade is diagnosed with terminal cancer, he’s approached by a recruiter for a secret program who has heard about his illness and Special Forces experience, and offers him a chance to undergo a procedure that will cure his ailment and give him superhero abilities.  When Wade learns this experiment is for much more nefarious purposes, he is left for dead in the destroyed facility by weapons expect Francis Freeman (Ed Skrein).  After Wade emerges from the rubble with new healing abilities, he will take the name of “Deadpool” and hunt down the man who almost killed him.

Ryan Reynolds reprises his role from 2009’s “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” in which the film’s depiction of the character was disliked by viewers; but, Reynolds was fine in the part back then, in terms of his acting.  This film, however, brings the foul-mouthed, fourth-wall-breaking debauchery Deadpool’s character deserves.  Reynolds joyfully revels in his character’s quick-wittedness and unapologetic crudeness, making him not your usual Peter Parker or Tony Stark type of superhero.

You never know what outrageous words are going to come out of his mouth next, but you know you’re going to laugh, and Reynolds’line delivery offers his dialogue a true punch.  Deadpool is someone who couldnt care less what you think of him, and Reynolds hilariously projects this part of his characters personality when he says and does whatever he pleases.  However, despite Reynolds providing a mostly comedic performance, he also brings Deadpool’s more dramatic side in certain moments of the film as he undergoes the experiment and later tries to deal with the consequences of what has happened to him.

Although there are some supporting characters who are more memorable than others , there are two who make a significant impact, and they are X-Men mutants Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) and Colossus (Stefan Kapičić).  Seeing the dialogue between these two characters and Deadpool is one of the most fun aspects of the film, with Colossus and Deadpool being complete opposites of each other in terms of superhero ethics, and NTW getting on Deadpool’s nerves with her humorously deadpan adolescent persona.  I hope to see them both back for the sequel so this trio can treat us to more of their humorous interactions.

The screenplay by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick offers a refreshing take on the superhero genre that includes a heavy dose of witty irreverence, thanks to the main character’s antihero sensibilities.  Because the narrative allows for Deadpool to break the fourth wall from time to time as a way to address the audience, it serves as a comical and uncommon method of letting us know what he’s thinking.  Reese and Wernick take this opportunity to write the character the way he’s meant to be and let him enjoy the unconventional superhero antics and inappropriateness we expect from Deadpool.

Seeing as the film is almost a half hour shorter than most superhero films, the story is rather thin and eventually goes into familiar territory with Wade trying to rescue his girlfriend when she’s kidnapped about two thirds into the film.  But, it’s a pretty forgivable flaw, seeing as the screenplay provides their relationship with behavior and dialogue you probably never imagined you would see in a superhero-film romance.

This is Miller’s directorial debut, and it’s clear he not only has what it takes to construct a superhero film, but is also able to handle taking us in a direction that is unfamiliar to audiences of the genre.  He can film highly charged action sequences that earn the film its R-rating, while also keeping it in balance with the humor, similar to what we saw in the two “Kick-Ass” films.  Although we have seen R-rated superhero movies before with those two films, the change to the superhero formula is still refreshing because this is a Marvel Comics character we’re dealing with; and, before Deadpool, the heroes we saw on screen from Marvel were more family friendly, a description that hilariously doesn’t apply to Miller’s film.

While we’re at a time where there are multiple superhero movies coming out in a given year (there are six this year alone, including “Deadpool”), a film such as Miller’s will show you this genre can be taken in a direction that breaks the norm of many comic-book movies we’ve seen before.  It all works because the film pulls it off without seeming like it’s trying too hard to be different, just like Deadpool himself.

Grade: B+

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