Much like every plan Deadpool’s ever had, there are about a million ways Deadpool’s first movie could have gone wrong. It’s a superhero deconstruction, wrapped inside a romantic comedy, sprinkling body horror on top of the comic book origin story template. If played wrong, this could have been a crass, unforgivable trainwreck, leaving everyone in the theater feeling like Deadpool after he used Colossus as a kickboxing bag.
Yet, much like every plan Deadpool’s ever had, somehow his charming madness drives the target to a big red X signifying: Nailed It!
Moderate Spoilers Follow – Go check out the movie!
How Deadpool Worked
The clearest take from Deadpool is that this movie is an unequivocal success, even before the box office triumph started rolling in. The film features razor sharp wit, with a perfectly cast Ryan Reynolds embodying the impossible moron / tortured soul / sarcastic motormouth triumvirate that is Deadpool.
The film itself is a series of perfectly crafted one-liners and action set pieces, with rarely more than a couple minutes passing by without raucous laughter in the theater. Beautifully, even the seemingly touching moments are sliced in half with a crude barb, such as Deadpool telling Blind Al, “I love you,” only to follow up with a promise of cocaine and a “cure for blindness” hidden somewhere in the house.
Many of the best elements of Deadpool were on full display, with his jabs at the studio not willing to spend for more X-Men clobbering the 4th wall, a mocking credits roll emulating Deadpool’s sassy comic book recap pages, and Deadpool cutting off his own hand to spite, well, the X-Men. I also will never say no to a Deadpool / X-Men team-up that involves hunting down rogue mutants.
The supporting cast was a phenomenal fit as well, with hilarious turns from Weasal and Blind Al (could have used more Blind Al!), a somehow compatibility kinky Vanessa as Wade’s girlfriend, and an unstoppably perfect rendition of Colossus the boyscout, with his very own Negasonic Teenage Warhead inhabited by the spirit of April from Parks & Rec.
All in all, Deadpool’s a great movie. But where does it stand in the comic book movie pantheon, and what does it mean for comic book movies moving forward?
X-Men Universe Movie Power Rankings
Fox Movies get a lot of flak (deservedly) for their desecration of the Fantastic Four, but with the exception of a few drop dead duds, their X-Universe films are largely satisfying. Here’s how I’d rank them:
- X2: X-Men United
- X-Men: Days of Future Past
- X-Men: First Class
- X-Men (1)
- The Wolverine (Wolverine 2)
- A blank screen
- The sound of screeching tires and innocent screams
- X3: The Last Stand
- Wolverine: Origins
As you can see, I slot Deadpool extremely high in the rankings, only behind my beloved X2: X-Men United
(I will defend that movie until my dying day). There’s some obvious recency bias factored in there, but if you ask me if I’d rather watch Deadpool again or any of those following X-Men films, the answer is, much like Deadpool, a no-brainer.
Deadpool’s Impact on Comic Book Movies
There will inevitably be a lot of talk after Deadpool about the R-rating and the movie’s financial success. The notion that the R-rating isn’t an impediment to sales is likely an important Hollywood lesson and can potentially help future comic book movies embrace an artistic vision that requires things like cussing, hot nudes, and big bloody action.
That said, an R-rating alone isn’t going to fuel audience enthusiasm for a film. Just ask The Punisher
What’s more interesting to me, and what makes Deadpool such an important superhero movie, is the fact that Deadpool reinvigorates the entire comic book movie genre. Yes, it does so with jokes about Freddy Krueger &*((-*&^#*7^ a topographical map of Utah, but end of the day, Deadpool proves to Hollywood and movie-goers that comic books still have legs!
Not every comic book story is Colossus soliliquizing about heroic moments. Sometimes these stories are about Deadpool exacting revenge in all the wrong ways.
This breath of fresh air comes at a particularly pertinent time as Marvel’s Avengers roster prepares to hunker down for a super serious Civil War. Look across the pond, and DC’s Batman vs. Superman has all the humor of a nuclear winter. These are all big END OF THE WORLD scenarios that center on Hollywood heroism.
Meanwhile Deadpool is singular, and completely unafraid to poke fun at the tropes and inherent silliness of people running around in tights for the good of mankind.
Comic Book Movies need more small-scale weird. Comics have figured this out in recent years with idiosyncratic artistic visions carrying the likes of Hawkeye, Batgirl, and the Superior Foes of Spider-Man
(really) to unprecedented heights.
So Deadpool’s biggest takeways I hope to see influence the comic book movie landscape moving forward? Play with expectations, have fun, and let the artists express their vision of the character – if it’s done well, audiences and acclaim will follow.
10 Final Takeaways From Deadpool
1 — No voices.
I have to admit, the lack of narrative voices inside Deadpool’s head was a big let down. In the comics, Deadpool always has two caption boxes that he talks to and that talk to him, frequently with the funniest banter in his book.
This trick actually plays even better when you can hear the voices, as seen in Deadpool: The Video Game. The closest the film comes to alternate voices is Deadpool’s, admittedly hilarious, bit of whispered instruction under his breath to that poor, poor cab driver (“Kidnap her”).
Sadly, it wasn’t meant to be in the movie, but here’s hoping Deadpool’s mental state regresses to such a state that we get talking voices in Deadpool 2!
2 — Crazy
Speaking of Deadpool’s state of mind, Ryan Reynold’s Wade Wilson is a maniac, but he’s far from Deadpool’s unique brand of crazy. As mentioned, he isn’t hearing the voices, and I was also surprised to find that Director Tim Miller didn’t utilize any “Deadpool vision” hallucinations, with the exception of the great cuddly creature adventure towards the end of the film.
One of Deadpool’s better tricks is that what he thinks he’s seeing isn’t necessarily what’s happening in the real world. So far his movie version is a surprisingly reliable narrator.
3 — Crazy In Love
The rom-com elements of Deadpool could have really derailed this film, but instead Vanessa matched Wade’s mania pound for pound, and the extended holiday love scene was absolutely great (“Happy Halloween!”).
I still think Wade works best when he’s pining after a completely disinterested and impossibly hot Marvel heroine, but hey, true love worked a lot better than I would have expected.
4 — Origins
The biggest gripe against Deadpool is simply that origin stories are so tired at this point. We’re essentially 20 years into big budget comic book movies, and while Deadpool did us the favor of beginning en media res, I thought the movie lingered a hair too long in the pre-Deadpool era.
Could have used less mysterious not Weapon X facility, and more Blind Al.
5 — Ajax and Angel
Maybe it’s just me, but since they made it his origin… what the heck was the point of Ajax’s mutant farm regime? I know there was the line about turning Wade into a super slave, so… gross, but who was actually running that place? Ajax was a patient and now he’s legit in charge? Why did we even have the Ajax holds a guy up by his throat during a product drop off scene? None of these questions really matter in terms of enjoying Deadpool, but looking back I don’t see much holding up to scrutiny.
6 — Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead Solo Movie
I’ll buy my ticket the moment it’s announced.
7 — Cable and Deadpool
8) — X-Force Movie
I already have my ticket, although I will grant it colored it with crayon myself. Here’s my ideal roster given the current film:
Colossus (keep in mind, he’s been the leader of Marvel Now! X-Force, and was weirdly ok with Deadpool killing those mercenaries in the final showdown)
Negasonic Teenage Warhead (why not)
Archangel (post-Apocalyptic version)
9 — Zamboni Revenge
SO great. This is a good example of the Deadpool meets Family Guy persona, which works very well in small doses.
10 — And the Oscar Goes To…
Ok Deadpool probably won’t win the Oscar, but it’s not hard to imagine a 2016 where Deadpool is the best comic book movie of the year.
I hope that’s not the case simply because we have an onslaught of films left. Nonetheless, it would not surprise me. The bar is set!
What did you think? Do what feels right to you in the comments below!