By Jarrod Jones. At this point it’s pretty cocky to say that 2016 is going to be a watershed year for the superhero movie genre. Remember: we’re only two months into the year, but that doesn’t keep folks from squeaking across the internet that Civil War is gonna rule, or that Batman v. Superman is gonna surprise us all, just you wait. (Spoilers: it probably won’t.) We can, however, say with confidence that 2016 will definitely be the most audacious year for four-colored heroes yet.
That this year’s superhero movie season is bookended by two of its biggest gambles — an R-rated comedy and a vaguely PG-13 lookin’ thing with an esoteric gathering of B-list supervillains — speaks volumes as to where this rapidly wearisome genre is these days. Now that Guardians of the Galaxy has successfully loosened everyone up to the idea that square-jawed comic book movies can be weird too, intrepid filmmakers now have enough space in which to wiggle. So if the rest of 2016 turns out to be a bust, if nothing else, we can always say that we had Deadpool.
Yeah, I said it. I liked Deadpool. For all its dick jokes and meta-commentary and adlibbing punchlines that miss more often than they hit, Deadpool is a surprising thing to behold. It’s funny in spite of the fact that it knows it’s funny, it’s thrilling because there are actual stakes to consider, and hold onto your pants, there’s a real, bonafide love story at the center of it all. Consider Deadpool a jolt to the system for the jaded masses who just don’t get the charge they used to out of movie trailers, who fail to get goosepimples anymore whenever Chris Evans throws his mighty shield. (Those poor wretches.)
For a film that aspires to little, it accomplishes quite a bit. For one, it makes Ryan Reynolds a hero in the hearts and minds of comic book movie fans everywhere, or at least it should: Deadpool takes righteous pokes at Blade: Trinity, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, AND Green Lantern (twice, in fact), mostly because if Deadpool owes anything to anyone, it’s to the stalwart comic book fans who really made this sucker happen in the first place. Ryan Reynolds has always had the looks, the wit, and the abdominals to carry a comic book movie on his finely sculpted shoulders. Only problem is, there hasn’t been a project suited enough to his talents. Yes, Ryan Reynolds stunk in all of those movies, but I’ll be damned if the long shadow cast by his performance in Deadpool doesn’t blot out every single one of them.
But don’t you dare give Reynolds all the credit. T.J. Miller, an insufferably keen comedic talent in his own right, has a few yuks in store as well. Then there’s Morena Baccarin, who clears every comedic and dramatic hurdle the film throws her way. (Thus proving she’s utterly wasted in Gotham, one of Fox’s DC Comics properties.) Even when she gets Damseled halfway through the movie — Deadpool owes itself to trite Nineties superhero flicks more than it’s probably willing to admit — Baccarin never once loses her vitality. In fact, her wholly convincing subplot with Reynolds likely makes Deadpool the best Valentine’s Day movie we’re gonna get this year. (Sorry, Zoolander 2?)
I could go on about how fucking killer Stefan Kapičić’s Colossus was (it’s the most seamless a crossover I’ve seen in any of these movies), or how painfully iconic Brianna Hildebrand’s Negasonic Teenage Warhead is about to become (believe it). And never mind that its soundtrack is both excruciatingly obvious and completely stunning at the same time. Deadpool is a big-budget superhero film with a difference: yes, it’s entertaining almost to the point of pandering, but that doesn’t matter. What makes Deadpool work best is that it remembers precisely where it came from.
Directed by Tim Miller.
Produced by Lauren Shuler Donner, Simon Kinberg and Ryan Reynolds.
Screenplay by Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese.
Based on Deadpool by Fabian Nicieza and Rob Liefeld.
Starring Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, T. J. Miller, Gina Carano, Brianna Hildebrand, Stefan Kapičić.
7.5 out of 10