“Okay guys, I only have twelve bullets, so you’re all going to have to share!”
Within seconds it will be clear whether or not Deadpool is for you. The opening credits weave through a frozen moment of action claiming to produced by “some asshats” and starring “some idiot” who is then mocked for being the sexiest man of the year in People magazine and for playing Green Lantern. Self aware and juvenile in the ways that have defined the character since it was spat out of the overblown absurdity of 90s superhero comics, Deadpool is yet another entry in the genre that calls attention to its limitations without really transcending them. It’s a big, goofy, R-rated blockbuster in spandex that is stupidly fun on its own terms without ever really rising above B-movie entertainment. The flick is a good time for folks who enjoy superhero entertainment, but it certainly won’t win over anyone who isn’t already on board with the genre. In jokes are for insiders, after all.
Yep, after years of hoping to make up for the last time he played the character, Ryan Reynolds finally got to do a Deadpool movie and do it right. Sure, it’s yet another origin story, but at least Zombieland screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick and director Tim Miller do everything they possibly can to make that feel fresh. Messing with chronology is one of their big tricks. So that frozen opening credits action scene technically takes place in the middle of the story. We gradually meet Reynolds’ Wade Wilson, a low level sarcastic mercenary with military training who has a wisecracking best buddy who owns a bar (TJ Miller) and an equally foul-mouthed soul mate (Morena Baccarin). Unfortunately the guy gets cancer, which leads to him participating in a medical experiment executed by a psychotic that fries Wade’s skin like Freddy Kruger and gives him remarkable healing powers.
Thankfully more jokes land than miss by far. Sure, the humor is mostly of the immature teenage variety that considers poo-poo, pee-pee, genitalia, swears, and violence the height of comedy. But hey, there’s quite an overlap between that crowd and the comic book crowd, so that’ll work out just fine. The filthy humor is also elevated to R-rated territory that’s at least honest and open in its filthiness. Director Tim Miller really leans into his R-rated freedoms, delivering not just dirty words, but also a few nipples and a whole bunch of blood and gore. The violence is typically of the splatstick variety, drawing influence from outrageous Asian action movies with a dash of gore horror. There’s something undeniably amusing about seeing that material pumped up to blockbuster scale. It gives Miller the opportunity to stage raunchy spectacle and silliness on a massive stage in a way that hasn’t been around for ages. That along with the self-conscious superhero humor prevents the old origin tropes from feeling like a slog.
Reynolds is clearly having a ball in the lead role and his joy is infectious. The guy may have made some bad movies in his time, but he’s an underrated actor (see Mississippi Grind) and a master of sarcasm. He was made to be Deadpool, born with the genetic requirements to be an action figure, yet also with enough self-aware humor not to let it go to his head. He nails all the big laughs and mild drama with ease. When the action scenes arrive, he handles them well and the character benefits from a mask that allows stuntmen to seamlessly slip in to push things farther when necessary. The rest of the cast all have their moments with Baccarin doing the damsel in distress routine with attitude, Miller improvising a few extra filthy lines, Skrein growling out an acceptable villain, and Hildebrand/Kapicic earning their X-Men bona fides through ironically detached self-parody. The whole cast is in on the Deadpool joke and play along. The thing is that joke and Reynolds dominate the simple origin movie so thoroughly that the supporting cast are never much more than support. That’s fine. The movie is called Deadpool after all, not Deadpool & Friends. Save that for the sequel.
So, what we have here is ultimately yet another superhero movie, but at least a good one with a few new ideas to bring to the party. It flies by at a nice clip, stretches a modest blockbuster budget enough to compete with the big boys, ladles on layers of humor (meta and otherwise), panders to the fans, and pushes the genre to the goofiest extremes an R-rating allows. As popcorn fluff, it’s a total delight for those who enjoy superhero shenanigans. Deadpool doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it delivers a fine wheel that knows it’s a wheel and makes fun of the cultural infatuation with wheels. That’ll do just fine. In a world where Deadpool can be a hit, execs will start looking for movies superficially like Deadpool and that’s how the next generation of action filmmakers will be able to start a new trend.
Since Deadpool broke so many records in theaters, Fox went ahead and filled their Blu-ray to the brim for collectors. The Blu-ray is overflowing with content, far more than any recent X-Men flick. So if you’re a fan, things just got better. Unsurprisingly, the disc looks and sounds fantastic. The bright colors pop, the dark shadowy scenes are filled with unexpected death, and every action sequence explodes across home theater speakers. The Deadpool budget may have been low by superhero blockbuster standards, but Tim Miller and co. put every goddamn dollar on the screen and the disc should be just as much of a home theater showcase as any superhero joint produced on twice the scale. Plus, you’ll get to hear almost every English language swearword in the highest quality soundmix possible and that is just fan-fucking-tastic.
Yet, where this disc really delivers is in the extras department. You’ll think you stepped into a time warp to the 2000s with all this content. First up how about a 2 hour (yes, feature length) documentary about the movie. Yep, people still make those and this one is fantastic. Short of revealing who leaked the test footage, everything you could possibly want to know about production is covered, from the comic book creators’ original inspirations to the special effects artists work on classic comic eyeballs. Even better, the whole thing is delivered with a wryly self-conscious sense of humor in the style of the movie, serving up the facts while also giggling at the fact that so many people put so much effort into a masturbation joke.
Next up comes a pair of commentary tracks. The first by Ryan Reynolds and screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick is just as loaded with mockery as you’d expect, as well as plenty of comradery since these three guys spent so many years struggling to make the movie. The next track by director Tim Miller and Deadpool creator Rob Liefeld is a bit more subdued, but covers a wide range of material about the origins of the character on page and screen. After that comes 20 minutes of deleted scenes (with optional director’s comedy), an outtake reel with as many swears as you’d hope, a variety of stills/storyboards, and something called “Deadpool’s Funsack” that serves up a variety of weird promo odds n’ ends including an interview between Reynolds and Mario Lopez that’s just as weird as it sounds. So yeah, good news Deadpool nerds, you’ll have hours of content to comb through when you nab this disc.
Does this deserve a spot on your Dork Shelf?
It’s probably the most content a major studio has crammed onto a blockbuster Blu-ray in years and well worth exploring because if the movie proves nothings else, it’s creators clearly have a snappy sense of humor about their work and care deeply about the loveable dirtbag that is Deadpool.