For 7 fucking years, I have been waiting for a Deadpool movie to happen. I was beginning to think it wouldn’t ever materialize. Of the few Marvel characters I had heard of before the release of their respective movies (Iron Man, Captain America, almost all of the X-Men, The Hulk, Thor, Spiderman, Fantastic Four, The Punisher), Deadpool was always my favourite. I loved the level of self-awareness his character encompassed; the fact that the other people in his stories didn’t know they were ‘just comic book characters’; the fact that he could pull off wearing Hello Kitty ears with ease, where I would fail miserably and end up looking like a rotund version of Frank the Bunny from Donnie Darko; the idea that despite being originally pegged as a villain, he fell into the mould of anti-hero with much less effort.
With his razor-sharp wit, comical personality (or two), taste for ultraviolence, endless spewing of pop-culture references, and ability to break the fourth wall at an unholy rate, I had naturally begun to lose hope that a Deadpool movie would ever come to fruition.
And then this happened….
This trailer was shown to excited audiences at last year’s San Diego Comic Con, to uproarious applause, and shouts from viewers to immediately show it again. Now, I know what you’re thinking. It can’t be as good as it looks in the trailer. Well, I did you a nice favour (thank me in the comments), and went to see the movie to check if you’re right.
You’re wrong. Not only is there more depth to the story than what is seen initially in the above video, with characters who are actually three-dimensional and display proper emotions and motivations (a first for a Fox-Marvel superhero movie, surely. Shit, remember Fant4stic last year? “Hey, let’s go to the alien planet ourselves, because alcohol and fragile masculinity!” “Good idea, guy from the Divergent movies!”), but the story of how Wade Wilson became the ‘Merc with a Mouth’ is told in a fashion that is much more faithful to the comics than his previous embarrassing incarnation (played also by Ryan Reynolds) in X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
This time, it’s apparent that Reynolds just fucking loves playing Deadpool. It’s the part he was definitely born to play, a damn sight better than his turn as the Green Lantern, which is touched on in the most hilarious way before the story even gets going.
Oh. Yeah. The story. Yes, there’s a story.
Diagnosed with cancer in advanced stages present in his liver, lungs, prostate and brain, “all things I can live without” as Wade Wilson quips to his devastated fiancée, he relents to an experimental treatment that promises to cure him entirely, and give him superhuman abilities to boot. Sounds like a pretty fuckin’ sweet deal, right? What’s not mentioned to him prior to his agreement is that he is to be injected with a serum that should trigger a mutation in his DNA, and if that doesn’t work, he’ll be tortured until the mutation arises. After no success, the ‘doctor’ locks him in an airtight chamber, dropping the oxygen level just low enough to make him feel like he’s choking, but also high enough to keep him barely alive, and hopefully trigger an awakening of any mutation lying dormant.
I’ve already given away enough of the story, so I’ll leave you kiddies figure things out from there.
Not a lot of people will have been familiar with Deadpool’s origins until now, but probably will have seen his own particular brand of pop-culture humour (and the odd chimichanga) on Facebook or Tumblr, where his humour seems to have found a larger audience in recent years. This has been carried over in the movie to a large, and very well executed, degree. The one thing that worries me though about this particular side of Deadpool’s personality, is whether many of his jokes will have the staying power of the nostalgic music that’s played during the many fight scenes. I fear that a good number of them will be harder to understand for future audiences, or viewers who are not entirely in tune with celebrity gossip (there are jokes about Momma June and Shake-Weights, to mention a few), or children’s cartoons (an Adventure Time watch. Hopefully Adventure Time will stand the test of time better than Momma June though). The jokes about Sinead O’Connor, aimed at newcomer Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Best. Name. Ever.), surprisingly held up very well with Irish audiences though, so who am I to speculate on longevity?
To the writers’ credit though, they have executed Deadpool in a way that is not only as faithful to the comics as the dedicated writers of Doctor Who, who have become notorious for being able to shoot down an episode idea by retorting that “that idea was done in 1966”; they’ve also managed to translate his origin story in such a way that it doesn’t follow the already-tried-and-tested method of telling his life events in chronological order, rather favouring flashbacks during key moments of the movie, without slowing down the action or taking away from the emotion of the moment. His awareness of the Marvel Universe’s recent activity is also alarmingly refreshing: when Colossus drags him away to meet Professor Xavier, he quickly quips ‘(James) McAvoy or (Patrick) Stewart? I find these parallel universes so confusing.’ There is even a nod to the oft-infuriating habit of Marvel movies, such as Captain America, Thor and Iron Man, not featuring any of the other Avengers members, who could easily help them out in their given storyline.
What has stuck out in my mind as an aspect of Deadpool that I particularly enjoyed, at least from a feminist perspective anyway, was his reaction when he hit a woman, and couldn’t reconcile whether it was anti-feminist to hit her, or to not hit her, at which point he’s attacked by another woman. Marvel have been chastised in the past for their treatment of female characters in movies, so naturally the response in Deadpool is to have a sexy female secondary character that every man in the movie theatre wants to have sex with (Morena Baccarin is absolutely beautiful, not gonna lie), but fans of Deadpool’s turn in the comics will already know Vanessa Carlysle very well, and know that like her fiancé, she can handle herself in a bar full of men attempting to sexually assault her. I’m hoping she will evolve in the forthcoming sequel to become the hero the fans already know her as: Copycat.
Even with a high level of comic-backed detail, and a marketing campaign that was described by journalists as ‘dumb, but hilarious’, Deadpool has fared surprisingly well, even with cinema-goers who were hitherto largely unfamiliar with the Merc with a Mouth. Despite being outright banned in China and Uzbekistan, and going against the grain of Marvel movies which usually keep close to a PG-rating in order to sell action figures and Lego toys to kids, Deadpool makes sure it gets, and maintains, its 18-rating, without worrying about how much revenue Marvel or Fox will garner from toys or T-shirts.
Although Deadpool wearing a T-shirt with Deadpool on it wouldn’t have been entirely out of character for him in the movie. Instead he makes the respectable choice of wearing a T-shirt with Bea Arthur’s face on it.
Was the 7 year wait worth it? Abso-chimi-fuckin’-changa-lutely.
Based in Cork, Doreen Manning is an activist, writer, graphic designer and self-styled “feminazi cunt who is taxed as a non-essential item.” You can follow her on Twitter here