There have been a few comic characters that have consistently stood out to me as being hands down perfectly imperfect and absolutely awesome. While my love for other characters may seem to waver in intensity (and I always have a writer or two I’ll favor over others when it comes to characterization), my love for Deadpool has been steadfast since I picked up the comic a couple years ago – but my adoration for Wade Wilson is nothing compared to that of Ryan Reynolds’.
The beauty of the Deadpool movie is the passion that went into making it. The utter relentlessness and tenacity it took to get this thing made is fucking inspirational. Reynolds took the phrase “if you want something done right, do it yourself” and ran with it, while writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (give these guys a raise) took an amalgamation of characteristics from various Deadpool writers’ take on Wilson over the past twenty-five years to create this awesome cinematic version that is true to the comics. Tim Miller’s vision for the movie and insistence on Deadpool being pansexual made me want to pull a Macho Man Randy Savage Oooooh yeah! and punch a straight white boy whining about Deadpool’s non-existent heterosexuality in the face. I was already sold at the leaked footage, but with the genius marketing team (and Reynolds himself) pushing Fox Studios to the point that those who weren’t completely sold on the profitability of the NSFW style of super hero were probably suffering from stomach ulcers and anxiety, I knew walking in that I was not going to be disappointed – and that’s an amazing feat when it comes to Fox Studio superhero films. The X-Men franchise is one that I always have high hopes for and am slightly disappointed with if not entirely upset that I didn’t spend the time writing crack fiction instead. This time, Fox got it right – thanks to a creative team fighting the studio for Wade the entire way. Honestly, they should be thanking the pains in the ass that kept fighting for this movie to be made for all the heartache.
The movie that resulted was a visually pleasing, crass, in-character, fourth wall-breaking ride that had the entire theater laughing. I’ve never been in a theater with so many pleased audience members – except maybe the morons that let their children sweet talk them into taking them to see the R-rated “super hero” flick – which was R-rated for a hundred different reasons, as it should have been; if Deadpool hadn’t been R-rated, it would have been untrue to the character and a disappointment with fans. Thankfully, it wasn’t PG-13’d down. It was oddly refreshing and appropriate to hear “Fuck fuck fucking shitfuck!” coming from the speakers. As for the cinematic elements, even though there were amazingly violent visuals that were on par with the comics, we weren’t overwhelmed with special effects. Other than Colossus and the instances of Angel Dust’s landing and Negasonic Teenage Warhead using her powers, the only obvious special effects sequence is also one that had a lot of physical effects – the road and bridge scene we saw in the leaked footage and the trailers.
Ultimately, this movie came down to the characters and the story. When it comes to character background, I’ve always leaned toward Marvel because of how much I’m invested in their personal narrative. Whether it’s Avengers or S.H.I.E.L.D. agents or Agent Peggy Carter – these characters have stories that are begging to be told and the audience wants to hear, which is obvious with the film and television franchises. Deadpool’s success is notable not only because of the R-rated content, ingenuity of marketing, and unique storytelling that matched wits with the source content, but because of the characters. Had the characters been watered down in either humor or tragedy, this movie wouldn’t have been a success, let alone a record breaking one. In an interview with Forbes magazine, Rhett Reese said that the success of the movie showed “how much people really love character above special effects”, and this is especially true with comic book fans. We love the explosions and fights, but fuck if we don’t love the characters above all else, which the Deadpool team brought in force. Being accurate when it comes to a character and providing an interesting story doesn’t have to involve $100 million in special effects, dramatically and inaccurately killing off a character for shock effect, or laser eyes. Critics are saying this is a game-changer in the super hero movie genre, and I sincerely hope it is. The family-friendly movies are great, but when the opportunity is there to create a movie for adults, why not take it? Sure, there’s not a lot of marketing opportunity for the toy aisle at Target, but I’m sure the adult market will make up for it. Maybe this will finally be the dick waving in the face of the studios that makes them realize it.