For years, it seemed like a Deadpool movie was never going to happen. Fans of Wade Wilson’s manically goofy ultraviolence would have to content themselves with the terrible version of the character from the first Wolverine movie. But then, like a chimichanga descending from heaven, Deadpool actually made it through the Tinseltown gauntlet to the big screen. You probably won’t vomit after taking it into your body.
Fellow Kotaku comics fan Mike Fahey and myself both went to see Deadpool last night. (Not together, though; that way, the odds were better that at least one of us would stay awake.) In the conversation that follows, we talk about the movie’s surprising success and regrettable flaws. Spoilers follow, so you might want to bookmark this for after you’ve seen Ryan Reynolds do his thing.
Evan Narcisse: I’ve never liked Deadpool. He’s the artefact of a time period when a lot of unjustified hype and desperate gimmicks dominated the superhero comics landscape. Even when writers and artists I love have worked on Wade Wilson’s adventures, the results have never moved me. Years ago, I decided that Deadpool was not my cup of tea. But, God help me, I liked the Deadpool movie.
Michael Fahey: I’ve loved Deadpool for years. He’s from a time period when comics were dark and gritty and covered with Liefeld shoulderpads. While all of the other characters were gritting their teeth and firing guns, Deadpool was standing on the sidelines with me, shaking his head and eating a chimichanga. In recent years he’s gotten out of control, and I was worried this movie would be too over the top. But, thank God, it was exactly the right amount of over the top.
Evan: Yeah, a lot of my response to Deadpool comes from the particular moment the movie’s coming out in. Iron Man came out eight years ago. Disney and Warner Bros. are announcing roadmaps for superhero movies they will be putting out half a decade from now. Superhero movies are way overdue for self-satire and tonal variation.
Mike: He’s the perfect character for it. He was born for this. It was either going to be Deadpool or Superhero Movie II. I’m glad we got this.
Evan: I have to acknowledge that a lot of the things that bother me about Deadpool in the comics was in here: horny adolescent potty humour, a tendency to self-congratulation on the material’s own transgressiveness or cleverness and the like. But that stuff didn’t bother me that much in the movie. I think it’s because Ryan Reynolds and the filmmakers were taking the piss out of themselves from, like, the very first frame. I can’t remember the last time I laughed at opening credits like that.
Mike: Oh God, I was not ready for the opening credits. I choked on popcorn. “A Gratuitous Cameo.” “A CGI character.” Not to mention the music playing: “Angel of the Morning.”
Evan: Perfect for ’80s babies like me and you. There was a balance in tone throughout that was genuinely surprising. My biggest beef with a lot of Deadpool comics is that he’s constantly done up as this amalgam of Spider-Man + Wolverine + Bugs Bunny. I rarely wind up caring about the dude under the mask.
But, for all the cliches trotted out in the romance subplot, I actually gave a damn about Wade Wilson and the few people he cared about.
Mike: Though there was a bit too much naked Morena Baccarin for my taste [lying], given the short amount of time they had to set up their relationship, I bought it completely. I know those feelings. I’m pretty sure I’ve told my wife that “our crazy fits”. I am getting a little teary thinking about it. I’ll be OK. I’m in New York this week, away from the family. Emotions. I have them. Still, the moment Wade and Vanessa found out he had cancer, when she was trying to plan ahead and he was just trying to commit her face to memory. Jesus.
Evan: Those beats kinda justify the ultraviolence in a way. Like, this is a Deadpool who is pissed off at the raw deal life handed him and is lashing out. Again, that’s a feeling that’s often missing from the comics, where he’s played more as crazy than angry.
Mike: There were times towards the end when it was played almost too straight. The climactic battle came dangerously close to standard action movie stuff. If not for the presence of the best movie Colossus ever and his dreadfully underutilised teen sidekick, I might have been bored.
Evan: When I first started seeing and hearing about Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead, I was really worried that they would take over the movie. But they were well used as foils for Deadpool. I thought the characterisation of Colossus was a little too uptight, but that’s a minor quibble.
Mike: Have you met Colossus?
Evan: The jokes at the X-Men’s expense were really funny, especially the one about the timeline being all jacked up.
Mike: And how empty the X-Mansion was, as if the producers didn’t have enough money to hire more X-Men.
Evan: One of the things I liked most about Deadpool was the fight choreography. I’ve sat through too many Batman movies where the action is annoyingly hard to read. The camerawork was great here and really made the over-the-top moments sing.
Mike: Right. So we’ve got touching human moments balancing insane superhuman ones, honest emotion balancing immature humour, brilliant choreography balancing ridiculous action — who’d have thought Deadpool would make for such a well-balanced film?
Hell, they even made me feel for side characters that most comics writers used as little more than comic relief. How did Blind Al work so well on film? She had minutes of screen time, but there was a depth to that interaction that was so tangible. And not just in the touching sense. Ahem.
Evan: I did think that the middle flashback sequence to Deadpool’s origin was too long. And I hated the way they fudged with the established pseudo-science of mutant powers.
Mike: Yeah, it was less Weapon X and more… Power Broker. And really the main bad guy was the worst part of the movie. It’s tough to bring a satisfying end to a villain who can’t feel anything and doesn’t seem to care if he lives or dies. But really this movie had nothing to do with him. He was a means to an end.
Evan: Yeah, he left me cold, too. It was too bad they couldn’t make the bad guy feel like anything other than standard-issue, especially for a movie that made a point of thumbing its nose at the genre’s tropes.
Mike: The real battle was inside Wade Wilson all along.
Evan: I think a sequel’s already being written, right? It’s going to be interesting to see how they tackle the problem of being the naughty superhero movie all over again. Gonna be tough to seem like you don’t give a damn when you’re in franchise mode.
Mike: I hear the sequel is going direct to Cable.
Evan: Hahahahaha. I will end this in the only way possible: *makes wanking motion*
Mike: Before we go, you lived in New York City. Know where I can get a stuffed unicorn?