REVIEW: I Was Wrong About DEADPOOL (And You Might Be, Too)

It's important to be able to admit when you're wrong.

The truth is, I've talked a lot of shit about Deadpool.

Most of this has to do with the character himself, who - since debuting all the way back in 1991 - has become a bit of a mascot for a certain subsection of fanboy nation. He loves ultraviolence! He eats chimichangas! He does swears! 

"So random", they said. "Lulz", they said.

But there were no lulz for me. I found the whole thing grating and immature, and - since I'm not usually much of a superhero guy to begin with - it was very easy for me to just avoid the books in which Deadpool appeared. I felt like I got the gist, and I moved on (note: this is the appropriate reaction when a bunch of people like a thing that you don't; there's no reason to mount a months-long crusade against the thing that's bringing them joy). Have fun with that, guys!

In retrospect, I realize that I was reacting to the frequently obnoxious subculture surrounding the character rather than the character itself. This is partially why, up until very recently, I was convinced that Tim Miller's Deadpool would not be for me. I could not imagine enjoying 100 minutes' worth of dick jokes, random pop culture references, CGI violence, and - perhaps most insidiously - unbridled mugging from Ryan Reynolds. 

I was wrong. Aainst all odds, I had a blast with Deadpool

On the one hand, it's not as though my worst fears were completely unfounded. Deadpool does contain more than its fair share of cheap dick jokes and easy pop culture references, and it gleefully wallows in the kind of CGI ultraviolence I've long since grown bored with. But on the other hand, the vast majority of this worked for me. Somewhere in between the unusual rhythm of the humor (which Devin touched on in his review), the gonzo violence and the tireless efforts of Ryan Reynolds (the man is on fire here), Deadpool became a breath of fresh air. Indeed, the amount of fun I had watching Deadpool is one of the biggest surprises I've had in a theater since...hell, I can't even remember. I was straight-up blindsided by it.

The film is not without problems. The structure's wonky. A good 40% of the jokes don't stick the landing. It feels a few giant set pieces shy of being legitimately spectacular, and a decent amount of the CGI is flat-out cartoonish (Colossus looks like he was ported in from another movie). Most problematic are the scenes where Reynolds does not appear in-costume; every time we get a Wade Wilson scene, Deadpool transforms from a wild beast into a domesticated animal. 

But when everything is clicking into place - which is more often than not - Deadpool works like gangbusters, and the dichotomy between what works and what doesn't ends up lending the whole thing a charming, shaggy dog sorta feel. That the film is rough around the edges feels appropriate, given both the character that inspired it and the fact that the film was obviously a labor of love for all involved (who willed this thing into existence on a fraction of the budget superhero movies are usually granted). 

Least, that's how I felt about it; your mileage will vary. I'm still sorting through my positive reaction to Deadpool, and I wonder how much of it is informed by the general sense of superhero fatigue I've been feeling lately. I liked the way Deadpool punctured the genre's tropes, its anything-goes approach to gags and profanity, and the fact that its stakes were so small in comparison to most comic book movies. In those ways, Deadpool mostly feels of a kind with James Gunn's Guardians Of The Galaxy and Peyton Reed's Ant-Man, which - surprise, surprise - are two of my favorite Marvel movies. To be clear, it's nowhere near as good as the former, but I definitely enjoyed it as much as I did the latter.

I also loved Ryan Reynolds. My appreciation of Reynolds' talents has...well, there's been ups and downs. Yes, he's been a total misfire in just about every comic book movie in which he's appeared, but it's important to remember that - with the possible exception of Green Lantern - most of that blame falls at the feet of the people who made those movies, not the man who starred in them. Wade Wilson is obviously a role Reynolds was born to play, and whenever he's in-costume doing his thing, he crushes it. Much like the infectuous joy Deadpool creator Rob Liefeld has been spreading on Twitter lately, it's hard to watch this happening and not feel happy for him.  

Quite frankly, this site did not need two Deadpool reviews. But I felt that it was worth sharing my response, as I suspect that some of you may have written off Deadpool for the same reasons mentioned up top. If that's the case, I think there's a good chance that you'll be pleasantly surprised if you give Miller's film a shot. I sure as hell was.