By Alex Campbell
Peter Parker may be your friendly neighborhood spider-man, but Deadpool is by no means your friendly neighborhood superhero movie. With strong language, extreme violence and crass humor, Deadpool has taken its place among superhero greats as it has exceeded all expectations and is on its way to become the highest grossing R-rated movie of all time. This success is not due to to a great plot or thrilling twist, but because the film delivered exactly what it promised.
The character Deadpool, played by Ryan Reynolds, has long defied the superhero norm of the upstanding hero who fights for what is right. Rather, as he repeatedly states in the film, he is not a hero and does not want to be one. In the film, Wade Wilson, aka Deadpool, is diagnosed with terminal cancer. In a desperate attempt to save himself, he accepts an offer from an organization that promises to not only cure his cancer, but to also give him superhuman abilities. While the procedure is successful, giving him the ability to regenerate body parts and immortality, it leaves him horribly disfigured. While he is trying to track down the people who ‘cured’ him, they kidnap his fiancé, only deepening his vendetta.
In the comics, Deadpool is known for his relentless crude humor; he is dubbed ‘the merc with the mouth,’ and has an extreme affection for violence, often resulting in many bloody confrontations. Most unique to the character, however, is his ability to break the fourth wall, having knowledge of his existence as a comic book character. Curse words are not stranger to his comics and film does not disappoint on any of these accounts.
The first 20 minutes of the film introduce the audience to all of theses aspects. The film opens with a car crash frozen in midair; as the camera moves throughout the frozen crash, the opening credits are revealed. Or rather, Deadpool’s commentary of the cast, with titles like “a CGI character” and “a gratuitous cameo.” Somehow, the film finds a way to keep its humorous side afloat among near-constant gore and violence. Following the opening credits, the film rewinds a bit to Deadpool, oddly on his way to a highway in a taxi, he has a comedic conversation with the taxi driver Dopinder, and eventually goes on his way. And then, the movie goes from calm to completely insane. Deadpool leaps off the side of a multi-level highway and lands through the sunroof of a black van, and proceeds to brutally kill everyone in the van.
You can always be sure that whenever there is a particularly vicious or serious scene, there will always be a joke in the near future.
By far the best part of the film is Deadpool’s apparent knowledge of the outside world. In most scenes he will address the audience directly and narrate his current situation, which never fails to draw a laugh. During one of the first instances of fourth wall breakage he speaks to the audience directly during a flashback which was started by him breaking the fourth wall. In his words, “a fourth wall break inside a fourth wall break? That’s like sixteen walls.” It was also not uncommon for him to allude to the real world. At one point Deadpool makes a reference to Reynold’s failed Green Lantern film in 2011 saying, “just don’t make the super suit green, or animated!” Or, when Deadpool points out that there are only two X-Men present in the film, “Wow, this is such a big house, but I only ever see the two of you here. It's like the studio didn't have enough money for any more X-Men.” Candid moments like these really add to the film.
If I had to find some aspect of the film that lagged behind the rest it would be the plot, which is pretty generic. The hero reveals himself to the world. Someone close the the hero is kidnapped/put in harm's way. The hero saves said person. But we didn’t go to Deadpool to see some brilliant complex plot that blows our minds. We came to watch a movie with curse words, violence and crude humor. And given Deadpool’s success on all of those accounts, I think we can forgive a unoriginal plot and expect a new generation of R-rated superhero films in the near future.