I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.
Jared McMillan // Film Critic
It’s kind of crazy to recognize the fact that there is a movie about the “Merc with a Mouth.” It exists, bucking the system that tried to squash it and keep it in development hell. Two things happened that made DEADPOOL come to fruition: the infamous leaked footage that happened to “just appear” on YouTube, and GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY.
Not to say that GOTG has anything to do with the world of Deadpool, but rather that its massive success gave Marvel the go-ahead to explore the fringe characters of its universe. Coupled with the “HELL YES!” response that the leaked footage attained, the star/producer of the movie, Ryan Reynolds, finally had what he wanted. But would it be more than he bargained for?
Let’s look at the actual character of Deadpool, also known as Wade Wilson. Sure, he has super-healing abilities, super agility, and a high threshold for pain, but his personality is something wholly different from the normal superhero trope. In the comics, he constantly talks with the voices in his head, which comes in the form of the reader; there is always an instance for Deadpool to break the fourth wall. He is forever cynical, sarcastic, and straddling the line between good and evil. How would that translate as a film, and would the audience tire of his milieu?
I can honestly say that DEADPOOL was everything that fans were hoping for, a more than welcome variable to the tiring superhero genre. It gives the audience a heads-up of what’s to come from the opening credits, which leads to an untraditional narrative. The movie’s story is essentially a second and third act, with the first act being told via Deadpool’s interaction with the audience. It aims to be different from all other Marvel properties, and hits the target right between the eyes.
Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is a freelance hired hand, taking odd jobs that range from assault to murder, all for a payday. Hanging out at the local merc hangout hosted by his best friend Weasel (T.J. Miller), he meets Vanessa (Morena Baccarin). The narrative of love story takes hold, albeit with a meet-cute that is a game of one-upsmanship on who had the worst childhood, and a montage of various sexcapades and kink. After becoming engaged, Wade is diagnosed with terminal cancer.
Enter a strange man in a suit, giving Wade an opportunity to get cured and gain new abilities to become something of a superhero. He leaves behind his love, and goes to meet his fate, which is in the form of sadistic scientist named Ajax (Ed Skrein), and his henchwoman Angel (Gina Carano). Bad things happen, Wilson is left for dead, only to be resurrected with newfound powers. The only problem is he is ugly as sin. So he goes after Ajax hoping to fix his ugly mug, and that’s the whole plot.
A lot of people might have trouble with a plot that’s so simple: Guy gets tortured, gets disfigured, goes for revenge to cure his hideous figure (which is the source of hilarious rapid-fire one-liners). The plot is supposed to be this shallow, because Wade Wilson/Deadpool is telling the story to the audience. The backstory is everything Deadpool wants us to see, and the reality of storytelling is that you mainly hit the high points to your audience. No one goes into the psychology of why they acted this way, and if they do, the audience will start to lose interest. All we want is a foundation for the goods that we want to take in.
DEADPOOL’s goods come in the form of graphic jokes, graphic violence, and go-for-broke anarchy. Deadpool is out for himself and doesn’t quell his personality for the sake of an archetype. Every moral crossroads, usually perpetuated by Colossus (voiced by Stefan Kapicic), is cut off at the knees. We have come to know the “superhero moments” that happen in every superhero movie, and they lull you into that expectation before punching you in the mouth with a quip or gunshot.
Ryan Reynolds has said that this was the role he was born to play, and he couldn’t be more accurate. Every aspect of Deadpool comes at you in waves, whether it’s the meta humor, the action, or just good ol’ fashioned poop jokes. Reynolds is in almost every scene, and when he’s not, you can feel a sort-of emptiness on screen, which is the only knock against the movie. The screenplay by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick makes everything full-throttle because anything else would’ve been holding back the character of Deadpool. Everything is vulgar to match its titular hero, and director Tim Miller uses that to his advantage for the action set-pieces.
DEADPOOL is something unique as the superhero genre becomes more mainstream. It is geared specifically for adults, which has only been met by the lackluster PUNISHER movies in the Marvel universe. It can’t be pointed out enough that this is not for children, which we welcome wholeheartedly. This feels like an introduction to another path that Marvel will go down, the ice cream bar for the endless buffet of superhero movies that happen from here on out. That being said, too much can spoil our appetite, so if this becomes a franchise they should space it out more than normal to keep its freshness. Either way, you’re in for a treat.
DEADPOOL opens in theaters on Friday, Feb. 12.