Deadpool: A convention-shattering riot

Everything you need to know about Marvel's '˜8th X-men movie', Deadpool, can probably be summed up by the film's stand-out line 'I may be super, but I'm no hero', and that is the crux of this delightfully bonkers offering from first-time director Tim Miller.

Monday, 15th February 2016, 1:05 pm
Updated Monday, 15th February 2016, 1:15 pm
Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool
Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool

Since his inception to the Marvel world in 1991, Deadpool has long been one of the most unusual - and unquestionably popular - characters in comic-book history. Armed with supreme martial arts skills and being both a master swordsman and marksman, Deadpool is even further enhanced by mutant capabilities that make him virtually immortal - with the power to heal and regenerate at a super-human rate high on his list of abilities.

However, it is his insanely quick tongue and increasingly zany antics that make him the cult figure he has become and not surprisingly these are the elements of the character that Miller - and star Ryan Reynolds - have quite clearly moulded the entire film around.

It is no stretch to say that Deadpool is like no other super-hero film we’ve seen before and that instantly sets it apart from the somewhat formulaic - albeit excellent - Marvel world that we are used to.

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Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool

Breaking a winning formula can be a risky business but Deadpool takes great delight in not only breaking conventions but in giving those conventions the middle finger whilst running away into the night cackling wildly.

It is pretty much well known that both Miller and Reynolds stuck strongly to their vision in the face of strong studio pressure to turn Deadpool into a more box-office friendly PG-13 rating - arguing extensively that the script required the freedom that only an r-rating would allow. Thankfully they won the debate allowing the profanity-laced,

sexual-innuendo filled trash-talking that Deadpool is best associated with.

Finally, we have the adult superhero movie that audiences have craved since the wise-cracking, early days of Robert Downey-Junior’s now seminal Iron Man kick-started a genre that up until then had been a bit of a laughing stock. Reynolds’ Deadpool is a brash, immature, witty, and, of course, motor-mouthed incarnation - this is Tony Stark turned-up to maximum and doused with the searing adult humour and wildly offensive banter that is simply unavailable in the standard Marvel Universe.

Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool

From the start it is clear that Deadpool’s template more resembles Guardians of the Galaxy than it does The Avengers and even then it is hard to argue that it follows any type of template whatsoever as it constantly subverts genre traits and attempts to stick out like a sore thumb in a world of super-powered conformity.

Deadpool instantly tries to separate it’s main character from the usual heroic fare that Marvel now churns out on a regular basis by having it’s ‘hero’ start the film on a mundane, everyday taxi ride as if to emphasise that this is a much more realistic alternative to the high-tech world of Iron Man and his ilk. In much the same vein as Matthew Vaughan’s superb Kick-Ass, this is a film more closely routed to the real world than most of the Marvel franchise that has preceeded it and those expecting a straight-out superhero movie will instead receive a mixture of parody, farce and primarily the most unique action-comedy they will have seen in a long time.

As lethal as the katana swords that he wields with such impressive dexterity, it is the cutting words of his tongue that really act as Deadpool’s most offensive (in both senses of the word) weapons. The laughs will come thick and fast in what a times resembles a riotous teen comedy interlaced with violence and martial arts. Focusing as strongly as possible on witty dialogue and the excellent script-writing job of Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (Zombieland) there is barely a minute of Deadpool that goes by without at least one laugh out loud comment from it’s main protagonist.

​The heavy-reliance on comedy however doesn’t mean that there is a lack of story or character to try and cover. Miller has constructed a fast-paced narrative, interspersed with moments of spectacular action and supported by some particularly interesting characters which all help to propel a plot that switches it’s chronology on a regular basis.

When you consider the fact he is a first-time feature director, Miller should be hugely congratulated for constructing one of the most original entries to the Marvel cannon as he completely throws away the rulebook and constantly flits from past to present with the ubiquitous use of voice-over from the main character himself - which as to be expected is just as side-splitting as the rest of the film.

Miller’s job is made somewhat less complicated by the excellent work from his cast with Morena Baccarin in particular providing a solid supporting performance as Vanessa and playing her part in what becomes quite a touching romance - especially for a film that doesn’t rely heavily on sentiment or schmaltz in any shape or form.

Likewise, Ed Skrein is compelling enough as the films token British villain (jocularly referenced in the films unorthodox opening credits), and Brianna Hildebrand brings a certain feistiness to her rather strangely named X-Woman ally – yet it is a thankless task for anyone who attempts to steal the attention from Reynolds’ ‘merc with a mouth’.

The Canadian is on-point throughout and not only will this atone for his often-criticised

portrayal of the same character in X-Men Origins: Wolverine (through no real fault of his own it must be noted) but it will also go some way towards justifying just why the star was so adamant that the film needed to be made in the way he wanted.

Deadpool is played to perfection by Reynolds and at times is a crazy combination of Ace Ventura, Tony Stark and Jason Bourne, the actor quite clearly had as much fun playing him as we all will watching him and it is clear to see just what could be achieved from giving him this type of creative control in any future instalments of the franchise.

For Reynolds this is quite clearly a passion-project and the level of understanding and affection he has for the character is obvious throughout - so much so that you couldn’t really imagine anyone else filling the red spandex so effortlessly.

Both Reynolds and Miller deserve immense credit for fighting their corner and delivering what they knew the audience would want. In an industry that is all about the bottom dollar it’s refreshing to find a project that hasn’t sold it’s soul and sacrificed it’s quality and tone in order to secure a better box office. Deadpool has thankfully stayed true to it’s strengths and isn’t afraid to wield it’s greatest weapon - it’s black, adult humour - whenever it is required.

Whether this is the best Marvel movie or not is open to debate but what can’t be disputed is that this is unquestionably the funniest and certainly the most original.

A self-referential, fourth-wall breaking and convention-shattering riot that really isn’t like anything else you’ll have ever seen in this genre, Deadpool is as an absolute blast from start to finish and results in an excellent “I told you so” for both it’s star and director.

Like it’s main character before it, Deadpool is a franchise that looks like it will be nigh-on impossible to stop…

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