In a movie landscape where movies based on graphic novels – also known as comic books – have evolved into a genre of their own, Deadpool , which opens Friday, Feb. 12, actually represents a risk.
When there’s money to be had studios generally are risk averse. That generally means they give the director an edict: “thou shalt not deliver a movie with anything but a PG-13 rating.” Anything harsher than that PG-13 kills box office – especially for men and women in tights.
The minds behind Deadpool apparently didn’t get the memo or weren’t given it. Deadpool, to be true to the comic from that birthed it, has to wallow in salty language, graphic violence, sex and generally extreme nature.
That director Tim Miller does so with gusto will make fans of the Marvel comic extremely happy. That he does so in a way that should appeal to general audiences should please the studio. At its heart, Deadpool is the typical comic book flick and this introduction is a typical origin story.
But the man behind the mask, Wade (Ryan Reynolds) isn’t the typical hero. He a mercenary when the audience meets him, willing to do whatever for a buck. But a funny thing happens. He finds love in the person of Vanessa (Morena Baccarin of Gotham) and his life changes – obviously for the better.
She’s just as wild, just as crazy and just as much of a smart ass as Wade and they get to be happy for about a year before he’s diagnosed with terminal cancer.
Naturally that sends Wade into a funk and eventually to desperation. When a shady kind of guy shows up at his favorite watering hole to tell him that he can cure his cancer, Wade balks, but his thoughts are more of Vanessa.
He takes the bait and finds himself into a scuzzy lab run by a scuzzier guy named Ajax (Ed Skrein) whose job it is to help any mutant genes (Deadpool resides in the X-Men universe) activate. After torturing him, turning him into something with skin akin to an avocado and eliminating his pretty boy looks, Ajax, to his regret, is successful.
Wade turns into a guy with heightened fighting skills, strength and the ability to regenerate, but he also realizes that he’ll be considered a freak, sending him into hiding and in search of Ajax, so that the villain can cure him.
At the beginning Wade states plainly that the film is a love story. By that measure he is absolutely correct, but it’s also a movie that revels in comic book convention all while poking fun at it. Is it revolutionary for taking the genre to a realm meant for adults?
Who knows, but in that regard it’s certainly a breakthrough in that Deadpool is decidedly adult in nature and earns a very hard R-rating. That fact likely won’t stop a generation of gamers younger than 17 nurtured on titles such as Grand Theft Auto from seeking it. It is refreshing, however, to see a film represent its source material accurately.
They also cast it perfectly – at least with respect to who’s portraying the lead. Reynolds, who made the perfect Hal Jordan in a ridiculously flawed Green Lantern, is even more at home as Deadpool from comedic timing to displaying just enough vulnerability .
Miller sets an intelligent tone and pace while choreographing some dazzling action scenes creating a memorable experience. Will there be a Deadpool 2? We can only hope a breath of fresh air such as this breezes through to reinvigorate the comic book genre on a regular basis.
Director: Tim Miller
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, T.J. Miller, Leslie Uggams, Ed Skrein
Rated: R for strong violence and language throughout, sexual content and graphic nudity.
Running time: 108 minutes
Check for theaters and showtimes at Atlas Cinemas, Cleveland Cinemas, Fandango.com and MovieTickets.com