To Live or Let Die…or Dead…Pool…or Not
I spent a lot of time wondering if writing this review would be worth my time to write it, or if I could make it interesting enough for you to take the time to read it. This is clearly not a family friendly movie, so you won’t hear me discuss it much on the podcast, it just doesn’t sit with my target audience. However, here on our news page we can discuss television and movies that may be of interest to my audience but not quite what I want to present to the listeners.
For example, I wrote my impression of the first episode of the Netflix series, Daredevil. I however did not talk about it much on the podcast. This was a deep and dark series with lots of interesting characters, but the level of violence made it something I didn’t talk about on the podcast.
The difference here is that Daredevil is an intriguing story with twists and turns that I can say some positive comments about. Daredevil fans would be pleased, and possibly after finding this page on their quest for anything about the Man Without Feat would find something of value and then become curious about the podcast. Deadpool however….the fans of this character may not like my views.
Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.
Isn’t This Guy a Villain?
The images I’m using come from my own collection of Marvel trading cards from the early 1990s. In the earliest days of Deadpool, he was another soldier/victim of the Weapon X project. Marvel fans will know this as the same Canadian project that gave Wolverine his adamantium skeleton and series memory issues. Weapon X was later dubbed something else that I can’t recall. The X-Men started having run-ins with Weapon XI and the like, letting us know that Wolverine was 10th (X) in a series of attempts at creating the ultimate human weapon. That came a lot later, so I’ll try to keep on track with the beginning.
Deadpool was a paid assassin for Mr Tolliver, who sent Wade Wilson out to assassinate Cable, leader of X-Force, the new face for the New Mutants.
Does Wade Wilson sound like a familiar name to you? Perhaps you’ve heard of Slade Wilson? Or simply Slade from that Teen Titans cartoon of the past that you loved? Deathstroke, once known as The Terminator, was the basis for Deadpool. Someone at Marvel must have been having one of those days when they thought they could make a parody of a character from a rival publisher.
Deadpool began his Marvel career as a villain who was a joke of a DC villain. Villain…it even says so on his cards.
The film version takes plenty of time to remind you that Deadpool is not a hero. They refer to him as an anti-hero. A lot. They seem to be trying to warn you what movie you just walked into paying your hard-earned money to see. Deadpool’s non=heroics are discussed perhaps more than old Uncle Ben’s advice (do I need to quote it?). At some point the audience will have to simply say, “Okay, I get it, he’s not a hero.”
How Did This Guy Get His Own Movie?
I remember a limited series of Deadpool that ran in the early 90s. It seemed Marvel saw some potential in a wise cracking Merc With a Mouth. Spider-Man’s jokes were tame, so over time Deadpool’s jokes apparently grew a bit more….edgy. I don’t know when he became himself affiliated with X-Force, I don’t know when he started working WITH Cable, all I know is while I wasn’t paying attention to this character, he was starting to get some traction.
And after reading his part in the Marvel event Civil War, I saw some appeal to the character. He was a lunatic! He said funny things, talked directly to the reader (forgetting that other characters could hear him, and was exceptionally good at what he does.
With Marvel’s edgier tone, Wade Wilson was allowed to curse in the manner of a cartoon character. He could use all sorts of those weird things that happen when you hold shift and try to type in a number on your keyboard. His jokes must have gotten cruder with time as well, just based on what passed for humor in the film.
This was a character that came up from obscurity gaining a rabid fan base that never forgave 20th Century Fox for that weird monster they called Deadpool. They wanted restitution!
The movie in some of its funniest and cleverest moments makes fun of both the X-Men film franchise and it’s handling of Deadpool while sticking it to Ryan Reynolds’ past role as Green Lantern. These moments offered the only real laughs I had during the movie. And I expected an action comedy.
R is for Much More Than Violence and Language.
I went into this movie knowing it was going to be violent, very violent (actually less gore than I thought) with plenty of cursing flying as easily as blood droplets from a decapitated bad guy. I expected lots of laughs a some exciting action. Behind me sat a 12-year-old boy with his father and somewhere I saw a mother bringing in to pre-teen daughters. Didn’t they get the memo?
This movie has that in spades…but what it lacks is any real dept of story. This is a revenge movie, pure and simple. The villain is boring, the plot is thin, and the only really genuine moments come as Wade Wilson is diagnosed with cancer. Knowing that the fan base was going to be rabid enough to make this a hit, they decided to through eye candy(?) at us. Within the first 30 minutes is a gratuitous nude sex scene (full on softcore porn – the kid behind me exclaimed how much he liked this movie at this very moment), followed by multiple views of Ryan Reynolds posterior. And just to catch you off guard, our anti-hero goes looking for his ex-girlfriend in a strip club with plenty of full frontal nudity to distract you from the predictable plot device of “Let’s kidnap his girlfriend”. Sadly this is also the moment they chose to include Stan Lee as a strip club DJ.
To cure his cancer, Wade agrees to human experimentation that has nothing to do with the Weapon X project (or whatever they call it now). Research has apparently found a way to unlike mutation in supposedly normal humans. The problem is that in order to awaken that X-Gene (what, you thought the X-Men were named for Charles Xavier?) they have to expose the subject to extreme near death experiences. Non-stop torture. Okay, we get why Wade would find this upsetting. Worse off, the final effort completely disfigures Wade’s body. Oh…wait…you mean that’s what he’s most upset about? Yes! He toughs his way through the torture, but now he’s really upset because he’s (gasp) UGLY! The villain claims to be the only one who can correct this problem. I’m pretty sure no one in the audience believed this lie.
Oh, and who is this villain? He calls himself Ajax…but his real name is Francis…and he really doesn’t like anyone to know his name. Yup…that’s his motivation folks. Other than that he is creating mutant soldiers for sale to the highest bidder.
Meanwhile Wade escapes, left for dead, and tries to find Francis for revenge while struggling with being able to tell Vanessa (that ex-girlfriend I mentioned) why he just left in the middle of the night and why he looks like Freddy Kruger. We all know she’ll still love him despite his appearance…but of course they have to drag it out until the end to make us think there is a point to this movie.
Overall, this has a couple of fun moments, some great action, a great side character in Colossus (who I really was waiting to see), but a predictable and old story line with nudity to stupidity thrown in as an attempt to keep the audience awake.
Fox…please…unless you can keep up with the quality of Days of Future Past, give the mutants back to Marvel Studios.