Words by: Jack Dawson
Well, another year, another astoundingly inappropriate movie to watch on Valentine’s Day. But whereas last year it was 50 Shades of Grey, a miserable experience that spoke to the worst impulses of romance in film and fetishized abusive tactics, this year it’s an anarchic romp replete with ultra-violence and a near infinite supply of fun.
After more than 20 years of existence, the fourth-wall-breaking memetic Merc with a Mouth finally gets a cinematic outing…
… Well a less awful cinematic outing at least.
Deadpool is many things, an antihero, an arguable copycat of Deathstroke, aware of the fourth wall and the audience watching him, but finally he is a leading man. After signing up for a controversial treatment for cancer, back when he was just Wade Wilson and not a costumed crusader, Deadpool discovered he was a mutant, specifically one who could heal from any injury. Given that this controversial treatment was deeply traumatic, and that it separated him from his long-term lady love, he has some ill will towards the British villain (because of course he’s British) who was in charge of it.
So now, despite being entirely unsuited to the role of Superhero, Deadpool has to suit up and take revenge, and perhaps save somebody while he’s at it.
I was being more than a little snide when I called this movie an inappropriate movie for Valentine’s day, it’s actually remarkably well-suited for a romantic occasion. Certainly it’s a thousand times more romantic than 50 Shades of Grey ever was, and even displays a better understanding of BDSM than 50 Shades of Grey did.
At the very beginning, Deadpool states that this movie is actually a love story, and I’ll be damned if he isn’t right. Usually that’s a red flag for superhero movies, since stock standard Hollywood romances tend to be a cancerous poison to any movie, let alone an ultraviolent action film. But the romance here isn’t just the emotional heart of the film, it provides some of the best jokes, and succeeds in raising the stakes in the finale. It’s part of what makes Deadpool such a charismatic film, and the effort to balance the crude humour with a genuinely sweet (if crude) romance is strongly appreciated.
The more I think about Deadpool in fact, the more I realise how much I like about it. The over the top humour is to my taste, the action is well-directed and cartoonish enough to have fun with, and its probably the most authentic looking superhero movie I’ve ever seen (It’s one of the only ones where they actually have the ‘blank white eyes while wearing a mask’ look).
It’s just a damn good movie, and my regard for it only rose when I learned that the film-makers had to slash 7 million dollars from its already meagre budget two days before shooting began. Considering the kind of train wreck that usually results from such executive decisions, I’m inclined to be forgiving of the movie’s flaws.
And there are flaws in Deadpool.
For one thing, the villain isn’t terribly interesting or compelling, which would have propelled the movie into being Great rather than merely Really Good. Some more time with the supporting cast would have benefitted the film, especially since all of them are compelling characters in their own right. I’m also not sure that Deadpool is an ideal character to share a universe with the X-Men, the violence and general tone don’t entirely gel with the more dour X-Men films, though they both successfully tap into the spirit of Horror films at points. But there really isn’t much else to criticise about Deadpool, if only because it has little ambition besides presenting the best possible version of its character to the audience. It succeeds beyond any and all expectations, and fans of the character can look forward to various shout outs and references to Deadpool and his time as a comic book character.
And for what it’s worth, I’d try taking a date to watch this, you both might be surprised.