Movie Review: Deadpool

Perhaps I can be excused for being a little bit late to this particular party.  As nearly everyone who would watch this film is likely aware of, Deadpool was an immensely successful summer blockbuster for its witty and wisecracking and irreverent anti-hero, who had played an important supporting role in the first Wolverine origins film and got his own origins film here.  This review is not written in order to support or to criticize this film, either to drive more business to it or seek to warn people away from it.  Rather, this particular review is meant to explain what it is about Deadpool that resonates so strongly with contemporary audiences, and how easily it could have gone disastrously wrong in the face of a less sympathetic audience than it found. It is to be hoped that no one reading this assumes that I did not appreciate the witty wicecracks of Deadpool or his beloved Vanessa, or that the crassness of its town made it completely without value as entertainment, but I am not the sort of person who is content to be entertained, I must seek to understand and be understood.

For those who are not aware, or do not mind the reminder, Deadpool is a film with a strong sense of irony. Its hero is a wise-cracking person fond of random non-sequitors, clever song references, and breaking the fourth wall. This tone is set from the very beginning with the opening credits that give the cliche roles of the various characters, including British villain and comic relief, while also praising the screenwriters and calling the director an “overpaid ***hat.”  Make no mistake, this film wears its crudity on its sleeve, like the way that adorable but immature and irresponsible children often love playing in the dirt and mud. The story itself begins in media res, before engaging in a series of flashbacks to show the origin of the two main plots of the film, its love story where Deadpool is insecure about his hideous looks after his rogue treatment for cancer with a top-secret organization, and its revenge story about Deadpool seeking to wreck vengeance on the person who turned him into the monster he feels like today.  The first plot shows Deadpool to be very shy and quite timid, despite his obvious wittiness and good humor, something I found I could relate to alarmingly well.  Even his taste in women cannot be faulted–he and Vanessa engage in a competition about how rough their backgrounds were, including child abuse and deprivation, in ways that I found alarmingly close to my own awkward courtships.  This was not a level of identification I was expecting to see in a movie, it must be freely confessed.

And yet, ultimately, it is a combination of traits that made this film such a success. In a less cynical time, the fourth wall breaking [1] anti-hero tendencies of this film’s protagonist would have resonated less. In a more innocent time, it would have been less poignant and sympathetic that the hero’s crasness and sexual openness likely resulted at least in part from incest and child abuse. In a less violent society, the film’s brutal depiction of violence would have been less entertaining.  We do live in a time, though, where sexual abuse is a fairly rampant problem and where casual violence is a major aspect of our entertainment.  This does not feel like a film that will age well, or that will be able to be viewed generations from now without some sort of commentary in order to explain its references and its relevance to our society at this particular time.  In fact, its soundtrack is likely to age far better than the film itself, with its ironically chosen songs like Juice Newton’s “Angel of the Morning.” Even so, it is easy to see given the film’s combination of a warm heart, a pervading sense of irony, and a firm willingness to prove authenticity by wallowing in the mire, that this film fits the times in which we live. Whether that says good things about us and about this film or not I leave to the reader to decide.  My own thoughts on that matter are likely irrelevant.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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4 Responses to Movie Review: Deadpool

  1. Pingback: Movie Review: Hail Caesar | Edge Induced Cohesion

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