For our third annual (and fourth-ever) Viewer’s Choice BBQ, the voters took a bit of a departure from the previous three. We’d had our share of old classics (Sunset Blvd, Gojira), ’80s-’90s films (Back to the Future, Four Rooms, Best In Show) and even an obscure Italian film (I Am Love), but we hadn’t ever had a recent blockbuster – this year we got two.
The first was Deadpool, a comic book superhero film by Tim Miller in his directorial debut. (Now, I don’t really want to disparage the genre, but I’m not sure it really takes a talented auteur to make a comic book superhero movie…)
Now, I’m not super up-to-date with the whole comic book superhero thing (for instance, I needed Wikipedia to tell me that Deadpool is “Marvel Universe”) but it turns out that this film is basically an origin story for a character who is associated with the X-Men.
Deadpool starts out in the opening credits by basically announcing that it’s going to be a little bit more snarky than your average CBSH film. Believe me, it carries through the entire film.
Deadpool, for his part, is a superhero with some style. If you ignore the creepy blank white eyes, his suit is pretty keen and looks like it breathes well (especially after it gets some holes in it). But it’s not all about fashion – he’s a sarcastic, back-talking, fourth-wall-breaking superhero, and he starts the film by causing some pretty serious chaos on a bridge while trying to kill a man named Francis. More on why later.
The film really has its moments of feeling much more like an actual comic book than many CBSH films. The opening scene, where Deadpool counts down the number of bullets he has left, features the camera following each cartridge as it is ejected and each is imprinted with the countdown number where it would be struck by the firing pin…11…10…9… – exactly the sort of thing you can imagine sitting in an intermediate panel in a comic book.
Yet this movie, like so many other CBSH films, does have its share of problems with continuity. For instance, in the opening scene, Deadpool drops off of a bridge and into a motorcade that he chaosifies. But, in the midst of the chaos, somehow this motorcade ends up on top of the bridge again so that Deadpool is able to escape the X-Men by, once again, jumping off the bridge into traffic. Did I say “escape the X-Men”? I’m getting to it.
You see, as I said before this is basically an origin story. And the origin is told in flashback throughout the opening scene, so that by the time that Deadpool jumps off the bridge for the second time the movie is probably more than half over.
But the backstory goes like this: Wade Wilson is a snarky, dishonorably-discharged former Special Forces Ops guy who is working as a mercenary and who finds true love in the double-snarky Vanessa, who may or may not have been a prostitute but who was definitely played by Morena Baccarin, which probably counts as “out of his league”, even for Ryan Reynolds. Following a fairly creepy yearlong montage of holiday sex, Wade Wilson gets what would be characterized as “really bad cancer”. “Terminal” is a word we might use to describe it, but let’s not dwell on it because the movie sure doesn’t. Deadppol’s snarky exterior is hiding the classic insecurities and he can’t really deal with his impending death and how it’s going to affect Vanessa…so when he is approached by a shady character who says he can be cured, he signs up. (No, not without initially refusing and then changing his mind, you know how this works…)
It turns out that this cure business is really forced X-Men style mutation – put some blue goo and some yellow goo into a guy’s bloodstream, expose him to extreme stress, let him mutate into whatever he’s going to mutate into, put a control collar on him, and sell him to the highest bidder. The stress part is actually pretty sadistic, and it’s run by Ajax (the mutant formerly known as Francis) and Angel Dust, both of whose mutations appear to be super strength. Ajax has some sort of supersensitivity thing going too, so he has had all of his nerve endings cauterized (really? ALL of them?) rather than just take a bunch of Benadryl or something.
Wade Wilson’s mutation turns out to be perpetual Pizza Face with a dose of Wolverine-style regeneration. This, of course, kills his cancer…but how did Ajax know that was going to be his mutation? Plot hole! Eh. Whatever.
Due to the extreme antipathy developed between the two, Wilson (who takes the superhero name Deadpool after a death pool run by his local mercenary bartender) and Sir Francis Ajax become fast enemies. And so you get what we had here on the bridge.
Before Deadpool can finish the job on the bridge, however, a couple of X-Men lackeys (Colossus, who I actually had to look up to figure out his name, and a character who introduced herself as Negasonic Teenage Warhead and whose real name is…yeah, it’s Negasonic Teenage Warhead, so at least this comic book franchise doesn’t take itself seriously), well these lackeys show up because they believe that Deadpool has a heart of gold and they are trying to convince him to join the X-Men. As a result of their showing up, Ajax escapes, followed by Deadpool escaping, followed by the inevitable ending, which goes something like this:
Before the facially and emotionally scarred Deadpool can approach his old flame Vanessa, Ajax kidnaps here and takes her away to the largest and most grandiose set that the director could think of, which appears to be a massive cargo ship in construction. Of course, this under-construction cargo ship is already laden with shipping containers because it’s never too soon, right? Anyway Deadpool now hooks up with Colossus and Sega’sSonic the Hedgehog and there’s a big fight which results in the cargo ship being utterly destroyed, and Ajax being caught, and Deadpool declining to offer the mercy that Colossus suggests, and Vanessa being rescued and the two lovers reuniting despite his pizza face. The End.
Except for the Ferris Bueller’s Day Off ripoff at the end of the credits. Like almost word for word. OK, now it’s over. Go home.
The worst part of this movie is that it’s a CBSH movie, and all that comes along with that. The best part is that the snarky fourth-wall breaking is entertaining. For instance, why is the X-Men castle completely empty except for two lackey X-Men? The movie itself admits it’s because they couldn’t afford to pay anybody. (But it really DID look stupid.) The bartender wishes Deadpool well on his way to the final fight, saying “I’d go with you, but I really don’t want to.” So it was entertaining. But REALLY formulaic and I’m really desperately waiting for the shine to come off of CBSH movies (and zombie movies and vampire movies and I’m sure there are others…)