Deadpool (2016)

*. I mentioned in my notes on Ant-Man that it could be seen as a trial run for Deadpool. Both films mark a definite turn in the Marvel Comic Universe toward comedy and self-referential knowingness. “This superhero stuff,” they’re saying, “it’s really all a joke.”
*. So we can have hipster heroes: scruffy, good-looking guys (Ryan Reynolds and Paul Rudd might be interchangeable in the two parts) with disconcertingly buff physiques and heads stuffed with defunct cultural touchstones that they adopt ironically.
*. Basically Deadpool just takes all of this much further and adds a lot of freestyle sex and what Colossus (he’s the big steel guy who speaks with a Russian accent) calls “language.” I think this is what’s considered making a comic-book movie adult. Or “adult.”
*. The knowingness of Ant-Man has metastasized, breaking the fourth wall into pieces. Indeed, there are even jokes about breaking the fourth wall to pieces. It’s very meta.

*. And yet for all this cleverness, is this a better superhero movie?
*. Ryan Reynolds has a lot of charm, but then so do most of the Marvel leading men. Paul Judd has charm. Chris Hemsworth. Robert Downey Jr. It’s a prerequisite. I wasn’t as blown away by Reynolds in this movie as much as a lot of people were, but he’s fun to watch.

*. The effects are well done, with painstaking attention to detail. You can even see the messy skid marks on the underwear of the mook Deadpool is giving a wedgie to in the opening credit sequence. And the idea of beginning the story in medias res helps get over the hump of the now exhausted origin-story arc.
*. As in Ant-Man, however, the villain (or “British villain,” as the ironic opening credits have it) is a bore. I couldn’t understand what the whole business of building superheroes in a kind of genetic chop-shop was about. The more I think about it, the less sense it makes. Then, once it gets going, the story is so predictable we need the in-jokes and other stuff to keep our minds off of just how routine it all is.

*. The unmasked Deadpool doesn’t look that bad, which is something I had a bit of a problem with. No doubt he’s a burn victim, but it seems mostly superficial. Not the kind of thing you’d gawk at in the street, as the people do here. It seems like the movie makes way too big a thing out of this.
*. It’s also bizarre that Deadpool thinks that Francis is going to be able to “cure” his skin problem. Surely he’s smart enough to realize that the only cure would be some kind of plastic surgery. Though I was left wondering why, if he can grown back entire appendages (like a hand) and heal holes blown in his body, he can’t just reform new skin with his mutant healing power.

*. Again we have this fascination with torture. Today’s movies, whether they be action films or horror flicks or even historical dramas, seem addicted to this kind of thing. I wonder what broader cultural forces are driving it. Guantanamo and the War on/of Terror is too easy an answer. I think it goes deeper than that, but I don’t know where it all comes out.
*. I liked Deadpool well enough, but I think a lot of the response went overboard. It’s clever, well turned out, and put together in an original (at least for a Marvel movie) kind of way. Aside from all the knowing looks and dirty talk though I didn’t think it was that special. It also seems to me that Marvel may be painting themselves into a corner with this sort of thing. But . . . probably not. It will take more than irony to kill this money machine. Nevertheless, surely some end — some real end, without a post-credit teaser — there must be.

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