I finally got around to seeing Deadpool. It took me a while because, well, Deadpool’s treatment has been inconsistent. Probably not unexpected given that Rob Liefeld was the creator of the character. Consistency has never been Liefeld’s strong suit (thigh pouches and guns are his strong suit). It was a really good time at the movies (and not just because the Alamo Drafthouse has fried pickles and beer).
At his best, the Merc with a Mouth is acerbic, hyperviolent, funny and clever. He can provide a frequently needed ribbing to counterpoint super-serious and melodramatic superheroes. His ability to break the fourth wall (an ability shared by She-Hulk) is the key to the self-aware lampooning. At his worst, however, Deadpool is like crossing 4chan with I Can Haz Cheezburger memes. The juvenile “randumb” cringe . . . I don’t find that so palatable. And the Deadpool template of wackiness is so quick to be jammed in with other properties that the ratio of crap-Deadpool to good-Deadpool is not good.
Fortunately, mega-fan Ryan Reynolds brought us a movie chock full of the first. It was clever, it was hyperviolent, it was sarcastic and self-aware enough to be a really good time. There was also a lot of creative profanity. Like Ralphie’s Old Man, Deadpool weaves a tapestry of dirty words that is breathtaking. Kind of beautiful and poetic actually. Given that in the past few months we’ve had a collection of grimdark heroics (Jessica Jones, Daredevil S2, Batman vs Superman), the unmitigated fun is refreshing.
Deadpool gives the cliched archetypes of superhero movies a much needed deflating of the ego. And it starts right out of the gate with characters like Some Moody Teen and CGI Character. If The Avengers recalled the awesomeness of playing with your action figures as you ate sugared cereal in front of cartoons, Deadpool is like really, really well done fanfiction. The kind that makes you appreciate how silly and melodramatic heroes can be.
All that being said, Deadpool isn’t breaking any new ground. (They initially tried to sell it as the first “hard R” superhero movie, but there are many comic book movies – most notably The Crow – that were rated R before this). It’s a popcorn-munching fun time and that is exactly what it’s trying to be.
So why did I nearly miss this fun time? The marketing. Fox gave Deadpool a small budget to begin with and then took away $7 million from that budget. This left very little for marketing. The marketing approach basically seemed to be “bombard niche fans with the date and appeal to the lowest common denominator with testicle references.” And that’s forgiveable. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a woman who loves a good dick joke and ass-kicking movie. But that’s the thing, I’m a woman. As far as the marketing push was concerned, the only way I’d go and see it is if the man in my life tricked me into thinking it was a romantic comedy starring Ryan Reynolds.
I’m not asking geek media to pander to me, but it would be nice if it could keep from trying to actively offend my sensibilities.
Hopefully the inevitable sequel will be just as clever as the first one was.