rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers,
adopting the alter ego Deadpool.
When James Gunn proved the point, Marvel actually paid attention. And well done to them for realising something that the rest of us have known for some time. Superhero movies can be funny, sassy, action-packed and furthermore, ridiculously smart. Until Guardians of the Galaxy came along, sure, Marvel were still making jaw-dropping (albeit obvious) projects, but it wasn’t until the very moment that Starlord danced across a planet during the opening titles of that movie, that the rest of us realised the actual true potential of all that heavy-handed, golden-gloved cinematic prowess.
Bars were raised and expectations increased. The likes of us that had previously viewed superhero movies with, if not disdain, then incredulous, cocked-headed wtf?-ness, were forced to admit that there may be more to this behemoth than just the ability to print money and make shiny things go bang.
And with the release of Deadpool, Marvel and Tim Miller, not to mention the enviable scriptwriting talents of Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, have cemented what has only recently become an accepted fact; Marvel can make proper movies too, even if there is still spandex in them.
Arguably, you might suggest that Deadpool was one of those potential releases that could do nothing but become a huge success. The aggressive fanboy gushing was already in place before the film was even announced, as the character was already well-loved in comic book form and had even had one fleeting outing on screen already. As far as Marvel devotees were concerned, this was about as obvious as giving Minions their own movie only twenty minutes into watching Despicable Me.
Shoe-in Ryan Reynolds as Wade Wilson/Deadpool was inspired casting. The kind of casting, in fact, that you only realise how obvious it is after the fact. Even before the conclusion of the first act, it was already difficult to imagine anyone else who could inhabit the role with quite so much relish, panache and deadpan style. Not many a-list Hollywood stars would be able to pull off Wilson’s persona, by turns melancholy, gutter humour and razor-sharp smarts.
But before you go thinking that this is not for you, or that the now tried and tested Marvel template has been overlooked for something more substantial, you need not fear, as whilst Deadpool skirts ever so slightly tangentially away from familiarity, the plot is both well-trodden and undemanding. The proscenium may well be breached here on more occasions than there are jokes about it to laugh at and that is part of the charm as much as anything else, even with Wilson going so far as to make a crack about Ryan Reynolds, the movie star, which, not for the first time, caused a snigger laced with suitable amounts of irony.
This helplessly ties its colours to the X-Men canon and a couple of these guys are on hand to help Deadpool out of his most difficult predicaments, which bodes well for future Marvel plans, as it is not too difficult to imagine that “McAvoy or Stewart” wisecrack coming back to haunt our (anti)hero, fingers crossed.
Ultimately, this was never really going to do anything but be a huge tentpole success for Marvel, but few could have maybe predicted quite the business it has achieved, even without Chinese market influence. What is maybe more surprising is the way that Deadpool has scooped and hoovered audience demographics that would maybe not have been initially engaged. The marketing was no more aggressive (and noticeably less than in some cases) than previous triple A titles from the studio, which makes it all the more impressive.
Thumbs up for Reynolds especially, who puts in a great turn, but the real hat-tipping should go to Reese and Wernick who provided its soul. If this wasn’t as tightly-scripted, this would have felt like a very different beast, lacking its fangs. My second favourite Marvel movie. It’s okay Starlord, the title is safe for now.