Perhaps I went into “Deadpool” with expectations that were too high. A product of 20th Century Fox (which by my count has made a whopping total of two quality superhero movies) with a rookie director and a lead notorious for his poor acting? The onus should have been on me to suspect that this wasn’t going to be a masterpiece. But for whatever reason, I expected something more out of “Deadpool” and was bitterly disappointed when I found it one of the most utterly mediocre film experiences of my life. Dry and shockingly joyless in its execution, crass but not terribly funny, the problems with “Deadpool” were myriad, not the least of which was its utter failure to live up to its promise as a fresh, satirical take on the superhero genre.
At the end of the day, despite its aggressive marketing campaign and rabid fanboys doing everything in their power to tell you that “this is not your average superhero movie,” “Deadpool” was just another cut-and-dry origin story the likes of which we have seen a thousand times over. Guy gets superpowers through an unfortunate mishap or difficult situation, guy’s girlfriend gets captured, guy has to go rescue her and exact vengeance on the man who wronged him. Does that sound like a particularly compelling plot to you? If it does, chances are you’ll love this movie; if you are looking for something more creative and original, you’ll probably be just as bored as I was.
Yes, I said bored. We’ve reached the point of critical mass with superhero movies in Hollywood where it is possible, even likely, for them to be dull. There’s no great spectacle anymore to these types of films, no anticipation or buildup to see your favorite childhood heroes brought to life on the big screen; there are just too many of these movies out there. But “Deadpool” was supposed to be different. He’s meta, breaking the fourth wall left and right, cracking jokes like an X-rated Spiderman. He’s cool, owner of arguably the most visually impressive abilities that can be shown on the big screen: a supercharged healing ability and gravity-defying martial arts prowess. And he’s violent, performing the kind of logical extreme violence that is so often whitewashed in the stories of mainstream heroes. If there was any movie that I thought could break my superhero lethargy, this was it, which makes it all the more sad that it was such a creative flop.
What went wrong exactly? The story was a huge issue that I have already touched on. Based on the type of character he is, I thought “Deadpool” probably would have been a stronger film with no linear or traditional type plot at all. Make no mistake, this was a mindless action movie, and that means the more action scenes the better. Whenever there weren’t a lot of moving parts on screen, it lacked the substance to keep me interested, like during the middle act when the origin story was hashed out and we were subjected to Deadpool’s painfully slapstick home life. The humor was something out of an eighth grader’s comedic repertoire, chock full of dick jokes, ugly jokes, frequent expletives and all the other hallmarks of an immature mind. I’m not heartless, the movie did get some laughs out of me (certainly more than the MCU movies tend to) but there was nothing here that was particularly memorable. A saving grace existed in the casting of Ryan Reynolds, performing above his usual wooden standard, whose sardonic wit and undeniable charm made him a perfect fit for the lead. The camerawork and fight choreography were excellent as well but I couldn’t help but feel cheated at the lost potential. This could have been Marvel’s version of “Kickass,” Matthew Vaughn’s excellent flick from 2010 that was everything “Deadpool” wanted to be, only cooler, raunchier, more original and more stylish. Instead it was standard fare with blood and curse words.
If you want to see “Deadpool” and have yet to do so, make sure you go into it with the proper expectations. Recognize that it’s not a mature movie but rather a middle school boy’s wet dream and perhaps you will be less disappointed than I was.