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VanDyke: ‘Deadpool’ brings refreshing change to the comic book movie universe

Josh VanDyke • Feb 20, 2016 at 8:59 PM

The character Deadpool may look like a modern spin-off of Spiderman in appearance, but that’s about where the similarities end. The often-vulgar, quick-witted mercenary disguised as a superhero is the subject of the latest Marvel comic-based movie to hit the big screen.

Unlike the Ironman or Captain America franchises, the movie “Deadpool” is more of a dark comedy immersed in graphic violence and action-packed fight scenes.

The movie feels like a long running inside joke between the movie characters and the audience. This is evident as soon as the credits begin to roll, presenting movie clichés like “hot chick” and “British villain” instead of the actual names of the actors and actresses.

Anyone looking for the usual superhero characteristics of sophistication, morals and virtues will be disappointed by this movie. Deadpool is no Boy Scout. He is sophomoric antihero that takes pleasure in pointing out how lame superheros and their code of conduct can be, all while turning a common enemy into road kill.

The comic book character Deadpool was created in the ‘90s, during a time in which most comic book creators wanted to see just how far they could push the envelope in terms of graphic violence and sex.

Those elements were brought out pretty clearly in the movie, with scenes of both mixed in unapologetically throughout the film’s chaotic pace.

Ryan Reynolds was a perfect fit for this role, as his lewd sense of humor and charisma mirror that of the comic book character. It’s nice to see him get another crack as a superhero after “Green Lantern” was such an unabashed failure.

Reynolds plays Wade Wilson, a former Special Forces operative turned mercenary who, after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, submits himself to a rogue science experiment. After a multitude of torturous tests aimed at kick starting his mutation, Wilson gains superhuman healing abilities, but is also left badly disfigured.

Wilson embraces his new identity as “Deadpool” and seeks out vengeance on Ajax, the laboratory’s leader, while also dealing with an internal struggle to seek out his fiancé who he abandoned to seek treatment.

The actual plot of “Deadpool” isn’t unlike most superhero movies, but what helps it break the mold is the raunchy main character and the way the story is presented.

Throughout the movie, Deadpool breaks the fourth wall between the character and the audience. This helps him openly mock the entire genre he lives in with off-color jokes and pop culture references.

The origin story of Deadpool is told in such a way that it avoids the major flaw in most superhero origin movies — the actual superhero being absent for half the film. The movie starts with Deadpool involved in a highway chase and weaves in periodic flashbacks to the past to help the audience understand why the present-day antihero is the way he is.

This helps hide the film’s major flaw, its supporting cast of characters. There’s no supervillan from another planet or a bionic billionaire in a rocket suit. The main antagonist of the film is a man who can’t feel pain — not exactly a scary superpower.

Even the X-men cameos are underwhelming.

Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead have their moments, but it would have been entertaining to see the feud between Deadpool and Wolverine, which was introduced in the “Wolverine” origin story film, play out from Deadpool’s point of view.

The film is ultimately carried by Reynolds portrayal of Deadpool in a plot that is essentially a fight scene, a kidnapping and a rescue attempt. Regardless of the simplistic nature of the plot, I found the film refreshing in its ability to break away from endless number of “Superhero saves the world” type movies that have been produced in recent years.

It will be interesting to see where the franchise goes from here, but I think it’s safe to say that the road will filled with filthy, lecherous one-liners and gory violence.

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