Rhett Reese

Paul Whernick

Tim Miller

Movie Review
Deadpool:Written by the Real Heroes


Screenplay: Rhett Reese and Paul Whernick

Directed by: Tim Miller

Based on the Marvel universe’s most unconventional anti-hero and fan favourite, Deadpool tells the origin story of former Special Forces operative-turned-mercenary, Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds). Keeping true to the character’s comic-book roots, Deadpool is spectacularly foul-mouthed, anarchic and twisted, featuring some gory action, slapstick humour, and a precarious walk on the line of superhero morality.

After the comic-verse left some truly disastrous burns on Reynolds’ career in 2009 (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) and 2011 (The Green Lantern), one would imagine that this actor would have had just about enough of playing superheroes. Instead, he famously fought to both play and co-produce Deadpool in a brand new reboot, and boy, are we glad he stayed. In this much-anticipated 2016 release, we are pleasantly surprised to find that Reynolds isn’t just playing Deadpool: Ryan Reynolds, from here on out, is, effectively, Deadpool.

In visual effects artist Tim Miller’s directorial debut, Deadpool is unapologetically snarky, self-aware, self-referential, and self-destructive. Hilarious, mindless subversion abounds as Wilson bashes his own producers, rival studios, fellow Marvel characters, and Hollywood in general. Armed with twin katanas, biting sarcasm and a distinctive penchant for toilet humour, the ‘Merc with a Mouth’ is constantly reminding his audience, as he breaks the ‘fourth wall’ numerous times, that he isn’t your everyday superhero. Indeed, as one watches him slash away at his victims to an equally politically incorrect soundtrack pounding through the background (Tom Holkenborg), one realises that this movie is unlike any other film in the burgeoning comic-book genre.

As a supervillain that had been conceived in the early ‘90s – an era that was unabashedly unrepentant in its focus on pushing the limits on graphic violence and crude humour – Deadpool evolved to become a much-loved antihero, teaming up (and protesting loudly) with the X-Men on occasion. Writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick keep true to these roots, right down to the costume and diamond white eyes (Angus Strathie). Although the majority of the movie is comprised of bloody violence, frequent wisecracking, and a smidgeon of fart jokes for good measure, Deadpool has its dark and thought-provoking moments, too.

As Wade Wilson struggles to come to terms with being diagnosed with terminal cancer, a mysterious recruiter approaches him, claiming that he can cure his cancer. So of course, he decides to take the deal – because these agreements never turn awry… Right?

Wrong! screams the figurative facepalm, as we watch Wilson undergo untold torment at the hands of Ajax (Ed Skrein), the film’s unfeeling (quite literally; his nerves have been removed to improve pain endurance) prime antagonist, and Angel Dust (former MMA star Gina Carano), in a seedy underground lab. In a slight departure from the original Weapon-X program, this shady organisation offers Wilson the ‘cure’ to cancer by way of brutal experimentation meant to trigger a mutation and thus heal his illness. Although Wilson maintains his snarky personality throughout the torture, it is worth mentioning that audiences can actually sense his agony during the whole process. Long story short, the torture eventually triggers a mutation, though Wilson pays dearly for this in the form of a hideously scarred face and body, and the merc’s sardonic and mostly unhinged alter-ego, Deadpool, is born.

Quite often, Reynolds’ good looks appear to have hindered his acting career rather than accelerating it over the years, and this actor seems to have been more comfortable when plunged six feet underground (Buried) or in a fat-suit (Just Friends). In Deadpool, we find him either wearing a mask or buried under painstakingly detailed burn-victim makeup (Bill Corso), which enables Reynolds to truly embrace his wildly complicated character.

Perhaps one notable weakness that stems from his convincing performance is the fact that the supporting characters feel almost expendable in his shadow. Weasel (T.J. Miller) is disappointing and forgettable at best, though hardcore fans will know to expect more from him in future installments; Colossus’ noble Russian-ness seems a tad overdone (voiced by Stefan Kapicic); Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) seems fitting at first glance, though Hildebrand’s portrayal of the X-Men trainee mutant, combined with this character’s departure from her original comic book powers, comes across as shaky and disconnected towards the end; Blind Al (Leslie Uggams) is endearing, but again – forgettable. In stark contrast, Morena Baccarin plays Vanessa Carlysle – Deadpool’s love interest – brilliantly. Reynolds and Baccarin share an onscreen chemistry that has, over time, come to be overlooked in this modern genre (examples - Thor and Jane Foster, Tony Stark and Virginia Potts, etc.), and we look forward to seeing her transformation in future installments.

In spite of the brazen subversion, however, this movie does cover certain comic-verse stereotypes, such as Ajax’s undeniable British-ness (referenced simply in the humorous opening credits as “A British Villain”), or the “gratuitous” Stan Lee and Rob Liefeld cameos, revealing a dangerously thin storyline. Similarly, Deadpool’s incessant fourth-wall breaks can grow tiring after a while, and the majority of the film quickly becomes a frantic “WHERE’S FRANCIS?!” hunt as Wilson searches for the one man that can cure him of his disfigured appearance. There is, however, only so much room for sub-plots in an origin story.

Casting (Ronna Kress), editing (Julian Clarke) and set decoration (Shannon Gottlieb) are so-so, though Deadpool’s meager budget must be kept in mind (producer Simon Kinberg had to cut $7 million at the last minute to finally get the project greenlit). In spite of the budget cuts, however, cinematography (Ken Seng), special effects (Alex Burdett) and visual effects (Shaun Friedberg) seem relatively unaffected to the unsuspecting eye.

What is truly discouraging, however, is that a movie that has been so unapologetically in-your-face throughout its extensive marketing period, and so hilariously unremorseful in its non-family-friendly gore and raunchiness, cannot be fully enjoyed by Indian audiences. Indeed, numerous scenes have been carefully censored in order to provide a better viewing experience for full-grown adults who have consciously made the decision to purchase a ticket to watch said unapologetically in-your-face, gory, raunchy, A-rated film. So, unless you’re rather confident at lip-reading superheroes behind masks, figuring out what Deadpool just said onscreen is anyone’s guess. This action by the CBFC (a reported 7 cuts, some of these scenes crucial to understanding the overall flow of the film) and several mind-numbing censors to what we can only imagine were hilarious off-colour jokes, only serves to ruin what the writers have worked so hard to accomplish: a connection with their audience. 

Nonetheless, their no rules, no consequences, no-holds-barred attitude has certainly served them well, carving for themselves a niche in the well-oiled machine that has come to be Hollywood's live-action superhero genre. Armed with well-timed humour, spot on pop culture references, memorable punchlines and wickedly fresh material, writers Reese and Whernick have outdone themselves whilst remaining decidedly free from the standard superhero-film template. With Fox having already confirmed a sequel on the rise, we look forward to more of this filthily charming, game-changing franchise spearheaded by this duo, or, as Deadpool’s playful opening credits so fittingly refer to them: “The Real Heroes.” 


   Tina Mohandas

Tina Mohandas is a songwriter, musician, tattoo artist, vintage motorcycle collector, and animal rights activist. Having conducted several successful events in London, she is the founder of Inferno Events in India, and co-founder of Bikerhood India. Currently writing her debut fantasy/sci-fi novel, she hopes one day to free every caged animal in the world..

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