Ever heard of a place called Development Hell? In case your answer is no, allow me to elaborate on that term: When a movie is being rumored for years and years but hasn’t received an exact release date or even a date they start shooting that movie is considered to be in “Development Hell”. Every now and often a news article might pop up about how a new writer is commissioned to write a script or the owner of a property makes some vague comments about a movie being developed. The reasons why a movie is stuck in “Development Hell” varies, but almost all reasons have one common denominator: the studio is afraid it will lose money on the project. Only once in a while does a movie manage to get out of Development Hell and Deadpool is one of those movies.
You might remember the character of Deadpool from the abysmal X-men Origins: Wolverine released in 2009. He was played by Ryan Reynolds in a way that infuriated fans of the character: it was a totally different depiction compared to the character in the comics. The Deadpool from the comics was a mercenary who was aware he was a comic book character. He broke the fourth wall often and quipped more puns than Spider-man does. The Deadpool depicted in Wolverine was only Deadpool in name, ironically he even gets his mouth sewed at one point. Since then a solo Deadpool movie was rumored but the critical failure of Wolverine, the reaction of the audience (fans) to the character and the fact that making a movie about Deadpool would require a lot of comic book movie conventions to be tossed out of the window made it difficult for the movie to be green lit. Deadpool actor Reynolds was vocal about wanting a second chance to get the character right, but it wasn’t until some “leaked” test footage garnered a positive buzz making the movie studio green lit the movie albeit on a relatively small budget for a comic book movie.
The gamble they took paid off.
When I saw the test footage I didn’t really thought it would work and even when the actual trailers appeared I always had some restraint put to my expectations: It was either going to be a totally awesome or an incredibly annoying experience. Luckily Deadpool turned out to be a really fun movie, one that as I’m writing this is on its way to become one of the highest grossing 2D R-rated movies released. Not bad for a movie stuck in Development Hell for so long.
On paper Deadpool is like many other superhero movies. An ex-mercenary with terminal cancer is offered a cure at a costly price. They cure him from his cancer, but he’s been given extraordinary powers: he can heal himselfand grow back any limb taken from him. The only downside to this cure is that he’s horribly disfigured. Nothing new here you might say: Wolverine and several other comic book characters have the same healing power and the disfigured element is as old as The Phantom Of The Opera and one of the defining elements of Fantastic Four‘s The Thing. What makes Deadpool unique is the fact that he’s aware that he’s a fictional character. This allows him to break the fourth wall by talking to the audience or even adjusting the camera. It gives the writers the possibility to not only make a decent superhero movie, but also a spoof at the same time. Deadpool refers to his previous depiction in Wolverine, he questions the timeline of the X-men movies, comments on Ryan Reynolds’ acting capabilities, refers to The Green Lantern (another superhero character played by Reynolds) and so forth. During the entire brisk running time of a mere 100 minutes, a breath of fresh air in a time where every blockbuster and comedy supposedly has to run somewhere between 130 and 160 minutes, Deadpool is funny, full of action and in general one of the few movies about a comic book character that actually gets the character right.
Much has been said about the R-rating. Some parents even protesting it because their 14 year old can’t go. I think it’s a wise choice. Studios like to cater to the entire family if possible in order to be increase their profit, but some properties shouldn’t be tamed down in order to receive a PG-13 rating. Deadpool revels in his R-rating making this one of those few superheroes who actually kills his enemies, and often in a graphical fashion.
Deadpool makes up for last year’s extremely disappointing Fantastic Four movie, but does have some small issues of its own. The movie has just two action sequences which have been featured in the trailer. This can be blamed on the relatively low budget, something which Deadpool comments on when he notices there are just two X-Men in the entire X-mansion, but the creators have taken the ingenious route by splitting the first action scene on the bridge up into multiple segments and Deadpool narrating his origin story in between.
I had a blast watching Deadpool. Here’s finally a superhero movie that doesn’t require our hero to save the world, or has to be realistic and grim because that worked so great for Batman, or has to have a fourth act full of twists and turns to make it feel more epic. Deadpool is a Steven Seagal movie disguised as a comic book movie. Bad guys torture guy, guy wants wants payback, bad guys kidnap said guy’s girlfriend, guy now really wants payback. There’s nothing more to Deadpool in terms of story and it’s the right amount of story for this character. Deadpool shows us that bigger isn’t always better and at the same time would use that saying as a reference to his penis.