Deadpool proved R rated superhero movies could be successful as long as enough Maximum Effort was put into it. All things considered, there’s no way Deadpool should have worked out the way that it did. R rated superhero movies were pretty common in the 90’s and 2000’s. They just weren’t always successful. And if they were, they weren’t adaptations of major characters. I had no knowledge of Deadpool before seeing X-Men Origins: Wolverine. So I didn’t begin to hate its extremely unfaithful interpretation until I learned more. Deadpool is a totally 90’s Mutate who first appeared as a villain in The New Mutants #98. Before becoming an instant fan favorite anti-hero. Deadpool is more than just a parody of Deathstroke. His snarky sense of humor and yellow fourth wall breaking speech bubbles were perfectly unique.
Despite his large superhero filmography, Ryan Reynolds always wanted to play Deadpool. Even if it meant playing a horribly inaccurate version. 20th Century Fox initially agreed to a more faithful R rated Deadpool, but then Green Lantern complicated things. Since it was impossible to rework it as a PG-13 movie, Fox foolishly scrapped the project. Until someone was brave enough to leak the CGI test footage. Like everyone else, the clip was so funny and violent that I wanted to see more. I got an even better grasp of Deadpool after reading a couple of comics, but I still couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The same studio and actor that butchered the character, bringing a faithful, gleefully R rated niche superhero to life…
Deadpool came out at a time when superhero movies were hugely successful. Between the family friendly PG-13 rating of the MCU and inaccurate costumes of most Fox superheroes, Deadpool was a major exception. Ryan Reynolds was born to play Deadpool. And not just because he’s Canadian. I felt like I already knew Deadpool long before his movie ever came out. Due to the aggressively clever marketing campaign. It was impossible to avoid Deadpool either popping up in trailers, doing a PSA for cancer, appearing in interviews, doing a lead up to Christmas, having unconventional billboards, or feuding on social media. It got to a point where I was almost tired of Deadpool before even seeing the movie. Of course I was proven wrong afterwards. It’s a good thing I was 20, because I’d seen every X-Men movie in theaters since I was 5. There’s no way I would have wanted to see Deadpool with my parents. It’s always annoying seeing parents take their kids to something that’s clearly not for kids. Even if it looks like a conventional superhero movie on the outside.
Deadpool is very much an R rated comedy. Some jokes are a bit crude for my taste, but most of the profanity latent one-liners are hilarious. As are the fourth wall breaking observations about superhero clichés, Marvel, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Green Lantern, and Reynolds himself. Along with a handful of 90’s references. Although there’s an uncomfortably scarce amount of chimichangas. The perfect opening credits showcase a freeze frame of creator Rob Liefeld’s coffee, a picture of Green Lantern, Ryan Reynolds as the “Sexiest Man Alive,” and an honest description of the cast & crew. All to the inappropriate tune of “Angel of the Morning.” Deadpool is still an origin story, but it’s intercut with a recreation of the leaked test footage. From its red & black mock Spider-Man design to his use of guns & katanas, Deadpool is a Fox owned superhero that actually leaps off the page. The badass costume looks awesome and the white eyes work surprisingly well.
Deadpool is so cheap that he has to take a taxi to his enemies. Dopinder is fun, but he’s not from the comics. To the tune of “Schoop,” Deadpool crassly informs the audience that Wolverine helped get him his own movie. Hugh Jackman may not physically appear, but his presence is felt throughout. The use of his “Sexiest Man Alive” magazine is a particular highlight. I think I prefer the random chaos of the test footage, but the recreated highway fight is just as inappropriately funny. The R rating is put to good use when henchmen are shot, stabbed, and dismembered in the most over-the-top way possible. Deadpool’s accelerated healing means he can be mutilated any creative way without consequence. The countdown gunfight and subsequent sheskabobing directly leads to the first of many flashbacks.
Like the comics, Wade Wilson is an ex-special forces mercenary with a mouth. He gets his pay from a bar filled with other mercs that take part in a dead pool. Most of Deadpool’s obscure supporting cast appears in the film. T.J. Miller plays his friend/comic foil Weasel and Leslie Uggams is his sarcastic elderly roommate Blind Al. Deadpool has had many sexual conquests in the past, but the movie settles on Vanessa as his love interest. She’s sort of a discount Mystique in the comics, but here she’s a hooker with a heart of gold. Morena Baccarin fast became a welcome presence in superhero projects. Wade’s relationship with Vanessa is humorous, but it is taken seriously. After a steamy, sort of cringy holiday sex montage, Wade proposes shortly before discovering he has late stage cancer.
Back in the present, Colossus sees a report of Deadpool’s violent shenanigans on TV in the X-Mansion. This version of Colossus is very comic book accurate. He has the giant metal CGI body, Russian accent, and acts as a noble member of the X-Men. Negasonic Teenage Warhead is his trainee. She’s an extremely obscure Mutant that was only added for her cool name. More bizarre is that her powers were changed after striking an unrelated deal with Marvel. Deadpool’s primary antagonist is Ajax. One of his long time enemies with a high pain tolerance. Ed Skrein is your standard British villain. Like in the comics, Wade volunteers for an experimental Weapon X type procedure that’ll make him a superhero. As long as the super suit isn’t green or animated. The physically imposing Gina Carano is Angel Dust, another Mutant working with Ajax. Expect Ajax real name is Francis. Something Wade mocks until his Mutation is unlocked through torture.
I guess his disfigured face is hideous, but it’s nothing compared to how gruesome he looks in the comics. Pretty much the entire revenge plot consists of Wade finding Francis so that he can fix his face and return to Vanessa. The funniest scene for me personally is Deadpool attempting to fight Colossus after he and Negasonic arrive in the X-Jet. Even funnier is Deadpool cutting off his hand before another flashback. After Weasel’s constant face jokes, Wade gets his name from the dead pool board. Then he murders several criminals, makes his costume, and begins breaking the fourth wall. Eventually everything comes together and Wade decides to give Vanessa a chance. He goes to her strip club where they take full advantage of the R rating by showing several naked ladies. It’s one of Stan Lee’s funniest cameos as the stripper MC. Unfortunately, Vanessa is kidnapped and Deadpool loads up his arsenal of guns to kill Francis. He also recruits Colossus & Negasonic while making a joke about the studios obvious lack of money for other X-Men members.
They all take a taxi to what looks suspiciously like a Helicarrier. Cue “X Gon’ Give it to Ya,” followed by Deadpool hilariously forgetting his guns. Angel Dust makes a totally impractical superhero landing and fights Colossus in a brutal fight. Meanwhile, Negasonic blows things up. Deadpool cuts through everyone expect for the sneaky use of Bob (Agent of Hydra). Deadpool fights Francis and narrowly rescues Vanessa. Although Colossus gives a passionate speech about being a hero, Deadpool just abruptly kills Francis. Proving Deadpool is the anti-hero we know him to be. Vanessa crudely accepts Wade’s face and they croon to “Careless Whisper.” Followed by a clever after-credits parody of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, a Nick Fury joke, and confirmation of Cable. Deadpool has all the R rated insanity I hoped to see from an adaptation like this. Even with a lower budget, it became the highest grossing R rated movie internationally, and earned a whole new legion of fans. I just wish studios didn’t use its success as an excuse to give other properties an unnecessary R rating. Deadpool worked because a passionate cast & crew were dedicated to making the most faithful superhero adaptation they could.