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Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

March 2, 2016

Deadpool Electrifies the Marvel Universe

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Deadpool has electrified Marvel fans since the film’s announcement. The wisecracking “Merc with a Mouth” — whose real name is Wade Wilson — unprecedentedly secured a movie all to himself, despite his relatively narrow fan base and lackluster appearance in 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The film actually uses these original failures to its advantage. In Deadpool, the fourth wall is broken numerous times in an attempt  to poke fun at Origin’s missteps and to give the antihero Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) a history with audiences, eliminating the need for any previous knowledge of his character.

In fact, Deadpool might be Marvel’s most skillfully told origin story yet. The film introduces Deadpool with an immediate frenzy of blood-spattered excitement, drawing viewers in with gory humor and earning its R-rating. Some of this violence is difficult to take, but Deadpool’s constant humorous commentary somewhat distracts from the carnage. This careful balance of comedy and blood is an artful and necessary echo of the composition of the original comic book, pleasing longtime fans while creating new ones.

The movie then delves into Wade’s past, revealing the cause of his physical and emotional scars. Though these moments are sentimental, they are never maudlin. Raucous fight scenes and foul-mouthed banter punctuate any romance or tragedy, keeping the movie generally light and satisfyingly dark. The movie bounces repeatedly between present and past, shrouding Deadpool’s story in faultlessly frustrating mystery. This flashback structure may border on annoying in a longer film, but at only 108 minutes, Deadpool is the perfect length to maintain viewers’ interest.

Because the film is so short, it only has time to focus on a few characters. However, each is well cast and developed. The hilarious T.J. Miller exercises his comedic skills , perfectly filling the role of Wade’s seedy bartender friend Weasel, a trustworthy — though not particularly heroic — confidant. In some of the darkest portions of the movie, Miller’s lines buoy the storyline, maintaining Deadpool’s humor even when Wade is not fit to crack jokes himself. As a result, Weasel remains with the audience as a valuable and likeable character despite his lack of participation in the most memorable action scenes in the film.

In these action scenes, two other superheroes take Weasel’s place as Wade’s support: X-Men Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead. In the film, Wade snidely remarks that the production company must not have been able to pay for any more well known superhero accompaniments. Though this may have been true, both characters are more than satisfying additions to Team Deadpool. Granted, Colossus’ exaggerated Russian accent is a little much — it brings back disappointing memories of Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch in Avengers: Age of Ultron — but his ironclad righteousness provides a humorous foil to Deadpool’s dark, nontraditional heroism.

Further, Negasonic Teenage Warhead — played by the relatively unknown Brianna Hildebrand — gives Wade another target for snarky banter and puts the spotlight on a superhero few even knew existed. Though the exact parameters of Warhead’s powers remain ambiguous, the addition of a powerful, young female character definitely adds interest to the plot. She is just so cool. Her presence also succeeds in giving Wade’s character even more depth; despite his “moody teen” jabs, toward the end of the film, he seems almost protective of Warhead. His relationship with Warhead humanizes his character in a way that his relationship with Vanessa cannot.

That said, Morena Baccarin is fantastic as the sharp Vanessa, Wade’s love interest and the guiding force for much of the movie’s plot. Not only is her character likeably rough around the edges, but she is just as funny as Wade himself. Baccarin plays Vanessa with emotion and genuineness, which endears her to the audience and makes Wade’s dedication to her believable. Too often, the romance in superhero movies results in the widespread hatred of one half of the couple. However, the careful character development and clear chemistry between Reynolds and Baccarin ensures that Deadpool — while chiefly a superhero movie — retains a solid foundation in humanity and relatability.

Reynolds, in fact, plays an enormous part in building this foundation. The character Deadpool is notoriously exaggerated and obnoxious, and Reynolds delivers in that arena: acting in a mask is especially difficult — the power of facial expression is all but lost — but his voice work (and the help of a little CGI face detailing) gives Deadpool the same amiable cynicism he displays in the comics. When the mask comes off, Reynolds subtly shows Wade’s insecurities, using humor as a barely visible buffer between himself and his audience. His scenes with the villainous Ajax (Ed Skrein) are on their surface comedic, but Reynolds simultaneously imbues them with a deep anger, revealing the pain beneath Deadpool’s flippant exterior. Despite his past failed portrayal of the character, fans need not worry that Reynolds might mishandle the role; indeed, it is quite the opposite. Reynolds truly makes Deadpool.

Bloody fight scenes, inappropriate humor and gratuitous shots of Ryan Reynolds make Deadpool a universally enjoyable movie with few to no flaws. Certainly, opponents of violence or nudity should avoid the film, but neither negatively affect the movie on the whole. As the next (and Hugh Jackman’s last) Wolverine movie uses Deadpool’s success in attempts to secure an R rating, one cannot help but see Deadpool as a vitally significant installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Deadpool’s movie — similar to his comic book upon its release — is truly a game-changer.

Laura Kern is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at lkk36@cornell.edu.

3 thoughts on “Deadpool Electrifies the Marvel Universe

  1. Nice article. Fair, balanced, and thoughtful analysis. This was a shot of adrenalin to a diverse but potentially stale Marvel Cinematic Universe and genre. Perhaps this will be a wake up call that fan input is worth something after all.

    • Looking for your email communication, but I don’t see it yet, for whatever reason. I think that you’re probably referring to my use of the term “Marvel Cinematic Universe” in a literal sense–as it pertains to which media company owns and has the rights to which respective movie franchise. If so, you are correct, and my use of the term was too relaxed. I apologize. Nevertheless, the fundamental premise remains the same. Along with the author of this article and others, I believe that this movie is a game changer. Thanks

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