I liked the Deadpool movie. I liked it a lot, actually. This is a big thing, because the honest truth is, I’ve never really given a fuck about Deadpool. I don’t hate the character or anything. I’ve just never cared. I get why he’s popular, but he’s never really been for me. But I like movies, and superhero movies are fun. And when Steph and I went to go see it last weekend, I was pleasantly surprised by how nice it was. And that’s what it was… nice. It won’t be winning an Oscar. But it was fun and enjoyable and well worth the free price of the Christmas gift card we paid to go see it.
And really, it was everything that geeks have been clamoring for in a superhero movie for ages: Put the character in his spandex costume — Check! Be true to the comic book source material — Check! Give it an R rating and stop pandering to mass market toy sales — Check! Honestly, none of those three things are at the top of my list of importance for “what we must do to make a good superhero movie” but I get it. And I was happy to see someone check all three boxes and make a nice enjoyable flick to boot. The movie pulled in $135M at the box office and for once the geeks on the internet will be happy!
It’s the internet, so of course there was something to complain about. I saw a couple murmurings of people not liking it, and I’m fine with that. Movies don’t have to be for everyone. As I said way back when I was talking about the Supergirl TV show, I love that we’ve hit a place where instead of just randomly having “the comic book movie” we can specifically target towards smaller demographics. But people aren’t complaining that it’s not for them.
The clearest write up of this I’ve seen was reposted to Facebook by my friend, Link. It was from the folks at IO9 talking about how tragic it is that all of these things had to be cut from the film for budgetary reasons and wouldn’t it have been great if we could have put X, Y and Z in it?
Necessity is the mother of invention. Some of the best movie moments in history happened because the filmmakers HAD to do it that way. No one wants to see the fucking shark in Jaws. Apparently, the braintrust behind Deadpool had plans for about half a dozen more cameos in the film’s third act set piece, and had to scrap them for budgetary (and likely property rights) reasons. The one that most people seem to be complaining about is Taskmaster not appearing in the film. They also had plans for other X-men and a bunch of other villains to show up in the final scene. They had plans for a couple other big schmoozey action scenes. None of that happens. And that’s a good thing.
Except geeks are complaining. People feel like the movie was missing something because they didn’t get those cameos. But the movie doesn’t NEED Taskmaster. The only reason to even miss Taskmaster is that you know he’s “supposed to be there.”
The biggest success of Deadpool is that my wife liked it. Steph is not a comics fan. She had never even heard of Deadpool before a week ago. She has no backstory in her head and no expectations. We left and she said “that was fun.” She liked it, even though she hates a lot of superhero movies. That’s a win. She at no point left saying “you know what that movie needed? The Taskmaster!” because she has no idea who the fuck a Taskmaster is. And she didn’t care. If Taskmaster had shown up suddenly in the third act, I would have spent the entire drive home explaining “why is there a guy with and a Captain America shield and a skull head there all of a sudden? What do you mean he doesn’t have powers? What’s with the skull head? Really? That’s dumb.” And in the context of this film, she’d be 100% right. The only reason to have Taskmaster in there is for people to say “oh cool! Look, it’s that guy!” And that is a horrible way to make a movie. You had that movie before. It even had Deadpool in it. It was called X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and you fucking hated it!
As for more fight scenes, I’ve seen a couple reviews complaining that there were “only two big fight scenes” in the film. I agree. Kinda. But I don’t think it’s really a budget thing and I don’t think adding a bigger budget would have “improved” it. Because while it does only have two fights, there are three action set pieces.
Superhero movies have become standardized on a formula that includes three big action set pieces, one per act. Furthermore, the set pieces tend to be formulaically “big ol’ fight.” Since I don’t want to do any spoilers in this little review, instead I will simply detail the basic 21st century superhero movie plot line:
Act 1: Superguy’s status quo is upset when BigBad (or possibly his henchman or some other minor villain) attacks in the first set piece. If this is the first movie, Rick Regular ends up somehow receiving his powers as a direct result, or at least easily traceable indirect result of this attack. Rick Regular gets hit by a plot device and gains the proportionate speed and strength of a super and becomes Superguy!!!! In any case, set piece #1 sets up the world and prepares us for the level of ‘splosions and face punches we are going to get for the rest of the movie.
Act 2: Superguy and BigBad come to blows again and we find out that they are intrinsically linked by origin story and probably power set. BigBad gets the best of Superguy here because inexperience and/or cockiness make Superguy unprepared for the encounter. BigBad drives the plot forward by accomplishing a key phase to his evil plan by the end of the set piece, namely either stealing the McGuffin Device and/or kidnapping Rick’s girlfriend, Boobies Babeson. Rick, realizes that everything is his fault, so it is his responsibility to set things right, by buckling down, taking things seriously and hunting down BigBad. This probably involves going rogue so that he can’t rely on his friends in the Allies Association to help him.
Act 3: Superguy tracks down BigBad and punches him a lot. Learning the lesson of his earlier cockiness, there’s no playing around this time, so he moves right to the set piece. Punch, Punch Punch! There is so much punching! There’s also some ‘splosions. Maybe it looks like BigBad is going to win, but luckily The Allies Association shows up and helps Superguy turn the tide. The Allies hold off BigBad’s League of Evil Extras long enough for Superguy to punch BigBad harder than anyone has ever punched before. Superguy recovers the McGuffin device, saves Boobies, and learns a valuable lesson about love and teamwork that he will never forget… at least until the sequel.
Deadpool more or less followed the formula. Its brilliance was that it tweaked it a bit, swapping some aspects of Act 1 and Act 2. And on top of that, they replaced the “big ol’ fight” in Act 2 with “big ‘splosions” instead, but there was still a fight going on… it was just not as obvious because there were SO MANY ‘splosions! But the key parts of the act were there. All in all, it was a superhero movie. And it was a good one. It didn’t need anything else. Sure they could have added another couple action scenes that didn’t affect the plot just to have some cool action stuff going on… But why? They’ve done that before in Matrix: Reloaded, Sucker Punch and the entire Transformers series and you fucking hated those movies too!
It’s funny, because geeks are so conditioned by comics and the constant interconnecting crossovers and schmoozey slugfests that we get 3 times per company per year that they just can’t understand how the movies don’t have them…. even though everyone hates that the comic companies do this! The gut reaction of the comic fan is “Oh my god, Deadpool was great. Now we can finally put him in everything. Let’s make sure he’s in Wolverine, and X-Men and X-Force, and oh my god, wouldn’t it be great if Marvel and Fox learned to play together so that we could have a big movie starring everyone. And then maybe one day there can be a crossover with DC/Warner and it will be amazing!”
And what I’m most worried about… is that maybe Hollywood will listen.
Fuck you all!
★★★★⅓(4.33 out of 5 stars)