Luke Owen looks at Deadpool…
If you’ve read my work before, or listened to me on the Flickering Myth podcast, or watched me on The Flickering Myth Movie Show, then you’ll know that I am not a fan of Deadpool. I, personally, think that he’s funny when you first discover his existence, but then find him to be a one-note joke that wares very thin very quickly. It’s pretty humours to read about a character who knows he’s a comic book character, but there’s only so many times you can hear someone make a dated pop culture reference or break the fourth wall before the whole thing becomes a bit boring. You know, like Family Guy. For me, Deadpool is Howard the Duck for children. My perfect analogy of Deadpool and how quickly his schtick becomes annoying, is looking at his appearance in Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds. It was exciting to see him in the game at first, and the idea of hitting your opponents with your own health bar was cool, but by the fourth or fifth fight you’ve heard everything that he has to say. And before you know it, you’re hearing the same five programmed phrases again and again and again with it becoming less and less funny with each passing moment. That, in a nutshell, is Deadpool.
Early last year some test footage for a Deadpool movie was ‘leaked’ online and the outpouring of Deadpool’s insanely large fanbase caused 20th Century Fox to greenlight a full-length major motion picture based on an extended punchline. And – credit where credit is due – the creators of the movie were keen to not water down what made the character popular for his second big screen outing. We saw set photos of Ryan Reynolds in the classic costume, we were promised a balls-to-the-wall violent R-rated cut, and the writers boasted about how Deadpool would break the fourth wall just as he did in the comics. The first trailer, shown at San Diego Comic Con last year, was praised by the fanbase and Internet masses. Many proclaimed Deadpool to be “the comic book movie comic book fans have been waiting for”, citing the previously praised Marvel Cinematic Universe as “stale”, “boring” and “tired”. Like Suicide Squad, fans felt that Deadpool would breathe new life into the comic book movie subgenre, something that the likes of Captain America: Civil War, Doctor Strange, X-Men: Apocalypse and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice simply could not.
It was a trailer that I initially described as the most annoying trailer I’d ever seen in my life, and I stand by that. It featured an annoying character saying annoying things in an annoying voice, and it made pop culture references that will be dated by the time the film comes out. I said that it highlighted everything wrong about the character, whose only joke outside of saying celebrity’s names (which is funny because you know who celebrities are), is swearing. Because if you’re joke isn’t funny, it’s surely made instantly funny by dropping an F-bomb in there. Ha fucking ha.
Now, you’re probably reading the above few paragraphs and have read the title of this article, and assumed that I went into Deadpool with an already established negative view on the film. That I would hate the movie regardless of whether it was actually any good or not, just because I have such strong feelings about the character. Well, dear reader, you would be very wrong – and shame on you for thinking I am that shallow. I went into Deadpool with a very open mind. I wanted the film to change my opinion on the character. I wanted to see what other people saw in him, and finally understand what makes him so popular. I wanted to write an article that showered the film in praise and say that I was wrong. I didn’t like any of the trailers, and I hated the marketing campaign (it was loud and obnoxious, just like the character), but I wanted the film to surprise me.
It didn’t, and I didn’t like it.
But more to the point, I didn’t hate Deadpool either. In fact, I had very little to say about the film upon leaving the cinema. What was there to say about the film? It was exactly what we all expected. He broke the fourth wall, he made some jokes about celebrities and other pop culture things you recognise, he swore a bunch and made comments about touching his penis. Some heads were chopped off, some were blown up. Blood sprayed left, and sometimes it sprayed right. It was… a Deadpool movie.
A couple of days later, I saw an interview with Reynolds talking about a ‘naked fight scene’, and I struggled to even recall that moment in the film. I stared at my laptop screen dumfounded, wondering whether it was a cut sequence that would end up on the unedited Blu-Ray. Deadpool was, frankly, unremarkable. It was very forgettable and a bit boring, but inoffensive to the senses. I laughed a total of two and a half times – and they weren’t particularly big laughs – and only one of them was for something Deadpool said or did (it was the post-credits stinger, in case you were wondering). The others were for the Stan Lee cameo and Colossus’ reaction to Gina Carano’s boob falling out. I laughed more watching Avengers: Age of Ultron, a film that wasn’t designed to be a comedy and written by someone whose style of comedy grates on me. Hell, I think I laughed more watching Pixels, but probably not much more. But when all was said and done, Deadpool was distinctly average. I didn’t hate the film to the extent of films like Terminator: Genisys or Transformers: Age of Extinction, but I also didn’t like it enough to recommend anyone go out of their way to see it.