Ryan Reynolds plays Wade Wilson, a mercenary for hire whose cells are mutated so that he can regenerate any body part he loses. He was a bit of a weirdo before, but the treatment to mutate his cells messed him up in the head, making him a deadly opponent with a deadly sense of humor.
In a smaller than your usual “save the world from some cataclysmic event” superhero story, Wade has to save his girlfriend from a fellow mutant with a vendetta against him.
I might have mentioned that superhero stories have never really been my genre of interest, but even I got excited when it was announced that there would be a Deadpool movie. All I knew about him was that he was a comedic antihero who breaks the laws of space, time, and the fourth wall, but that was enough to hype me up.
Random and in-joke humor doesn’t taste the same for everyone, but since the advent of widespread internet access, it has become increasingly popular with my generation. I somewhat disagree with Mr. Doug Walker in his assertion that comedy is almost entirely based on misery, because otherwise, how could such jokes get a laugh from anyone? Saying the word “waffles” doesn’t hurt anyone, except maybe by annoyance. And it isn’t only the reaction that gets a laugh out of the audience.
I would amend the assertion like this: comedy is about misery and upsetting expectations. Sometimes one results from the other.
Take the classic falling piano gag; a piano falls from an apartment’s kitchen window several stories up, and it looks like it’s on a collision course with a cartoon character below. That would be pretty funny if it hit them, but imagine if at the last minute, a police officer shoos the person away for loitering, stands in their exact spot, and gets hit just after he looks up?
Would that be funnier? You expected the pie to hit the first guy, anticipated getting a good laugh from that, and then it ends up hitting another guy instead. Whoever gets hit will be funny as long as they react in a way that suggests disgust or misery, but both types of humor can work and they can go hand in hand to make a funny joke funnier.
When Deadpool is beating up badies in the car and it starts to flip, he slows down time to do this. You can argue that this is funny for a number of reasons, like the fact that it’s interupting a violent fight. Anyone who may be unfamiliar with Deadpool will be wondering a) how he can stop time, and b) what is so important that he feels the need to stop the fight to say it? For those who do know Deadpool, they’re just waiting for him to say something crazy, because he’s a hilarious badass who says exactly what he means, unfazed and uncaring about decency or even the laws of physics. He’s not a part of your system, man!
Is it juvenile? Hell yes, but here is the difference betwee n Deadpool and the Seltzerberg “parody” films: Deadpool is the only one doing it. He has an endless parade of normal people who can react to his antics, which appeals to both the 13 year old boy and the growing adult inside.
In that sense, Deadpool is closer to Borat comedy than Seltzerberg comedy, which is all about cramming as much gross out and out-of-place references to as many more popular movies as possible, with no thought of structure or coherence.
Gross out, like a jump scare or a well-placed pie to the face, is best when used sparringly, because, again, it messes with expectations. Most people do not like to be extensively grossed out because disgust is in place to keep us away from things that are poisionous or unhealthy. Deadpool uses gross out occasionally because it messes with his enemies and his audience, and while it is in line with his established character, he doesn’t beat it into the ground.
Or, at the very least, he varies it.
Deadpool is a nice bridge between predictably crazy and crazily unpredictable; you know he’s going to do or say something weird, but it’s not always the same brand of weird. It’s random humor, but also self-aware humor, because he makes cracks at superhero and general movie cliches.
If sex jokes and violence make you uncomfortable, don’t watch this movie. This is not a wholesome adventure for the entire family to enjoy. It’s also not timeless in any sense of the word; hopefully, people in the future will never know who Mama June is, let alone picture what she looks like after an intense round of yoga. But it’s a fun break from the seriousness of world-ending superhero stories, even ones with wise-crackers like Ant Man and Iron Man.
Though I don’t know how Deadpool will do if he has to share significant screentime with another character or set of heroes (more prominent than the ones that appeared in his movie). I guess we’ll just have to see.
Gleefully perverse and brimming with energy, Deadpool is a welcome and fresh addition to the Marvel cinematic universe.
*All media used in this review belongs to Marvel and Disney.