With quips coming faster than bullets and gag reflex-inducing reflexive gags, Deadpool works because it parodies the rarely critically successful ‘Comic Book Movie’, and—if one wishes to complicate definitions a bit—it does so… beautifully.
Deadpool spins the origin story of Wade Wilson, a man, by cruel fate turned super powered yet maimed. With a vendetta and a hunger for purpose, Wade means to elude the definition of “hero” (and even “antihero”) as he massacres the ranks to his mark.
How can levity and parody be managed with such a plot? Perhaps by a relentless bombardment of wit, allusion, and self-referentiality. For example, much the same as Wade’s healing powers, the tonal gash of a bloody, triple headshot can (and is) quickly recovered by an irreverent quip. The violence isn’t serious, but the joke is: the flippancy and myopia with which ‘Comic Book Movies’ often treat violence, urban massacre, and overall social consequence is absurd. The fatuous tropes of such films lend themselves so easily to our Merc’s mouth, that the viewer is never lacking a “line” with/after their “punch”. However, this formula simultaneously facilitates and curtails Deadpool’s ultimate merit…
A perfect and topical parody of the shallow can nonetheless achieve no more than “shallow parody.” No matter how raunchy, adroit, and succinct Deadpool’s disses are, it, by virtue of navigating a sea of pure parody, will always lack the psychological, moral, and thematic fish of substance. The relevancy of Deadpool’s digs will expire not only by the mercuriality of their topical fodder but by the evolution of the genre itself. Thus, by purposely dating & dooming itself, Deadpool, by mode of kamikaze, cinematic criticism/rhetoric, decrees the new standard of the ‘Comic Book Movie’ in its dive.
Now, it’s pertinent to note that this guide of: ‘What Not to Do While Making a Comic Book Movie (Anymore)’ by Deadpool’s writers could not as effectively been achieved without the charisma and intellect of actor Ryan Reynolds. Reynolds dilutes the ‘voice’ of the writers and steers the film vastly clear of preachiness, here, not by playing Wade Wilson but rather by playing Ryan Reynolds playing Wade Wilson. Wade Wilson, as a shell/device for social commentary (as he always was in the source material), required a howitzer of comedy, charm, and improvisational wit within yet also without that aforementioned society. In other words, the character Wilson required a ‘para-celebrity’ or a ‘para-comedian’ to flourish on screen—to make the writers’ jokes not just hit but hit with hilarity—by an already accepted public figure. Like Deadpool’s script to its genre, Wilson’s portrayed actor had to both embody the head and butt of every joke in reality. As it turns, Reynolds, and perhaps only Reynolds, accomplishes this gorgeously.
With its ‘pros’ pitted against ‘cons’, the net result is a powerful product—one that urges the complication of facile trends in the comic book-to-film adaption game– thus one best consumed early, while ripe and relevent. Now, after expiry, can we still look forward to a Deadpool 2? Without a doubt, because every text or trend of texts require(s) a counter text. Stasis favours praise but evolution favours criticism. Whether that criticism incarnates a boring, old, written review (…) or an unapologetic, gut-busting, utterly innane, subversive, and bloody spectacle—well, beauty’s always been in the eye of the beholder, hasn’t it?