Thursday, February 18, 2016

Matt and Dan Go to the Movies- Deadpool

Dan Grote: Guys, I’m biased. You know that. Of the 119 posts I’ve written for the Matt Signal since February 2014, nearly 38 percent have been about Deadpool. This is a fan’s review.

That said, this movie nails it. Is it the best comic book movie ever? No. Is it the best Marvel movie? Also no. Is it the best possible filmic representation of my favorite character? Yes.

Ryan Reynolds, director Tim Miller and screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick gave us a Wade Wilson who was funny, filthy, F’d up, violent and as much a thorn in the side of his enemies as his allies, all key ingredients in a Deadpool stew. If this movie were created purely as fan service, then sir or madam, I have been serviced.

And it’s a love story. Morena Baccarin (Gotham, Firefly) plays Vanessa as Wade’s equal in tragic backstory and sexual depravity. Trailers appeared to give her a little more to do than be damseled, which turns out not to be the case, but the strength of their relationship is still the movie’s emotional linchpin.

Matt Lazorwitz: And because the love story is important to the plot, the love story works! Since I only write about things I like on here, I’ve never discussed how love stories in superhero movies often feel tacked on, and lack chemistry between the leads. There are exceptions clearly (Chris Evans and Haley Atwell as Cap and Agent Carter jump immediately to mind), but often the standard romantic subplot in a superhero movie leaves me cold. Here though, because it’s important and it underlines so much of Wade’s motivation, it makes sense.

And aside from plot elements, Reynolds and Baccarin play off each other wonderfully. As Dan said, Baccarin plays her part as Wade’s equal, but she also is tough as nails and has a life her own. When Wade leaves, she goes on with her life; she’s not pining for him when he decides to come back. Morena Baccarin is becoming an actress with a ton of comic book acting credits, between Leslie Thompkins on Gotham, the voice of GIDEON on The Flash, and voicing Talia al Ghul in recent DC Direct-to-DVD films, but I have to say Vanessa is my favorite of her roles in a comic book property (Firefly/Serenity doesn’t count as a comic book property, so no angry comments).

DG: If there was one character I would have loved to have seen more of, it was Leslie Uggams’ Blind Al. I could have watched another five minutes of her and Wade arguing about Ikea furniture or Wade stroking her face with his regenerating baby hand. More of her in the sequel, please.

Deadpool works best when someone is trying to realign him from chaotic neutral to chaotic good. For the purposes of the film, that realigner is Colossus, a CGI character voiced by Stefan Kapicic, inheriting the role from Daniel Cudmore. Kapicic’s Colossus is a cartoon. His accent is ripped straight from the ’90s animated series (I kept waiting for him to yell “Illyana, my sister!”), and his personality is something out of a G.I. Joe public service announcement, whether he’s encouraging his trainee, Negasonic Teenage Warhead, to eat a healthy breakfast or lecturing Deadpool about how killing is wrong. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. To the contrary, it was just another thing that kept me laughing.

ML: Negasonic Teenage Warhead is a really deep cut, an obscure Grant Morrison character, played wonderfully by relative newcomer Brianna Hildebrand. Her quiet, sullen, surly teenage girl could easily have been eye-rollingly over played, but she keeps the right balance to it, and I liked that she and Wade wound up being friendly, if not friends. Also, it was great to see that under her Goth clothes she’s wearing an X-Men training uniform similar to those in the comics and in X-Men: First Class; little nods to the existing continuity make me smile.

DG: So can we all agree the final fight scene was staged at one of the three SHIELD helicarriers that blew up at the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier? Obviously, nobody involved with the movie is ever going to confirm this, but I’m pretty sure a lot of people’s head canons are synchronized on this one.

ML: And little nods like that are part of Deadpool. There are a lot of references to Ryan Reynolds somewhat checkered past with superhero movies, like comments about green CG costumes and a mouthless X-Men Origins: Wolverine Weapon XI action figure. Also, while there is no Wolverine cameo, Deadpool makes a few barbed references to Fox’s previous mutant cashcow. And the fourth wall is completely shattered when Colossus says he’s bringing Wade to see Professor X, and not only does Wade ask “Stewart or McAvoy” but makes a continuity joke. These aren’t the jokes for every viewer, there are plenty of those, but the writers didn’t forget to lay out their fanboy Easter eggs.

Also, from a strictly movie making standpoint, the film had some great fight choreography. Sure, there are the standard bullet-time shots, but Wade’s pure brutality is spot on, and the fights are stylish. Also, credit for one of the best super strength fights I’ve seen between Colossus and Angel Dust. And while the soundtrack isn’t Guardians of the Galaxy’s “Awesome Mix,” the schizophrenia of bouncing from Juice Newton’s cover of “Angel of the Morning” to DMX’s “X Gon’ Give it to Ya” to Neil Sedaka’s “Calendar Girl” (used in a way I bet he never imagined) to Team Headkick’s “Deadpool Rap” seems to speak perfectly to the spirit of the character and film.

DG: The closing credits thank Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza, who co-created the character 25 years ago, but so much of this movie’s DNA comes from writer Joe Kelly and artists like Ed McGuinness and Walter McDaniel who worked on the early issues of Deadpool’s first solo series. Ajax, Blind Al, Sister Margaret’s Home for Wayward Girls, Wade’s self-loathing and aversion to/infatuation with becoming a hero, the origin of his name and the already-dated-no-matter-how-topical cultural references are all Kelly’s brainchildren. And while we’re doling out credit, the fourth-wall breaking comes from Christopher Priest, the pansexual winks come from the Internet, and Nicieza is responsible for Weasel, Vanessa and Bob. Dopinder the cab driver is an original character.

Yes, the post-credits scene was anticlimactic, but that was part of the movie’s metatextual commentary. And, hey, I’m still pretty excited that we’re getting [redacted] in the sequel. 

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