Apparently, Deadpool broke some box-office records and shattered studio expectations. Personally, I take this as proof the studios aren’t as in touch with their audiences as they think they are.
In some ways, Deadpool is a pretty typical superhero story, what with a human being turned sort of superhuman and all. Wade Wilson works as a mercenary–not-so-typical–lives with his longtime girlfriend, and he’s diagnosed with late-stage cancer. He gets a mysterious offer from a man representing a group claiming they can cure him, with a few other bonuses, and he takes them up on it. But that’s where things divert a bit and the “typical superhero story” ends. The group puts its subjects under intense stress and pain in order to trigger mutant genes that’ll then kick in and do things like take care of Wade’s cancer and various other perks. In Wade’s case, he can also heal, and he’s also unfortunately disfigured. The head of the group, who is named Francis but calls himself Ajax, tells Wilson, who later takes the name Deadpool, that he’s able to fix this, but he ultimately leaves Wilson for dead in a fire engulfing their building. Oh, and the group actually takes its mutants and sells them to people to do with them as they please.
And so rather than being about superheroes trying to save the world, Deadpool is about a man who essentially was misled into a shit arrangement, ends up disfigured, and wants revenge–especially when Francis kidnaps his girlfriend. Yet it has much of what’s become typical and beloved about superhero movies, from tons of ass-kicking and action scenes to a healthy but not overdone dose of romance. Aside from some more atypical storylines, Deadpool also differs in its tone. It’s packed with dark, raunchy humor and a self-awareness that pokes at its genre just enough to make it funny for said genre’s fans without coming off as though those fans are the butt of the joke.
Honestly, I was pretty sold just in the opening sequence–we open with Juice Newton’s “Angel of the Morning,” and because I recognized the song, I laughed immediately. It plays over a beautifully constructed freeze-frame of Deadpool mid-fight with some of Francis’ henchman, while mock credits roll saying things like “some douche’s movie” starring “a hot chick” (Morena Baccarin, who Firefly fans will recognize as Inara and probably love here). Leading up to us going to see it, my fiancé would say things like, “I hope they didn’t just put all the funniest jokes in the trailers,” and although strangely, those jokes got the biggest laughs in our theater, they weren’t the best parts of the movie. In retrospect, the trailers do just what a good trailer should, and that is give you a really good idea of what you’re in for without telling you everything.
My only real complaint is the use of the flashback structure, just because I’m not a fan of it and the film could’ve easily been just as well-paced and good had it been told in a more traditional chronological narrative. But in the end, that’s just a minor complaint and a matter of taste more than anything.
So if you like dark, irreverent humor and superhero movies, you’re gonna like Deadpool. It’s a good time.