After some footage of Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool shooting thugs, cracking jokes, and doing a little dance to Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl” leaked at last year’s San Diego Comic Con, fan anticipation has increased for Deadpool, which got an official release date and a supporting cast in the past year.
For those not in the know, Deadpool is a mercenary character created by Fabian Nicieza and Rob Liefeld in an New Mutants issue as a villainous parody of DC Comics’ Deathstroke. (Wade Wilson, Slade Wilson, see what they did there.) Over the past two decades, Deadpool has become a fan favorite character thanks to work by writers like Joe Kelly, Gail Simone, Daniel Way, and most recently Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn, who gave him a daughter and an even sadder backstory in the 2013 “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” arc. He has picked up a wide variety of endearing and not so endearing characteristics, including a penchant for breaking the fourth wall (Picking up the slack from She-Hulk), cartoonish violence, chimichanga, and being a disfigured lady’s man. He’s really an ugly, ultraviolent Looney Tunes character who makes the quips that Spider-Man is afraid to. And he could be a lifesaver for an increasingly overstuffed comic book movie market.
Since 1999’s Mystery Men, which poked fun at superheroes a year before X-Men was a box office hit, comedy has been part of comic book films from Tony Stark’s royal snark in Iron Man and beyond to Thor’s out of water antics in his original film to Guardians of the Galaxy, which had the action of Star Wars and the sense of humor of Galaxy Quest. But from its first trailer, it looks like Deadpool is cranking the comedy and action to eleven by being the first R-rated superhero comedy and owning that R-rating with F-bombs flying, Stan Lee emceeing at a strip club, and the Merc with a Mouth calling a fan favorite X-Man a “cock gobbler”. And as a piping warm side dish to this Judd Apatow/Paul Feig style raunch is stylized, buckets of blood action sequences that would make Matthew Vaughn and Edgar Wright crack a smile. (I decided to not name drop Quentin Tarantino here. Oops, I did.)
Along with the laughs and funny, it seems that director Tim Miller (creative director of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) and writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (Zombieland) are making him break the fourth wall just as much as he did during Joe Kelly and Daniel Way’s runs. There are references to his co-creator Rob Liefeld (He is kind of a pariah to comics fans, but he somehow keeps getting work because he’s a nice guy.) and a not so subtle reference to Ryan Reynolds’ previous attempt at superheroing in Green Lantern. This will make fans of the Deadpool comics, video games, and his guest appearance in cartoons like Hulk Vs and Ultimate Spider-Man happy, but will it get annoying for film goers. Only time will tell, but it would be amazing if Deadpool ended up being the ultimate superhero parody while being a well-shot action film.
Another element that Miller, Reese, and Wernick have retained in the Deadpool is his oddball supporting cast. Sadly, there is no Bob, Agent of HYDRA because his rights are probably owned by Disney, but the film has made up for it by including Deadpool’s best friend and the master of mood swings Weasel, dim witted and steroid infused mercenary Ajax, and couple of dirty muties, including the popular, but underutilized Colossus and the Grant Morrison/Frank Quitely created Negasonic Teenage Warhead. (She should be at the top of every best X-Men codename poll.) Tim Miller has also assembled a quirky cast of these characters from irreverent comedic talent T.J. Miller of Silicon Valley fame to former MMA fighter Gina Carano and Firefly and Homeland‘s Morena Baccarin to play the more dramatic role of Deadpool’s wife Vanessa. The characters in Deadpool are a true lineup of loveable losers that make the Guardians of the Galaxy look like the Justice League and could lead to some comedic anarchy.
The Deadpool trailer and panel won the hearts and souls of San Diego Comic Con through a mix of rude, uproarious comedy; some hilarious in-jokes, and a real passion for the source material. Tim Miller, Rhett Reese, and Paul Wernick have integrated characters from all eras of Deadpool comics as well as dusted off some underrated X-Men characters, which weren’t really being used in that movie. If the actual film is as filled with comic anarchy as the trailer and panel, Deadpool could be a sleeper hit and bust the market wide open for more R-rated comic book films that aren’t dead serious, like Watchmen or V for Vendetta.