RECAP: Deadpool

Deadpool (2016): Some Overpaid Tool (OK, Tim Miller)

That’s what the credits called Tim Miller, birth name of the man who directed Fox’s most recent mutant extravaganza.

You might remember Deadpool as a villain in the origin story of Wolverine from the 2009 film X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Well, you remember correctly.

Fox brought him back, divested him of Wolverine’s association (at least visually) and added a whole heap of humor. The result? The all-time February opening weekend record.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: A funny guy learns that he’s a mutant and hunts the guy who proved it to him.

Hero (7/10)

Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds, former People Sexiest Man Alive) is a mercenary paid to rough up and scare guys a little bit worse than he is. Despite the conventions of this blog, Wilson is not a hero. He says so several times.

Instead he instigates fights amongst his merc buddies and jokes with his bartender friend. That’s his life, day to day, until he meets a strong-willed ball-grabber named Vanessa.

The two go on a date to play skeeball and win a Voltron ring and an eraser. They are a cute pair.

Wilson doesn’t care about much, but he loves his girlfriend Vanessa. Why? “Your crazy matches my crazy.” They are like jigsaw pieces. But instead of predictable laser-cut curves, their edges are more razor-sharp, jagged, and threatening.

Except when Wilson gets late-stage cancer. The moment he learns of his disease is an instructive one, because he does not, as his girlfriend does, work the plan of working the plan. He watches her, memorizing her face as if for the last time.

Turns out Wilson is a mutant. He didn’t know–no one did–until high stress levels unlocked his super healing abilities. (I guess getting stage-death cancer isn’t stressful enough.) And they are super. Wilson, throughout the movie, will be shot multiple times, break three of his extremities, lose a hand, and get stabbed in the brain. No problem.

Above all else–love, healing, sex, blow jobs–Wilson loves cracking jokes. Humor in the face of adversity might be his true superpower.

When his face deteriorates like a melted wax figure, Wilson makes fun of himself. He asks his buddy Weasel (TJ Miller) if he resembles a testicle with teeth. In the right light….

Even Wilson’s trip to torture camp doesn’t wane his humor. There are so many referential jokes in Deadpool that I expected Deadpool to tell someone “The world will know you died scratching my balls,” like Bond tells Le Chiffre in Casino Royale. Why not? Wolverine, all the X-Men movies, TakenFerris Bueller–they’re all on the chopping block, cut into funny bits for Deadpool to chew and spit at you.

During the climactic fight scene, Deadpool refuses to lose his humor, despite his asphyxiating fiancee being in sight of him.

Wilson enjoys joking so much that it might be considered a character flaw. He jokes in the face of certain, cancerous death. Close viewing belies this idea.

Late one night we catch Wilson staring out his window, crying. He hides this from his fiancé. No “strong men also cry” rhetoric from Wade Wilson. He settles in beside Vanessa, only to bail on her the next morning, seemingly forever.

Wilson exemplifies the male teenaged ego. Damn cool exterior, terrified interior, eager to deflect using humor. There’re jokes and gratuitous ab shots (at least three by my count). When he finds Vanessa working in a strip club, he walks right past her. It’s been a whole year, Wade! Christ, say hello!

Reynolds is fully game to play Deadpool. He mocks himself. “You think Ryan Reynolds got this far on a superior acting method?” He mocks Hugh Jackman, wearing a photo of his face as a mask and referencing his “smooth criminals down under.” He shows off his abs. Solid work.

Villain (5/10)

Ed Skrein plays Francis, known to his friends as Ajax. In the opening credits he’s listed as a British Villain. He is indeed both British and villainous. I didn’t like him. Skrein is far too pretty a boy to instill great terror. He should play a tough military advisor or something.

Francis runs a private experiment lab in an old and dungy warehouse. His idea is to stress out his “patients” enough to tease out their mutant phenotypes. Or kill them trying. Thirty years laboring in a cubicle farm isn’t enough stress, at least according to Francis.

Turns out that Francis has lost the ability to feel, and not only in a Steely Dan kind of way. He can’t feel wounds, but neither can he heal them quickly. When Deadpool lances him in the shoulder area, pinning him to the bridge, Francis has no trouble with it. To him, it might as well be a mosquito bite. Interestingly, we don’t know that yet, but Deadpool does.

Francis also lost the ability to feel emotions. We might use the word feel to describe powerful nerve sensations as well as strong emotions, but I don’t think our chromosomes know that. “I don’t feel anything,” is a statement that should apply to one or the other, not both.

Other than his mutant powers, Francis plays villainy by the book. He kidnaps Vanessa for bait and tries the oxygen deprivation chamber trick. He swings double axes, a recipe for losing your limbs more than the other guy’s, and he shaves his head. Francis takes villainy seriously. Nonetheless, he’s British.

Action/Effects (6/10)

The movie clocks in at two action scenes. They tried to trick you, cutting the first scene throughout the movie. It’s a good one, but don’t be fooled; you’ve seen Pulp Fiction.

The credits roll over a super slow motion shot of a car crash. These credits were the best part of the movie. Yeah, the rest of the movie is downhill from here, but it’s a gentle slope.

Deadpool has tracked Francis across town. He believes he is in the convoy of black Suburbans trundling down the elevated highway. Deadpool rides in a cab with his new friend Dopinder to reach the convoy.

The blink-and-you’ll-miss-it scene involves brutality and levity, just like the entire film.

Sidekicks (7/8)

For comedy, look no further than Leslie Uggams as Blind Al. Al allows Wilson to live with her, and they are a perfect match, one assumes, because he’s ashamed of his face and she can’t see it. She can’t see other things either, constantly bumping into stuff in her house.

Al tolerates Wilson, but barely, and one wonders why. He’s not very nice to her. Instead of helping put together an Ikea dresser he mocks her for it. That’s understandable, because Ikea items suck to put together. Perhaps a blind person has as good a chance as one who can see.

Weasel (T.J. Miller) is Wilson’s bartender/friend. Except he bets on Wilson in the dead pool. Bets on him to die on his next assignment. Yet he gives Wilson blow jobs. I mean Blow Jobs, the shot. You have to admire a guy who wears glasses in a bar full of murderers, where a fight a night is on the low end of per-night fight averages.

Weasel delivers the jokes. “You look like an avocado had sex with an older, more disgusting avocado,” he tells the newly mutated Wilson. “You look like Freddy Kruger had sex with a topographical map of Utah.” But he always has Deadpool’s back. “I’d go with you, but I don’t wanna.” Scratch that.

The two mutants Fox could barely afford are Colossus (voice of Stefan Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (voice and body of Brianna Hildebrand). One is made of steel or some such metal, the other makes energy blasts.

These two were great foils of Wilson and each other. Colossus delivers the high-minded Hero Speech as Deadpool points a gun at Francis’s head. NTW tweets before heading into battle, chewing gum. She’s a strong, silent type to counter Deadpool’s never-ending quip factory.

It’s hard to call Vanessa Wilson’s sidekick, but in Deadpool she functions as just that. Morena Baccarin plays a woman whose “crazy matches my crazy,” as Wilson tells her. When they meet, the pair have a screwed-up-life-off. Vanessa used to sleep in a dishwasher box.

Vanessa is the one of the pair willing to fight. When Wilson gets cancer, she’s in the doctor’s office working Plans A through Z. Wilson just wants to remember her face. She hands him brochures for obscure treatments. (“Isn’t Chechnya where you go to get cancer?”)

Wilson wins, but only after Vanessa concedes.

Vanessa doesn’t get much to do beyond peg her boyfriend and disappear for half the movie because Wade’s avoiding her. We know that she enjoys sex as much as Wilson, and she wants him to fight for his life when he won’t. Girl’s smart–Wade’s got only one more cancer than Lance Armstrong when he told his survival story in Dodgeball.

Except for Vanessa, all these characters serve to make the movie funnier but without adding much to the narrative. The mutants are with Deadpool exclusively for backup. Avenger and X-Men teamwork aren’t part of the gameplan, and they know it.

Henchmen (0/8)

Francis employs many heavily armed goons, but only one qualifies as a henchman. Gina Carano plays Angel Dust, a thick bruiser who speaks as often as she punches. She’s a silent fighter.

I don’t know if the comic character Angel Dust keeps her lips sealed, but the movie lacked for quality backup to Francis. Angel Dust’s one snippet of character was her chewing of matches, about which Wilson asked if she was a fan of Stallone.

She’s a tough fighter, able to match Colossus blow for blow, but she can’t touch NTW. Literally, she can’t touch her, nearly dying from their one interaction. Also her boob pops out.

Colossus carries her away from the final battle. Perhaps she will have more to do in the sequel, but she was underused in Deadpool.

Stunts (2/6)

Where did Deadpool learns his stunts? Wilson is ex-Special Forces or navy Seal or something, but do those guys get the gymnastics training needed to backflip and barrel roll like Deadpool?

Deadpool’s highway fight shows him running and sliding and flipping and stabbing like the world moves in slow motion.

Climax (4/6)

Deadpool locates Francis and Vanessa to an aircraft carrier under construction. A carrier that looks suspiciously like the flying carriers popular in Marvel’s rival-but-not-rival movies, er, excuse me, Cinematic Universe.

Deadpool doesn’t roll up unarmed. He’s carrying a bag load full of–ah crap, it’s in the taxi. OK, Deadpool’s still got Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead.

Angel Dust hops down. From a hundred feet. Without breaking her greased-back hair. Colossus has got this. He runs to punch her and…is smashed across the junkyard.

Cue NTW. She does her–tweeting, she does her tweeting first–then the glowing fireball move and blasts Angel Hair across the junkyard. Mutant fight–on!

Angel and Colossus wail on each other. It’s like normal fighting, but you have to pretend their hella-strong.

Deadpool wave a white flag after being the first person in history to take off his underpants without taking off his pants. And, my, so white! He offers the two dozen armed guards who have half surrounded him to lay down their arms and receive possibly “lover-like treatment.”

They ain’t no gays, I guess they’re thinking, so they shoot at him. Deadpool references Commando, the commando-slaying ur-text, and flips out with his swords swinging.

Some heads get smashed, stabbed, and lobbed off. NTW does her blast thing again. The metal guy and Angel try to crush each other. That ends in exposure, which, Colossus being a gentleman, points out, only to receive a crotch punch.

Deadpool meets and old friend, one that he doesn’t kill, only knocks out. He, as promised, spells out FRANCIS in dead bodies.

NTW launches Mr. Pool onto the carrier deck. Vanessa hears his voice and finally accepts he’s alive. She calls him an asshole, because, let’s face it, his is a big one. (I mean, he’s a jerk, and his face literally resembles and asshole.)

The axe/sword fight is very hard to follow. They each have two and swing them fast enough to practically blur into one move of glinty steel. Deadpool throws one sword into the oxygen deprivation chamber to allow Vanessa to breathe.

More fighting. Francis throws an axe at Deadpool, but the latter catches it. That was a baller move, but not as good as Deadpool fish-hooking Francis’s mouth.

Francis stabs Deadpool in the brain and pummels his face. Vanessa slides out of the glass case and runs the sword through the villain.

Cut to romantic cartoon hallucination as Wilson sees his fiancé as if for the first time. Cut to the cartoons melting as Francis is back.

Angel is about to choke Colossus to death with rebar, but NTW is there to explosively save the moment. In the process, because teenagers love collateral damage, she blows part of the carrier and it tips over.

Stuff slides, including Deadpool and Vanessa. Deadpool stores his beloved in the oxygen case, and she falls off the carrier.

Everyone seems safe, and Deadpool applauds Vanessa’s safe landing. But, this being an action movie, Francis is not yet dead. He spear tackles Deadpool from on high and they tumble to the ground. However, it’s not long before Deadpool gains the upper hand and points a gun at him. Francis mocks him for continuing to think that his skin situation is curable.

“Four or five moment,” Colossus calls from off frame, distracting Deadpool. The metallic man tells Deadpool that being a hero is about four or five moments when one can show heroism.

Colossus is as subtle as he is shiny, but Deadpool listens. The big guy explains that heroes are forged in the choices they make in a few moments. He drones on about this until Deadpool shoots Francis.

Yeah, he did. It’s quite shocking, the movie’s most subversive moment. Colossus pukes and Deadpool says he’ll “be on the lookout for the next four moments.”

The jokes resume, trying to forget the fact that Deadpool just murdered the bad guy, the guy who was prone beneath him at gun point. The fight was over, and Deadpool blasted his head to chum.

Jokes (4/4)

Everyone might call this an action movie, but I think it’s a comedy first, action film second. But alas, duty calls, and it gets recapped here.

Deadpool is very funny. I suppose I could stop there, but where’s fun in that? The movie delivers more jokes in the first quarter-hour than the combined total in all the X-Men films.

My favorite line came from Wilson. He speaks to his girlfriend and says that if her legs are Thanksgiving and Christmas, might they get together between the holidays?

The taxi driver had a nice subplot of kidnapping his rival for the love of Gita. He had Deadpool in his phone as “Mr. Pool.”

Amplifying Deadpool’s humor is his costume. The red and black ensemble and white eyes should strike terror in his enemies. In the audience, it makes his sense of humor funnier. The outfit evokes Strongbad, though I suspect the genesis runs the other way.

The Simpsons is often credited as the first major TV show in which its characters watched TV. Deadpool is likely the first superhero movie to reference other superheroes.

Deadpool knows he’s a comic character, yet he lives in the same world we do. He tapes a photo of Hugh Jackman, another of People‘s Sexiest Men Alive, to his face beneath his Deadpool mask.

Setting (4/4)

I have no idea where Deadpool lives. It’s a city, but a nondescript one. The movie occurs in five locations: the city, the bar, the secret lab, the highway, and the junkyard.

No place inspires me to hop on Kayak. Everywhere is dirty. The secret lab has walls covered in rust and grime so gross that Law & Order murder locations have looked cleaner. Blind Al’s apartment is a mess, you can’t dive any deeper than Weasel’s bar, and all highways are ugly.

The best-looking place is the junkyard and the unfinished carrier. At least it has open spaces and doesn’t seem full of nasty trash.

These locations are perfect for Deadpool. He lives in the gutter, has a gutter mouth, and even falls into a garbage truck after he cuts off his hand. I might not like it, but it’s perfect for him.

Commentary (2/2)

All the commentary is fully intentional and as in your face as that regenerating baby hand.

Ryan Reynolds sucks at acting, according to Ryan Reynolds, who lampoons Ryan Reynolds’s acting skill. If your lost after that sentence, I guess the movie didn’t offer you much.

Deadpool speaks to the audience. He tells knows we are in the theater. When he impales a goon on his swords, he addresses the confused girlfriends in the audience who “thought this was a superhero movie.” As Deadpool says often, he’s no superhero.

Deadpool finds that the Stewart-McAvoy X-Men timelines confuse him as much as they confuse us and Fox executives looking to keep all their actors in mutant roles.

The opening credits lampoon Hollywood casting tropes, while adhering to those tropes. A lot of bad guys are British, and so’s Deadpool‘s. The lead actress is often “a hot chick.” Morena Baccarin is a hot chick. And are producers greedy? I’ve never met any, but….

Deadpool was an enormous box office success. The movie tallied the best February and R-rated opening weekends in history, and even beat all other releases by Fox, including all the X-Men films and the Star Wars prequel trilogy.

Deadpool came along at the perfect time. He knows audiences are tired of Marvel-style grimly serious and sanitarily violent superheroes. Deadpool’s movie harkens back to the action titans of the 1980s.

Offensiveness (0/-2)

If you dislike dirty humor, steer clear. I like dirty humor, and none of the jokes bothered me.


  • Something not explained: why does Wilson need his mutant genes unlocked to cure his cancer? I’m neither biologist nor geneticist, but someone should tell me.

Summary (41/68): 60%

Deadpool? Maximum effort.