The 9 ways Deadpool crushes it for me might be different than your list, because I’m several years older than a lot of the fans who headed to the theater opening weekend. Deadpool shattered box office records for biggest February opening, biggest opening for an R-rated movie and biggest opening by a first-time feature director. My personal experience involved arriving at the theater Sunday night, thinking the crowds would have thinned, only to find my chosen movie time was sold out. I was forced to buy an IMAX ticket and make a run for the showing happening right then. I walked in just as it started, and had to sit at the tippy top, on the aisle. So, Deadpool was even more skewed than normal.
Regardless of my near miss and my sub-par seat, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I’m a chicken, so there were times I closed my eyes and plugged my ears. I also confess I was nauseous here and there (so many knives!). But seeing Deadpool was so worth it.
9 Ways Deadpool Crushes It
—- SPOILERS AHEAD
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED —-
#9 No Kids Allowed
You know how sometimes you see a movie that’s been rated R because it has, like, a few F bombs in it? Deadpool is not that movie. Deadpool is decidedly adult. I don’t mean goofy adult, like Bridesmaids, but just plain ol’ adult. If you’re not a grown-up, you will not get about half of the jokes in Deadpool. Yes, there’s a lot of cursing, and violence, and sex talk, and a bit of nudity. But the cursing, violence, sex talk and nudity are not stunts in and of themselves, like they are in many movies for grown-ups. They are part of the story, part of the character.
It’s so nice to be treated like an adult.
#8 “You’ve got something in your teeth.”
Deadpool pulls off a mixed tone that few other feature films have done successfully. Deadpool is equal parts funny, campy, tragic, scary and violent. Deadpool (a.k.a. Wade Wilson) jokes with other characters, and the audience, as easily as he slices someone in half.
A perfect example of balancing humor and tragedy in Deadpool is the scene when Ajax, a.k.a. Fraaaaaancis, had enough of Wade and straps him into the oxygen deprivation chamber. We see the tiniest crack in Wade’s brave facade while Ajax is explaining how horrific his torture will be, and it’s heartbreaking. The next instant? “You’ve got something in your teeth.” That’s our Wade.
#7 “Nothing Compares to You”
Deadpool also refers to pop culture touchstones so deftly it’s organic. Jokes about movies, TV shows and pop music are laid out so expertly, that it wasn’t until I was driving home, that I realized how skillfully it was done. For instance, Family Guy showcases its irreverent pop culture commentary in cutaway scenes that take you out of the story completely; the joke isn’t so much a wink, as a punch in the face. But Deadpool has nearly non-stop dialogue, and those pop culture references flow naturally through scenes, informing us about the character, rather than being trotted out on their own as a lazy way to get a laugh.
There are too many pop culture references to list. Several jokes, however, had callbacks later in the movie, like Sinead O’Connor lyrics, Judy Blume, Bronies, The Matrix and WHAM!. (It should be noted that anyone born before 1980 will enjoy more laughs than the rest of the audience, because most of the pop culture jokes refer to the ’80s.)
#6 Captain America, He Ain’t
I love the superheroes, and the Avengers are at the top of my list, Captain America especially. But like Deadpool tells everyone, over and over, he ain’t no hero. You’re thinking, sure, but don’t all heroes say that? Yeah, but, he really means it. While you’re watching Deadpool cut into bad guys like yummy chimichangas, it’s easy to think he’s a hero. He’s doing the world a favor, right? But when you run side by side comparisons of scenes from Deadpool and, say, Avengers: Age of Ultron in your mind (both are Marvel properties), tell me which one has way more blood in it. Actually, tell me which one has blood, because Avengers: Age of Ultron has an amputation, but Ultron’s hand must be hot enough to cauterize a wound, because there was zero blood on the floor. So goes any other violent scene in Ultron. Deadpool is bloody, bloody, bloody.
And language? Cap’ wouldn’t know what to do.
#5 “You’re still here?”
Breaking the fourth wall means not pretending that we’re watching a story unfold. Deadpool speaks to the audience, not only in the movie but also in his comic books. I’m not even talking about narration. He looks straight at us and talks to us, commenting on what’s happening. Deadpool plays with this technique, even having Deadpool get irritated when Collosus interrupts his conversation with us. All the actors are in on the joke, so we’re spared any “who are you talking to?” moments. A scene like that would be redundant, and insulting, because Deadpool’s audience doesn’t need anything spelled out.
If you’re a Marvel fan, you know to stay in your seat until after the credits. (I watched a herd of the unbaptized leave the theater as soon as the text credits began rolling.) The Deadpool after-credits scene is a perfect example of breaking the fourth wall, and it’s a parody of another hit movie that did the same thing: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. It’s a twofer!
#4 Meta Merc
When I say that Deadpool is meta, I mean that the movie is aware of itself. That sounds weird, but you know what I’m talking about, even if you don’t think so. For instance, in The Simpsons, there are times the characters will talk about being a cartoon. In “The Front,” an animation studio executive is telling Bart and Lisa that cartoons often unspool the same background image over and over to save money. Meanwhile, the hallway in which they’re walking shows the same door, plant and painting over and over. That’s meta.
Deadpool makes meta references several times. My favorite running gag is even more complicated. In the comics, Deadpool has a fixation on Wolverine. In the movie, not only does Deadpool make jokes about Wolverine, he also makes fun of Hugh Jackman, who plays Wolverine. 1) He imitates Wolverine using a bad Australian accent. 2) He packs a People magazine with Hugh Jackman on the cover as the Sexiest Man Alive into his duffel bag. 3) When Vanessa peels off Deadpool’s mask, we see he stapled the aforementioned photo of Hugh Jackman to his face. The fact that we know, in real life, Hugh Jackman plays Wolverine is what makes it funny, and that real-life reference makes it meta.
#3 Calendar Girl
Casting Morena Baccarin as Wade Wilson’s girlfriend, Vanessa, was a genius idea. Geek fans of Firefly (who tend to be loyal), V and Gotham will show up just to see the gorgeous Morena Baccarin sparring with the big boys, verbally and physically. Baccarin earned an Emmy nomination for her work on Homeland, but it’s her sci fi cred that interests me. She’s the rare actress that has successfully crossed over from genre shows to straight projects, and back again. Morena Baccarin, for perhaps the first time, gets to flex her comedy chops in Deadpool. She’s crazy talented, and a perfect fit in this cast.
#2 Who puts artisanal butter in the freezer?
I’ve mentioned on this website, more than once, that I’m an avid fan of T. J. Miller. Dude makes me laugh just looking at him. He’s also my favorite Pied Piper entrepreneur on Silicon Valley. (See the “artisanal butter” reference on YouTube.) In Deadpool, he plays Wade’s BFF, Weasel. I was expecting T. J. Miller’s usual brand of comedy, which tends to be random and flamboyant. I was very impressed that T. J. Miller dials back his snarky attitude and allows Ryan Reynolds to be the crazy. (Well, he is Deadpool.) T. J. Miller, a comedian, plays the straight man with ease, but still drops punchlines with impeccable comic timing. Deadpool gives me another reason for me to love T. J. Miller’s work.
#1 Mr. Lively
All of this — the balance of tone, the pop culture references expertly dropped, the rapid-fire funny — is made possible thanks to the talent of Ryan Reynolds, who plays Wade Wilson. Ryan Reynolds has always excelled at comedy, especially when rapid-fire delivery is needed. He’s famous for goofy comedies, like The Proposal and The Change-Up, but I remember him fondly from Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place. That TV series was his first big break. He was the funniest cast member, by far, and he wasn’t even the star of the show. He delivered punchlines like a Tommy gun and stole every scene in which he appeared. In Deadpool, he not only brings the funny, he has amazing moments when you’re drawn into his torment and pain. I can’t think of another actor who could have played Deadpool so perfectly.
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