This image released by Twentieth Century Fox shows Ryan Reyonlds in a scene from "Deadpool." (Joe Lederer/Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. via AP)

This image released by Twentieth Century Fox shows Ryan Reyonlds in a scene from "Deadpool." (Joe Lederer/Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. via AP)

Reeling it in: ‘Deadpool’ is funny, lowbrow – and a blast


Twentieth Century Fox

1 hour, 48 minutes

There are a lot of comic book fans out there either celebrating this week’s “Deadpool” as the ultimate comic book adaptation, or decrying it as a trashy big screen version of a smugly stupid action hero.

Both opinions miss the mark. “Deadpool” is a lovingly created, exquisitely crafted practical joke of a film. More precisely, it is the cinematic embodiment of Mad Magazine’s version of an “X-Men” movie.

Of course, the actual “Deadpool” comic book (which — full disclosure — I’ve never read) is apparently kind of Mad Magazine-y itself, so the movie must be right in line. This silly, self-mocking demeanor is a big part of why the movie works so well. “Batman” and “Superman” are definitely going the grim and dark route, but I think people are a little tired of it. They want their adventures to be a little more light-hearted. Just look at the success of “Ant-Man” or “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

However, just because the audience is looking for humor, that doesn’t mean they want cheap or shoddy. No one wants a big-budget superhero movie from the Scy-Fy Channel. “Deadpool” gives the audience the laughs, the quality, and one other thing that’s been missing from the superhero scene (unless you count “Watchmen”) — an R rating. The same crowd that demands their Will Ferrell and Seth Rogan movies filthy has been clamoring for a superhero of their own, and now they have him, complete with graphic sex and violence. I would be annoyed if the movie wasn’t so well put together.

Ryan Reynolds plays Wade Wilson, an ex-special forces guy who now beats up people for money and who will eventually be transformed into the wisecracking indestructible killing machine known as Deadpool. Reynolds has obviously sold his soul to the devil, because there’s no reason he should have been able to do what he’s done with this, now potentially lucrative, franchise. This character first showed up, also played by Reynolds, in 2009’s “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” movie. The movie was terrible and Wilson’s “Deadpool” alter-ego, though referenced obliquely, never really becomes the superhero he is in the comics.

After that film nearly killed the “X-Men” franchise, Reynolds took up lobbying that he wanted to do a truer version of his character and assured the studio that audiences would eat it up. Now, there’s no denying that Ryan Reynolds is a charming, funny guy, but from the studio perspective they had to be dubious. This is the same guy who’s “Green Lantern” was a massive bomb, to be followed by “R.I.P.D.” a kind of “Ghostbusters” meets “Training Day” debacle that should have spelled doom for his career.

But no. Instead, Reynolds scraped up the cash to do a “Deadpool” test reel that convinced the studios to try it again, this time going with a hard-R version of a character first introduced in a movie aimed at teenagers. That would be like taking “The Amazing Spiderman,” ditching everyone but Jamie Foxx’s Electro, and then making an explicit comedy around that character filled with naked women and exploding heads. I don’t think Foxx could get that done, and he’s a pretty big star. Clearly, Ryan Reynolds has sold his soul.

Motivation and plot aren’t really the point in a movie as self-aware as this one is, but “Deadpool” certainly has them. When Wade discovers he’s got cancer, he is approached by a shadowy organization who promises to heal him and make him a superhero, but fail to mention that said cure involves non-stop torture. Eventually, Wade’s dormant genes wake up and he gets his super on — only to take away his good looks in the process. Thus begins a revenge spree that turns into a rescue-the-girl spree, all accompanied by the non-stop patter of our hero in top fourth-wall shattering form.

“Deadpool” is smart about how dumb it wants to be. It never explains the science behind activating Wade’s mutant genes or attempts to dive deep into any of the chemistry or physics of the film, unlike the “X-Men” franchise. You may wonder why the constant comparisons to the X-Men, but it’s because Deadpool exists in that universe.

Indeed, there are two X-Men in the film, two side-characters who manage to be both more alive and more fun than their serious film counterparts. Colossus is a character the X-franchise has been trying to get right for years, with no success. “Deadpool” makes the giant Russian a cartoon character, but it feels appropriate, if a little silly. Even better is a character I’d never heard of called Negasonic Teenage Warhead. I have no idea what that means, but as played by Brianna Hildebrand steals every scene she’s in with nary so much as a raised eyebrow.

There’s no denying that “Deadpool” is not for everyone. And I certainly don’t see this as a positive direction for the majority of comic book adaptations to go. But as a diversion, as an example of how the comic book genre, like the western, can embody a whole host of sub-genres, it does an excellent job. The movie is funny, witty, incredibly lowbrow, and a complete blast.

Grade: A-

“Deadpool” is rated R for extreme violence, pervasive language, graphic nudity, and explicit sex. Do not be fooled by the fact that the lead character fights bad guys in a colorful skin-tight suit. This movie is not for kids.

Chris Jenness is a freelance graphic designer, artist and movie buff who lives in Nikiski.

More in Life

Ward off Halloween’s mystical monsters with these garlic-infused cheesy shells and pepper sauce. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: Tasty Halloween

Keep spooky creatures at bay with garlic-infused shells and pepper sauce.

Will Morrow (courtesy)
Let there be lights!

When I stopped in at one of our local stores, I didn’t cringe when I saw all the holiday decorations on display.

Cabbage, potatoes, salmon and an assortment of pantry staples make for a culinary challenge. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: Take a culinary pop quiz

Get creative with what’s in your pantry

This undated John E. Thwaites photo, perhaps taken near Seward, shows the S.S. Dora grounded. (Alaska State Library photo collection)
Resilience of the Dora, part 3

Her long career had come to an end at last.

Nick Varney
Unhinged Alaska: Sometimes I wonder, who needs who

Dog whispers we are not. Suckers for unconditional love, you bet.

Meredith Harber (courtesy)
Minister’s Message: Don’t let termination dust bring you down

If I’m honest, this time of year is the hardest for me mentally and emotionally.

Pieces hang on display at the Kenai Art Center for the open call show on Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
‘They felt like they could share with us now’

Art center open call offers space for new artists.

The Cosmic Hamlet Entertainment film crew prepares for a new scene to roll on the set of “Bolt from the Blue” at the Kilcher Homestead on Sept. 28. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
‘Bolt from the Blue’ film features Homer

“The Office” star Kate Flannery cast in feature film produced in Homer.

These old-fashioned doughnuts don’t skimp on the fat or sugar. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: Memories of old-fashioned doughnuts

My recipe is for old-fashioned doughnuts, and since I make these maybe twice a year, I don’t skimp on the sugar and fat.

Virginia Walters (Courtesy photo)
Life in the Pedestrian Lane: October is here again

The days are shorter. We are losing nearly six minutes a day. It’s getting colder.

This John E. Thwaites photo shows the S.S. Dora near Sand Point, Alaska. Thwaites sailed as mail clerk on the Dora between at least 1905 and 1912. (Alaska State Library photo collection)
Resilience of the Dora, part 2

The S.S. Dora touched lives on and became part of the history of the Kenai Peninsula and Southcentral Alaska.

Steller Sea Lions can be seen in an enclosure at the Alaska SeaLife Center on Friday, Sept. 24, 2021, in Seward, Alaska. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)
Alaska SeaLife Center to Alaskans: We’re still here for you

You rallied and kept us alive. Today, we’re writing to say thank you.