Deadpool. The First Super Anti-Hero?

deadpool-movie-poster-20161The Sloth is in cheery mood today – NOT. We’re hopping mad and spoiling for a fight. Specifically with the low down dog of our neighbour’s landlord who is refusing to take responsibility for the roof of his house blowing off and flattening our car. We need some supremely violent, bloody and fervid catharsis.  We need Deadpool.

 

Deadpool is the first Marvel movie to receive a US ‘R’ rating which means at some point a big cheese Marvel exec said “I know, let’s make a movie that our target teenage boy demographic can’t actually watch” and another big cheese Marvel exec replied “great idea!”.  And yet, despite seemingly flying in the face of all logic, Deadpool scored the highest ever opening for an R rated movie at the US box office.

 

On paper, this is a typical Marvel ‘origins’ story, tracing the history of plain Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds), a special forces operative happy with his lot and in love with his soulmate Vanessa (Morena Baccarin).  After a cancer diagnosis Wade’s life falls apart and in search of treatment, he agrees to undergo an experimental procedure that leaves him a mutant with accelerated healing powers and a face like ‘an old avocado’. Arise Deadpool.

 

So where does this depart from the Marvel norm and what were those big cheese execs onto?  Two words: Ryan Reynolds.  The Sloth has long championed Mr Reynolds as both cracking dramatic actor (check out the supremely disturbing Buried) and underappreciated comic talent (see The Voices).  In Deadpool he gives a stonking performance as the titular foul mouthed, wisecracking, smart arsed antihero who, rather than fighting for good, is simply the bad guy who beats up worse guys.  

 

What also isn’t so typical are the eye-watering, Tarantino levels of gleeful violence, graphic sexual references and irreverent, anarchic tone.  The opening credits list the clichés of the comic book genre: ‘the British villain’; ‘the hot chick’. Deadpool’s addresses to camera not only break down the fourth wall but bite the studio hand that feeds him, with numerous snarky jokes at the expense of the X-Men movies. And perhaps in deference to the older R rated audience, digs are made at Mr Reynold’s own advancing years, on which note The Sloth would like to commend the use of an age-appropriate love interest – the gorgeous Morena Baccarin is 36 years old – radical casting in HW.

 

Of course much of these claims of subversion are arguably cosmetic for, despite all the posturing, Deadpool does still adhere to the basic conventions it claims to reject.  Yet it still feels fresh, funny, untamed and infinitely preferably to any other ponderously self-important superhero movie we’ve sat through in recent years. The Sloth is already looking forward to the inevitable franchise. Now if only we could persuade Mr Reynolds to nip round & sort out that landlord…

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

captain-america-the-winter-soldier-uk-poster (1)Marvel aren’t half on a roll. Having perfected a mixture of high octane action and dry one-liners, they’re churning them out quicker than you can say ‘Tony Stark’. Latest to join the family fold is Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Chris Evans buffs up his All-American quarterback looks for his second outing as the good Cap’n. Having acclimatised to his laboratory induced super-strength, he’s now struggling to come to terms with the modern world. Aged 95 (and looking marvellous for it – whatever moisturiser he’s using, The Sloth wants a large vat) he’s been too busy helping his employers, Shield, see off bad guys to have much leisure time, chalking up a cultural ‘To-Do’ list that includes watching the 1966 world cup final and listening to Marvin Gaye.

However his self-improvement has to take a back seat as Cap’n is called up for a new mission by his boss Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson – devoid of Kangol hat but replete with a natty eye-patch).  Despatched with other agents including colleague The Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) to save the crew of a container ship taken hostage by pirates, Cap’n soon realises the mission may not be as straightforward as it seems.

It packs all the requisite big action set pieces and sly wit we’ve come to expect, along with an unexpected and quite pointed critique of our contemporary, all-controlling society. Add a top supporting cast, including Anthony Mackie as The Falcon and the slickly suited and booted Robert Redford as head of Shield, Alexander Pierce (is there any man who wears a three piece suit with such effortless sartorial flair as Robert?  We’d gladly spend 90 minutes just watching him adjust his snow white cuffs) and we were happily entertained. The fanboy next to The Sloth was quite overcome as the end credits rolled, repeatedly gasping ‘oh wow’ to no-one in particular. We can’t guarantee the earth will similarly move for you, but the 3-D glasses might make you a little dizzy.

UK release 28 March

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Iron Man 3. The Man Of Stark Steel.

ironRobert Downey Jnr playing a superhero is a moot point. In The Sloth’s book, Robert Downey Jnr is a superhero. How else do you explain the Phoenix-From-The-Ashes transformation of drug-addled convict to the most entertainingly charismatic set of acting chops since Johnny Depp’s dreadlocks? And in Iron Man 3 the charisma gets unleashed to full megalomaniac baddie-destroying potential.

You know the drill. Rob plays Tony Stark, eccentric billionaire egoist who spends his days holed up in the BatCave, whoops sorry, IronmanCave building mechanical super-suits till something bad happens. Which in this case involves Guy Pearce sporting dodgy blonde hair, Italian Stallion suits and loafers with no socks. Meanwhile, a terrorist going by the name of The Mandarin is busy creating terror, aided by an army of cohorts who turn red and very, very hot under the collar when angry, till they eventually explode.

Along the way, Pepper Pots Gwyneth gets to show off those well-documented abs and wear very high heels. A cute kid pops up to banter with Robert. And Ben Kingsley is uncharacteristically very funny. But really, this is Robert’s show. You come for the quips and quickfire ad libs and he doesn’t disappoint.

Aside from all that, The Sloth has been looking into our crystal ball and you know what will happen, don’t you?  In these shallow, public appeal is everything days, we’re going to get saddled with PM Boris while the Yanks luck out with President Robert. Damn them. At least the trade summits will be entertaining.

UK release 25 April

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