The 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…