By Jonny Walczak
New releases to the Marvel Cinematic Universe have become like public holidays. We get them every year, it’s more or less the same thing each time, but everyone seems to get together and turn out for it. It’s as enjoyable as it is exploitative, but you can’t help but feel you’re going through the motions more and more with every passing year.
Deadpool seemed like an opportunity for Marvel Studios to shake off the shackles of conveyor-belt filmmaking. After all, Deadpool is a self-referential pan-sexual that seems to find a sick pleasure in pretty much everything and everyone. It’s not the slightest bit surprising that Deadpool was one of the most anticipated films of the year.
Despite an inspired comedy there for director Tim Miller’s taking, Deadpool turns out to be largely uninspired. Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick’s script attempts to deride the tropes of the genre – a handsome leading man, a British villain, the CGI character – yet mostly opts to conform to them too. Take Deadpool’s antagonist Ajax: played by Game of Thrones graduate Ed Skrein, the film uses Ajax to poke fun at well-spoken villains that lack motivation – Ajax still ends up being just another well-spoken villain that lacks motivation. Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool is perfectly passable and very charming (as anyone would expect him to be) but he never finds the anarchy that made Deadpool iconic.
The entire production is entrenched in this mire of ‘just fine’. Miller attempts to maintain this tonal fluidity between action, comedy and tragedy, but because we have to have the Marvel™ climax between good and evil, the director is forced to conclude on a confused, anti-climactic note. Even the cinematography only really scrapes the surface of what a filmmaker can do with visual comedy.
None of this makes Deadpool a poor watch – there’s a lot of fun to be had throughout and enough action-packed fun to whet the appetite of most moviegoers. This doesn’t stop me from feeling that the film was achingly disappointing and a missed opportunity for the Marvel Studios to prove it’s not interested in simple conveyor-belt filmmaking. The tragedy here is that Deadpool, such an anarchic oddity, has decided to conform to the universe around him.
Image from Deadpool Movie Twitter