Tuesday, March 1, 2016

DEADPOOL (2016)



PHENOMENALITY: *marvelous*
MYTHICITY: *fair*
FRYEAN MYTHOS: *adventure*
CAMPBELLIAN FUNCTION: *sociological, cosmological, psychological*


The short review would be pretty much the usual thing: "DEADPOOL is balls-to-the-wall fun for the viewer who's getting a little bored with lookalike superhero films."

That said, I can't help noting that as far as its basic plot, DEADPOOL isn't any more complex than, say, ANT MAN. The devilish fun is entirely in the details, such as the opening credits, of which I'll only say that it's the only film where I thought, "Even if the rest of the film is a loss, the credits are worth the price of admission."

In the spirit of said credits, it's easy to break down DEADPOOL into its many familiar tropes. There's a cynical "bad hero," who comes off as less than entirely villainous because he only kills, maims or torments people who deserve it. He meets a "hot chick, " the love of his life, but their future together is questionable when the bad guy gets a badder, totally terminal disease. This leads to a forbidden scientific experiment-- easily the most tedious trope these days, seeming to make an appearance in almost every Marvel adaptation. This experiment creates the super-badass Deadpool, who then goes on a crusade against the guy behind the evil experiment. Villain-protagonist gathers some allies, the villain kidnaps the hot chick, and there's a big fight at the end.

In keeping with the Marvel comic, Deadpool's charm is that he's so motor-mouthed that he makes Classic Spider-Man sound tongue-tied, with the added benefit that Spidey could never indulge in so many R-rated riffs. I credit writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, as well as director Tim Miller with having the sagacity to know just when to create enough melodrama to keep the character relatable-- even if they puncture it in the next minute with a dirty joke.

I'm largely unacquainted with the comic-book Deadpool, but I've been told that his origin in the comics simply amounts to his being injected with the blood of another Marvel character, Wolverine, so that the character obtains the same ability to heal from almost any wound. The film presents a more interesting origin. The evil experiment consists of subjecting its victims to mammoth amounts of pain and stress, in the hope of triggering "mutant genes" that manifest in super-powers. Intentionally or not, this may be a metafictional comment on a familiar trope of superhero comics, where the hero gains his powers by living through some experience that ought to kill him, be it a lightning-strike, a gamma bomb, or the bite of a radioactive spider.

Deadpool's backstory is that he was once a special forces commando who became a whimsical mercenary, and though his motor-mouth seems improbable for anyone in any military service, parts of the film-origin bear strong resemblance to a familiar trope in which disaffected soldiers are subjected to weird superman-making experiments, notably UNIVERSAL SOLDIER. Deadpool exhibits absolutely none of the familiar maladies of soldiers-returning-to-civilian-life-- no post-traumatic stress disorder, no survivor guilt. And yet, because he's disfigured by the evil experiment, and fears showing his ugly mug to his former girlfriend, this does bear some interesting similitude with narratives about disfigured ex-servicemen.

But I'll admit that this is just a side-attraction. The jokes are the thing here, and there are a lot of them . As in the tradition of vaudeville, if you don't like one barb, another will be along in a minute-- and it'll probably be sticking out of someone's ass.

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