Why does everyone love Deadpool?
It’s not important.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying Deadpool‘s popularity — which is causing studio executive heads to spin — isn’t worthy of investigation. I’m saying Deadpool is proving so endearing to audiences precisely because it isn’t important.
It isn’t some foundational piece of a unified universe, or a stepping stone to endless spin-offs, or about grandiose villains who have a multi-generational plot to dominate the universe for insipid reasons, or even about a man (and yes, always a man) who feels the burning need to avenge his parents / cat / failed dry-cleaning business.
Deadpool is about Deadpool, a foul-mouthed, insouciant, killer who’d rather cut off his own hand than do what you want him to do. He doesn’t particularly want to die and — luckily or unluckily — now he more or less can’t. He’d like to reunite with his one true love (mostly because she’s just as foul-mouthed and insouciant as he is, but also because she’s Morena Baccarin and delightfully horny), but first he’d like to not look quite so much like a pile of yak vomit.
From its first instant, Deadpool makes this very clear. You want to invest in something? Fuck off. You want dark, gritty, and tragic? That makes you a bit of a tool, doesn’t it? You want to relive your youth through an interconnected saga of films and merchandise about goody-two-shoes jackasses in spandex outfits so naff that an 80’s jazzercise mom wouldn’t even ever ever?
Deadpool understands exactly what’s important about superheroes and that is this:
Not a good goddamned thing. Superheroes are good entertainment value if you understand that you’re laughing at them not with them. Deadpool (and Deadpool) would rather masturbate to Bernadette Peters than take anything seriously, especially superheroes.
Deadpool is just a vulgar, insipid, arch, and FUNNY way to kill a couple of hours. It pushes its meta-humor and its fourth wall obliteration techniques a tad too far a tad too early and it falls back on yet another third-act CGI battle-fest to wrap up but still. It’s not important. It’s not art. It’s not worth thinking about.
It’s just worth seeing.
I laughed the whole way through Deadpool. I laughed with it. I laughed at it. I laughed at how terrible the CGI character of Colossus looked and how terrible whomever did his voice delivered his mentally deficient lines (it was Stephan Kapicic). I laughed at Ryan Reynolds and with him, mostly because he was just so clearly enjoying himself so severely it was hard not to.
Normally, when the actors in a film are having a great time making it, that means the film itself will be lousy. Not so with Deadpool.
Deadpool is not lousy. Deadpool is the antidote to superhero madness, but one that doesn’t care if it works or not. Does it work? Not really. It’s still a superhero movie, just one that reminds you — quite rudely — exactly how dumb all these superhero movies are. I’m talking to you, nimrod, who thought Captain America: The Winter Soldier was like a 1970’s conspiracy thriller, and who thinks Guardians of the Galaxy was as good as Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Those films, also, were not important, except in their own estimation, which many of you have gleefully bought into with your feeble souls and mighty wallets.
Perhaps Deadpool‘s success will help knock the superhero invasion back a few steps, but likely not. In order to learn the correct lesson from it, studio executives would have to realize that it’s not important — and who can imagine that happening?
Nope. There will be more films just like Deadpool but somehow completely missing this film’s committed irrelevance and irreverence. They’ll be violent and crass and snarky and, most importantly, they’ll try to be successful. They’ll be like (I fear) Suicide Squad will be: about naughty, anarchic things but in a buttoned-down, all-business, show me the money way.
I’ve seen some of David Ayer’s other films. Despite what the Suicide Squad trailer teases, those films are not fun at all. They’re not insouciant. They’re not Deadpool. Only Deadpool is Deadpool.
Why is that?
It’s not important.