Sorry Avengers members, looks like you’ve got some competition. Debuting as the eighth installment in the X-Men film series, the R-rated Deadpool has all but obliterated its competition in the box office, currently grossing $497.6 million since its release on Feb. 12—a total which The Guardian notes is greater than the totals from Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The First Avenger and Captain America: The Winter Soldier combined. While I am a huge Marvel fan and love all of the aforementioned movies, it’s clear after watching Deadpool as to why the film has done so well. The prototype for a superhero-centric film is drama with bits of comedic relief sprinkled throughout. Deadpool, however, flips the script on the generic model, using incessantly outrageous and clever humor throughout the movie to create a refreshingly new addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
For instance, watching protagonist Wade Wilson—Deadpool—break the fourth wall in intense action scenes to quip with the audience about whether or not he left his stove on or why “that guy in the suit just turned that other guy into a fucking kebab” brings a much-needed sardonic playfulness into a film genre that is often executed with excessive seriousness.
Arguably, the largest factor in Deadpool’s success is the superb acting of Hollywood heartthrob Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool. Reynolds plays the sassy, obscene pansexual mercenary with endearing charm and authenticity, dropping F-bombs and sexual innuendos left and right while fighting off bad guys. Reynolds’ ability to portray the multi-faceted nature of Deadpool’s personality keeps the film from becoming too kitsch. He is a sweet and devoted boyfriend one minute, an immature teen giggling about teabagging a villain the next. He’s fun, he’s flirtatious and he uniquely brings both elements into his fighting style.
Not only did Reynolds shine in his role, but so did the supporting cast members. Deadpool’s bespectacled bartending best friend Weasel—played by T.J. Miller—is sweet and funny, deadpanning brilliant one-liners like, “You are haunting, you look like an avocado had sex with an older avocado.”
X-man Colossus—voiced by Stefan Kapičić—is a giant teddy bear of solid steel, acting as a patient advisor to badass female trainee Negasonic Teenage Warhead—played by Brianna Hildebrand. When teaming up with Deadpool, the chemistry between the three was great and I hope to see them work together again. I also really liked Morena Baccarin as Deadpool’s girlfriend Vanessa, but since Reynolds has hinted that his character may have a boyfriend in the sequel, it’ll be interesting to see if she sticks around for long.
The only time I thought the characterization fell flat was when it came to the antagonists. In the opening credits, we learn that the movie features “a British villain.” And that’s pretty much all the substance we get from said villain and mutant: Ajax. His motivation to experiment on humans to make and sell mutant “slaves” to wealthy clients wasn’t developed well at all—neither was any indication of how these individuals lose their agency. Ajax’s henchwoman Angel Dust is no better in terms of personality—or lack thereof. I was surprised and disappointed that both villains were so underdeveloped.
While I do agree with many critics that the plotline is pretty standard, the utterly unique characters presented in the film, their hilariously shocking actions and their comments kept the audience captivated and itching for more. Deadpool unapologetically tore down antiquated constructs of what makes a superhero film great—and judging by these box office numbers, people are very happy with the result.u