“Guess whose balls I had to fondle to get here?”
For a film that’s been nearly a decade in the making, from its conception to the long-awaited R-rated version on screen (a point of much contention to YouTube moms everywhere), the answer to that question I assume would be … many.
But first, a Sparknotes style history: In 2009, a baby-faced Ryan Reynolds played a cynical but tame — and pointedly maskless — Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, opposite Hugh Jackman and some of the worst special effects of the decade.
A spinoff featuring Deadpool, however, showed promise, and the script for the film was churned out a year later. Test footage was prepped, filmed, edited, manicured and effectively buried when Fox decided — despite ardent protests from director Tim Miller and the axis-on-which-the-story-spun, Ryan Reynolds — that the film wasn’t economically viable. When that footage was eventually leaked in 2014, the comic book world raised enough hell to pressure Fox into greenlighting the film.
The finished product, which was pre-screened at IV Theater on Wednesday and released in theaters Fri., Feb. 12, is indeed a studio’s worst nightmare in every sense of the term. It is a superhero film that betrays every expectation of the genre, a narrative founded proudly on an egocentric struggle to satisfy vanity in a gratuitous bloodbath. There’s brain matter on the ground and phallic references in the air. It is the farthest thing from Captain America, and it is a film only your drunk uncle would accidentally take your horrified, seven-year-old nephew to see.
And yet, this film is … charming. Authentic, even. As you watch Ryan Reynolds as Wade Wilson (pre-Deadpool) break into a home and threaten an unsuspecting pizza delivery boy with a steak knife, his eccentric banter is amusing enough to woo even the hardest skeptic. When he falls in love with Vanessa, the film’s stereotypical love interest and stripper from down the street, you feel something like sentimental throughout their obligatory montage of kinky sex. And when he sits beside said love interest in a doctor’s office letting the shock of a cancer diagnosis wash over him, you wonder for a moment if this is just going to be a weirder version of The Fault in Our Stars.
Thankfully, it’s not. After receiving an offer from a character who looks like the son of an Indiana Jones villain from decades’ past, Wade Wilson leaves Vanessa to undergo experimental treatment that cures his cancer but physically scars him in the process. Deadpool is born, and on his way to avenge his own vanity, he exchanges (or imposes) more blood and psychotic banter with his Indian taxi cab driver, blind housemate, the barebones cast of X-Men and the evil British guy who caused all his suffering.
There is a part of you that may want to sift through this film and discover its deeper, existential musings. You might hold out hope that behind the self-congratulatory, persistently condescending, acutely self-aware character of Deadpool there is a sort of satirical message to be gleaned from the depths of this darkly sardonic lack of a soul. But to do so would be an insult to the filmmakers’ intention. Deadpool is exactly what it promises to the audience: fast, gratuitous and profane. Your mother will most certainly take insult at its existence, but you will bask in the glory of Deadpool’s apathy. That’s what the movie wanted. One hour and forty-eight minutes of unadulterated liberation for you to revel in.
In a world where we are forced, in every space, to tread lightly, encouraged to apologize, to hold back, Deadpool says what we want to say, in unapologetic, unbridled excess.