Wednesday, February 24, 2016

God's Perfect Idiot

So the consensus is in and it's already old news: Deadpool is good. I agree, and we could leave it at that, but being your friendly neighborhood Marvel Nut, I figured I would weigh in with a little more detail anyway.

I suspect that most people are surprised by Deadpool due to its content. The extreme, Looney Tunes meets Tarantino violence. The excessive profanity, black humor, and boobs. Such things are not seen in screened superhero fare, even DC's grimdark epics, or Marvel's edgier Netflix offerings. Those things were actually exactly what I expected, but the execution was far better than I dared hope. After the broad-spectrum, hyper-irreverent marketing, I expected a good flick, but a mainstream smash hit? A record breaking opening? Approval from established critics? All from a freshman director? Holy shit.

And of course, not even a week after release, Fox announced an R-rated Wolverine 3. The machine is already trying to make a mould out of something original. Which is an ass-backwards take-away. This movie represents a tremendous, refreshing willingness to take risks. An untested director. Controversial content. A character without mainstream recognition. If the studios want to turn anything about Deadpool into a playbook, I would say that this proves there is still warrant to using entertainment marketing campaigns. Sure, there is a demand for 18+ superhero movies, and it's about time the suits figured that out, but slapping gore, gutterspeak, and softcore into your flick will not automatically make a hit of it.

Some have pointed out that Deadpool comics are actually tamer than the movie, which is one of the reasons I found it so gratifying. A lot of Wade's more risque behavior is left between the panels in the comic books. Here it's front and center. The character has fewer boundaries here than in the source material. The movie contributes to the character's development rather than merely adapting him to new audiences. At worst, Wade Wilson is a juvenile 'lolsorandom' jackass. Spastic annoyance made manifest. At his best, he is post-modern pagliachi with a katana and hand grenades. This movie captures both ends of that spectrum, and goes further in both directions than anywhere else.

The other thing that made this silly movie such a pleasure was that it was a breath of fresh air from the two main flavors of superhero movies in the past ten years. Grimdark, like Man of Steel and the rest of Fox's X-Men franchise, or Disney's lighter-hearted action-packed romps. When watching the X-Men Apocalypse trailer, and the Dawn of Justice trailer, I didn't feel hyped. I felt fatigued. Even Civil War, which is supposed to introduce Black Panther and Spider-Man and maybe kill off some crucial characters filled me with a sense "Oh. This again." Deadpool was the opposite of that.

But once again, I'm wondering how far this superhero streak will stretch. Especially since a new power is rising. As fellow nerds are succumbing to capes and tights fatigue, Star Wars is sweeping in to fill the void (Disney currently has a film in theaters, a film in post, one shooting, and another that's casting). That well won't run dry for another decade, maybe longer given the franchise's fanatic base. I'm thinking that anime will be the next big thing.

On the one hand, it's kind of gross. Nerd is no longer a dirty word, but the mainstream strain of the culture has been reduced to slavishly lapping up the latest installments in mega franchises. On the other hand, yes, I do in fact want to see how the Rebels stole the plans for the Death Star.

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