Dear Reader #13: Why DEADPOOL is a Miracle

Dear Reader,

Yeah yeah, February, Valentines, romance and stuff, never mind that. DEADPOOL.

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DEADPOOL’s opening weekend has already broken records. Yes, records, plural. It’s getting great reviews, great hype, and is actually pretty difficult to get into. Seriously, the first three times I tried to go see it, I couldn’t get a ticket.

Which is all the more amazing because, by all the metrics, this movie should not have been possible.

I’m not here to spend time talking about the film itself. At this point, you’ve got pretty much the entire rest of the internet if that’s what you want (speaking of which, check out our Spoiler-Free Review here). I’m here to explain the minor miracle Ryan Reynolds pulled off in getting this movie out in the first place. This movie was absolutely a passion project for him. I mean, there’s only two reasons to agree to play anything at all in Wolverine Origins, and I don’t think ‘wanting to be near shirtless Liev Schreiber’ is applicable in his case. So even back then, we could conclude that he loves the character.

The thing is, Deadpool’s origin as a character was a minor miracle in and of itself.

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Deathstroke as “Slade” on the Teen Titans TV show

See, way way back in the mists of time, there was a comic called Teen Titans, and there was a recurring villain in this comic called Deathstroke the Terminator. He was arguably a pretty important part in making Teen Titans a groundbreaking title. He was part of what turned a very “Teen Sidekicks have good-ol’ adventures, by golly!” sort of “Boxcar Children”-esque title into a serious series–a series that, I would say, first gave the DC superhero community its focus on the idea of legacy and heroism as a generational tradition, a focus that sustained it through the nineties and oughts until Flashpoint (ugh) undid it all. But that’s another article (though, for more vitriol on that point, click here).

The point is that Deathstroke was cool. You probably know this. You probably saw him on Arrow, though for my money the best version was the animated one, where they weren’t even allowed to call him Deathstroke and it somehow only made him cooler. Everyone could see that Deathstroke was cool…

…Including a fresh-faced young artist by the name of Rob Liefeld.

Now, understand how Liefeld works. This man once came up with an all-American, flag-wearing super-soldier armed with a shield named ‘Fighting American,’ who was DEFINITELY NOT a rip-off of Captain America because he was never shown throwing his shield (after Marvel’s lawyers threatened to sue if he ever threw his shield).

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This is some Original the Character level of artistry right here.

So, when Mr. Liefeld trots out a gritty mercenary, armed like Deathstroke and whose costume is almost the same as Deathstroke’s and whose real name is only one letter away from being the same as Deathstroke’s, most of us decided not to care even harder than we normally didn’t care about Liefeld characters.

Which meant when Marvel wanted to do a parody of the grim antiheroes that were saturating comics, hey, Deadpool’s schedule was pretty wide open. The Deadpool solo title is where Weasel and Blind Al come from. It was where he started breaking the fourth wall. It was where he developed the crush on Bea Arthur. This let them bring in the guy who writes Dr. McNinja to do an issue.

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Deadpool became himself by being allowed to be a parody… of himself.

And you know what? That’s how it’s supposed to be. When they tried to give us a Deadpool we were all supposed to take seriously, we ended up with a shirtless lump-man with his mouth sewn shut blasting eye-beams all over a nuclear power plant.

But after Ryan Reynolds spent ten years fighting for it (and Guardians of Galaxy proved that comic book movies don’t have to taken as seriously as a papal election), we not only got one of the funniest movies in years, we got a movie that actually looks like a Deadpool comic.

Because it is utterly silly. Just as a barometer–word is that Negasonic Teenage Warhead (a character whose heretofore claim to fame was making Shadowcat remark that the mutant community was running out of code names) was only included because Ryan Reynolds immediately insisted on using her based solely on the name. This presumably prompted a co-producer to ask if that insistence had been in-character as Deadpool, and then everyone had to go sit and think quietly about philosophical questions.

This is possibly the silliest movie since Airplane.

That being said, it is also a very violent movie. People get visibly disassembled. There’s graphic sex. This is arguably an exploitation movie. I am not in the least bit surprised that they released a fourth-wall breaking trailer telling parents not to take children to it. Funny though it may be, some people may have a hard time sitting through it.

I’d Sign Off with a Self-Aware Joke, but I Kinda Already Do Those anyway,

-The Guy Who Wrote This.

 

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