A Deadpool movie has been on the cusp of being made since 2009. (I’m deliberately neglecting the David Goyer rumored project from way back in ‘04 because let’s face it; slim to dick chance that was gonna happen.)
With Ryan Reynolds attached to the titular role, Richard Rodriguez as director, and a script by Zombieland screenwriters Rhett Rheese and Paul Wernick, things were looking real good. (For our review of the script, click here.) Then matters got all obfuscated when Reynolds became attached to rival company DC’s Green Lantern and Richard Rodriguez’s involvement as director fell through.
But talk of a Deadpool movie is stirring once again. Let’s suppose the pieces fall into place this time around. (And before I get so old I contract glaucoma in both eyes.) Here’s what we’ll need to see:
1. Not having even an infinitesmal possibility of being misconstrued as/or resembling this:
“Mllit’s mphee Mlealdpoll. Mli lknomn mloo clat underand ee ut I wot oo lit my own roat.” (First person to translate this wins the very first Adventures in Poor Taste no-prize.)
You’ve heard the derision:
“He’s the ‘Merc with a mouth.’ And they went and sewed his mouth shut. Good one, assholes!”
“I would have walked directly out of the theatre had I not been so damn beguiled by disgust. It was like looking at day old roadkill. With binoculars. Or a trainwreck. A flaming trainwreck sent hurtling into an orphanage full of Autistic children.”
“He looks like if Baraka from Mortal Kombat and a wet turd had sex. And the resulting half turd offspring took a shit immediately after eating a tinful of sardines and Oscar Mayer cheese dogs.” Or as Pool himself would say, “A crap circus with a tent pitched right on our faces.”
And while those might be slight embellishments, the fact remains: that Deadpool we saw at the end of X-Men Origins: Wolverine wasn’t faithful to the comic book version we know and love. Not even close. Who the hell was that fraudulent grotesquerie and what was that poppycock we had mushroom stamped across our foreheads?
Then again, we shouldn’t be that surprised. This was Hugh Jackman’s thing after all; a Wolverine movie. Deadpool was merely an afterthought. A popular name for Hollywood to cinematically whore out and namedrop cram into the film to show viewers, “See, we got all your favorite characters in here. We bad. We hip.” Ryan Reynolds made a fine Wade Wilson in the beginning what with the sardonicism and katana twirling… but even that wasn’t enough to expunge the atrocity that was Weapon X. And yes, let’s just keep calling “it” Weapon X because I don’t want whatever that was tantamount to Deadpool in any way, shape, or form.
I know, I know. Hollywood Behavioral Code 101: When Hollywood gets its money-grubbing paws on something popular, bad decisions are made; ones that deviate from the authenticity of the original product. Just don’t do this when it’s actually Deadpool’s movie. Or there’ll be Hell to pay.
2. The right supporting cast
“Well no shit, braniac. Every movie needs that.”
Hear me out. Deadpool’s a wild and crazy guy. This we know. But how do you best accentuate this to moviegoers who have never seen him before and don’t know his deal? Juxtaposition of course.
We need the gentle reminder of a clinically sane human being like you or I (might be pushing it there) asking Deadpool, “What the hell is wrong with you?” when he’s talking to himself or professing his love for Bea Arthur or when he’s Shoryuken-ing Kitty Pryde in the face or when he informs his sassy prisoner/den mother Blind Alfred that he hid all her meds just so she’d “have something to do all day while he was gone.”
It’s funny because she’s old. And blind.
Blind Alfred is an exemplary supporting character because we need a sagacious, motherly-figure whom Deadpool can turn to support, who at the same time is commensurately quick-witted and sharp-tongued; someone he has built a true rapport with. No one is going to believe Deadpool is worthy of redemption or affection if he has some sycophantic old fart there acquiescing to his every whim. In fact, that’d just be cruel. But the fact that she is technically Deadpool’s prisoner and still platonically fond of him? Perfect. That shows Deadpool has some semblance of a heart. Sure he’s mischievous and destructive; but he’s not just some mindless killer or incorrigible sociopath like the Joker.
And who else would let him cry on their lap?
So we’ve got Blind Alfred. Who else do we need? Taskmaster? Bob of Hydra? Both engaging characters in the comics and perfect foils to Deadpool. But no. We don’t need either because this is Deadpool’s first film and we want to keep things simple. And we don’t want Tasky or Bob getting some ironic, diluted treatment that was given to Deadpool in Wolverine. (Although that would be a funny 4th wall joke for Deadpool to make.) So let’s go with Weasel. Sure he seems like more of a punching bag to Wade than a true friend, but just present it in similar fashion to the relationship that Will and Carlton had in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Sure Will rashed on him. Profusely. But at the end of the day, he’d still have his back.
3. Ambiguous morality
Common question in the Deadpool mythos: Is he good, bad, or somewhere in between? We all want to see Deadpool stabbing throats and cracking skulls with nary a second thought, but he’s at his best in a state of inner strife; when he questions the repercussions of his actions, his own morality, and most importantly, where he fits in the crazy scheme of things.
Just find the right balance. That is, don’t make him a mopey, emo carebear (though he is a rare Marvel protagonist that genuinely doesn’t like himself) or conversely too coldhearted, but still make him the kind of guy that’d kick Captain America in the nuts given the chance. Or one that would scare a mental hospital patient just for the hell of it:
And show that although he’s regarded as a scumbag… there are still lines he just won’t cross:
4. Crazy, but not too crazy
Hallucinations in the comic book format are a little more acceptable; the writer has to churn out a new adventure every month and seeing Deadpool envision Norman Osborn as the giant from Jack and the Beanstalk or seeing Wolverine snikt out sporks instead of razor sharp claws is pretty damn funny.
But don’t go overboard with that shit.
Because we don’t need to turn this into some Wild World of Tex Avery episode or a surreal, Daliesque realm better suited for Gogo Dodo.
Same thing applies to the myriad inner voices that seem to be the status quo for the character in the Daniel Way issues. As Carl Jung said, “It’s too idiotic to be schizophrenic.” Or Sergeant Lincoln Osiris from Tropic Thunder: “You never go full retard.”
Hell, I like when Deadpool acts like a nutjob as much as the next guy or gal. But the fact remains: he can still throw down and he’s still proficient at what he does. He’s a highly trained assassin and considered one of the best fighters in the Marvel Universe. Nowadays writers make him a punching bag on account of his healing factor or make him a borderline inept lunatic for cheap laughs, but that’s not the approach to take in the film.
Crazy? You bet your sweet ass. But never dead weight.
And while the movie need not become Nolanesque, the subject matter needs to be taken somewhat seriously; we need to see that the reason Deadpool is so ostensibly insouciant on the surface is primarily on account of how screwed up his past is. His father was mentally abusive. He has very few family or friends. He has extremely strong regenerative powers, but they have ironically fused with his cancer, which is the only thing keeping him alive, and which has left him horribly scarred as a result. Think slightly milder Fight Club with Wade Wilson being reminiscent of Tyler Durden. Dark, unsettling, and satiric elements punctuated by the inherent humor of Deadpool’s mentality.
Get it done Marvel and 20th Century Fox.
5. 4th-wall shattering
Obviously. You put Deadpool in any sort of entity and he’s fully cognizant, big screen included. As long as they don’t go overboard and make him into Jim Carrey’s The Mask, it’ll serve to bring a unique perspective and present myriad opportunities for the sort of sly, self referential humor from a Marvel character that we haven’t yet seen.
One promising factoid that seems to suggest that this will happen is that Ryan Reynolds seems to get it. Based on interviews, he exudes a sense of passion for playing the character, and more importantly, seems to have done some homework:
I’ve told Fox already that the only way there’s ever going to be a ‘Deadpool’ trailer is if Deadpool makes his own trailer… He needs to be talking to the movie audience … with the movie trailer voice: ‘In a world… gone mad… one man… must stand alone…’”
That’ll do pig.
6. An R-Rating
Now here’s a conundrum. “Watchmen and Kick-Ass were R-rated and they didn’t do well at the box office. And Jonah Hex had a hard PG-13 rating and was based on a mature Vertigo comic and tried to be all violent and what not, but it bombed. What makes you think that Deadpool will fare any better?”
Well, here’s the deal. Watchmen, although an amazing graphic novel, was not as strong on the big screen; it was too long and confusing for the average moviegoer to enjoy without having previous knowledge of the characters and the storyline. And Alan Moore probably cast some sort of terrible affliction on it with his gnarled Eye of Horus wand and the blood of a DC Comics employee’s family dog beforehand.
Kick-Ass simply didn’t have the inherent following going into it that an Iron-Man or a Spider-Man does. It didn’t smash any records, but it actually did about as well as expected.
And Jonah Hex? Despite Megan Fox’s best efforts, was just a terrible movie. And pretty much pulled the day after its release. (Grossed only $10,547,117 in total on a $47 million budget and has a whopping 12% on Rotten Tomatoes.)
Notwithstanding, Marvel needs to take a chance with the Deadpool film. We’ve already been robbed of the man’s demented idiosyncrasies once in the X-Men Origins: Wolverine and once was enough. The character has become increasingly popular since I first started reading him. He has enough of a following to stay true to the character’s fundamental principles. That is, Deadpool shouldn’t be PG-13 because he’s not “family friendly.” He’s not Captain America. He’s like Spider-Man on crack. He is in every way an atypical superhero/antihero. “So how in the hell is this going to work?” That’s exactly it. He’s not your typical superhero. Make that clear in the trailers, advertising, promos, viral videos, the whole shebang. What do we see as an introduction in the beginning of every Deadpool comic and what approach should be taken for the film?
Some jobs are just too tough for your average fast talkin’ high-tech gun-for-hire. Sometimes…to get the job done right…you need a person crazier than a sack’ a ferrets. You need Wade Wilson. The Crimson Comedian. The Regeneratin’ Degenerate. The Merc with a Mouth…DEADPOOL.”
Why, that’s just crazy enough it could work.
Want to learn more about the Merc with a Mouth but don’t know where to start? Pick up the AiPT recommended: Deadpool Classic, Vol. 2, which features Joe Kelly’s initial run on the first Deadpool ongoing.
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