I could tell you that when I was a kid in the 90s I had already developed a sophisticated taste in comic books. I could say I thought the unreasonably big boobs, the plethora of pouches, and the emergence of gratuitous violence were garbage. I could even tell you I spent more time with my nose buried in independent mags because “that’s where the good storytelling was.”
I would be lying. Anyone else who was my age at the time would probably be lying, too. I loved Spawn and wasn’t entirely immune to the countless comics with “X” in the title. My tastes ran more toward Dark Horse, Scud: The Disposable Assassin, and any comic with a hideous monster on the cover (see: Law Dog), but those were a product of the times, too. I look back on the comics of the 90s fondly, but I wasn’t collecting death issues and variants like lottery tickets.
I didn’t know much about Deadpool until the last few years or so. I’ve liked some of his stuff and some of it I couldn’t stand. What I’ve admired the most seemed tricky to pull off: making an insane character sympathetic, tragic, and immaturely funny at the same time. That’s where most of the stories went wrong. The movie has many of the same troubles, but for the most part it does a surprisingly good job mixing it all together. I won’t say I fell for the romantic subplot, but it didn’t feel forced, either.
Deadpool is an origin story even though it scatters its intro throughout the rest of the movie in the form of flashbacks. The effort to make it feel different from other origin stories is appreciated, but it’s not different enough. It also has the unfortunate side effect of screwing up the pace at times.
The movie begins on the short section of car-piled freeway you’ve seen so much of in the trailer. Yes, these are the best parts of the movie and yes, the trailers showed just a little too much. Right off the bat, Deadpool is after a guy named Francis who horribly disfigured the hero in an effort to discover his deeply buried mutant genes. (The opening credits, in true Deadpool fashion, bill this actor as “British Villain.”) Francis isn’t a great villain and I wish I could report otherwise, because movies like this need a really good villain. Frankly—and this is coming from someone who isn’t necessarily a fan—Deadpool deserves better.
That’s probably why I didn’t enjoy the movie as much as I could have. The movie’s funny (there’s a howler of a scene that successfully homages the black knight scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail) and the action is often impressive, but I just didn’t give a shit about Deadpool’s plight, partly because he didn’t seem to care very much about it either. That’s been my problem with the comics: once you give the character a hard-edged focus, he loses his comic sensibilities and ceases to be Deadpool. The movie doesn’t bother going there, playing almost everything for laughs instead. Like I said, Deadpool’s recipe is a tricky thing to pull off, but the movie is good enough you’ll be glad they tried.
So, does Deadpool have an end credits sequence? Yeah, but I don’t think you’re missing much if you want to beat the crowd into the parking lot.