Thursday, March 31, 2016

Deadpool (Rhoades)

Front Row at the Movies

“Deadpool” A Bad-Boy Superhero Movie
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

Poor Ryan Reynolds has been desperately searching for a superhero franchise. This is his fifth time in a comic book movie. His turn in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” was lackluster. His big gig as “Green Lantern” was downright disappointing.”

Yet he’s been proving himself as more than a rom-com star with solid performances in “Safe House,” “Mississippi Grind,” and “Woman In Gold.”

So apparently the gods who run Marvel Studios took pity on him and tossed him the lead in “Deadpool,” the latest blockbuster-in-the-making from the House That Stan Lee Build.

Actually, Reynolds first played the Deadpool character in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.” But this time around he gets to stand in the spotlight. This reprisal will be closer to the original comic book.

Deadpool is arguably one of Marvel’s most quirky characters, an anti-hero named Wade Wilson who was subjected to experiments that leaves him with advanced healing powers. He can take a licking and keep on ticking.

Now you may say this sounds like a bit of a mesh-up. Captain America is the result of scientific tinkering. And Wolverine can heal faster than you can pull the backing off a Band-Aid. But Cap is a flag-loving Boy Scout and Wolverine is an X-Men team player. Not really a nice guy, Deadpool is a ruthless mercenary who takes no prisoners (so to speak). Displaying a dark sense of humor, he wisecracks his way through the movie. He’s called the “Merc with a Mouth.”

This talkative nature is used to bring the audience in on the joke as he breaks the fourth wall, calls attention to movie tropes, and skewers the superhero genre.

Not surprising in that the character was created by sharp-witted writer Fabian Nicieza and bad-boy artist-writer Rob Liefeld.

When I was publisher of Marvel Comics back in the mid ‘90s I regularly arm-wrestled (so to speak) with Liefeld, one of those marquee creators who left Marvel to form Image Comics. We’d farmed out some of our superheroes to the Image guys for a stagy Big Event called Heroes Reborn. Liefeld was contracted to write twelve issues of The Avengers, but I canceled the deal after six, reassigning the project to Jim Lee. Rob was just so darned difficult to deal with, refusing to turn in his work until I personally handed a check to one of his emissaries like a Bridge-of-Spies prisoner exchange.

Self trained, Rob Leifeld’s artwork was somewhat naïve (“I’ll be the first to tell you that we -- the Image collective -- were never the best artists,” he said), but it was his clever mind and stylistic approach that made him a hit among fans. Deadpool was a prime example.

“Deadpool” is currently breaking moviemaking rules as readily as Liefeld broke social conventions. You can catch it this week at Tropic Cinema.

Directed by Tim Miller, “Deadpool” is intended to be the eighth installment in the “X-Men” franchise, but its wiseacre approach makes it more akin to “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

Oddly enough, this film about a superhero with accelerated healing powers, disfigured skin, and an unstable mind is a love story. Brazilian-American actress Morena Baccarin (you’ll remember her from TV’s “Firefly” and “Gotham”) plays Ryan Reynolds’ equally twisted girlfriend.

Reynolds describes Deadpool: “He’s funny and acerbic and a little bit of a head case. But he’s also not trying to be liked, he’s intentionally trying to annoy everyone.”

Deadpool’s first appearance was in the comic book “The New Mutants #98.” As publisher, I gave him his own title in 1997.

Being the custom, Stan Lee has a cameo in the movie, that of a DJ in a strip club. Look closely and you’ll also catch a glimpse of Deadpool creator Rob Liefeld, playing a customer at a tattoo parlor. Interesting casting.

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