Monday, February 22, 2016

Real Name: Wade Wilson
First Appearance: New Mutants #98 (February, 1991)
Fight Club Ranking: #17

Featured Fights:
- vs JUGGERNAUT: Deadpool: Sins of the Past #2 (Sep 1994)
- vs TASKMASTER: Deadpool #2 (Feb 1997)
- vs HULK: Deadpool #4 (Apr 1997)
- vs AJAX: Deadpool #19 (Aug 1998)
- vs BATROC THE LEAPER: Deadpool #20 (Sep 1998)
- vs DAREDEVIL: Contest of Champions II #4 (Nov 1999)
- vs TASKMASTER: Cable & Deadpool #36 (Mar 2007)
- vs PUNISHER: Deadpool: Suicide Kings #2 (Jul 2009)

Well, it finally happened! After a decade and a half of 'will they? won't they?' - they finally did it! They made a Deadpool movie! Not only that, but they serviced the material well enough to give the public the breath of fresh air long time fans always knew it could be! When it comes to Hollywood, that's no mean feat! When it comes to X-franchise rights holders FOX: it's a rewarding step away from the stubborn stain of their early successes with Bryan Singer and black pleather.

A theme of Hero of the Week in 2016 has been design and the first bite of the eye, which arguably defines comic book superheroes. The punch of the Deadpool visual was one of the movie's strongest tools -- a striking icon to hang their hat on in promotion, and a mea culpa for the truly bizarre take on the character seen in X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

Actor Ryan Reynolds has long been committed to realizing the look of the character on screen. Sure, he gets plenty of requisite face time with the camera, but ultimately gives himself to the costume with rare abandon for a name actor. If there's a confidence behind that choice, it's undoubtedly his ability to project himself beyond the mask. Something he does in harmony with the character from the page. The three biggest heroes of this movie may be Deadpool, Ryan Reynolds and director Tim Miller.

By most accounts, Deadpool isn't a perfect film, but it didn't necessarily need to be. Having lopped off great sections of script to come in under FOX's requisite budget - Deadpool has earned the right to a second try. It's a working proof of concept. An R rated slapstick superhero with a profit margin, reckless abandon, and the lasting cultural impact that Marvel Studios' Ant-Man lacked. Just as X-Men was the lesser trial run for X-Men 2 -- Deadpool, by rights, should be the launching pad for a bigger and better sequel, or franchise. The exercise now is -- as many voices are saying -- taking the right lessons when movie forward. Something Hollywood rarely does.

There's been a lot of talk about the precedent Deadpool's R rated box office records will set. It's worth noting that, although an exception to the Disney controlled Marvel Studios films, this is hardly the first time a comics adaptation went to theatres with an R. In 1981, Heavy Metal became an early entry in adult cinema's comic cult. Judge Dredd went there twice - in 1995 and 2012. Even Marvel heroes have gone R before: The Punisher and Blade accumulating six R rated movies between them.

Most voices agree: Few properties require, or would benefit from, the exclusions of an R rating. I would argue Deadpool didn't even need it -- perfectly capable of finding bawdy laughs and superhero levity with a faithful PG-13 rating. They went R and it worked, but if a third Wolverine film thinks an 18+ escalation is going to solve any of their problems, they're still painfully missing the point.

Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn responded to certain reactions with a surprisingly frank statement. He praised the deviant vision of the character and film: "Deadpool was its own thing. THAT's what people are reaction to. It's original, it's damn good, it was made with love by the filmmakers, and it wasn't afraid to take risks." It's a spirit sorely lacking in today's big budget movies.

Of course, Deadpool's originality is ultimately sourced from the comics themselves. The character on the screen owes a lot to the comic version, but it's worth noting much of what surrounds him is not a slavishly faithful adaptation. Ajax is a notably pale shadow of his comic book self, as an example.

Bigger than the question of MPAA ratings and content advisory will be what comes next for the character in a confirmed sequel. Taskmaster was reportedly excised from the original script -- an obvious target for a referential sequel, provided the Avengers villain is accessible to FOX.

Venturing deeper into the Marvel superhero universe for the purposes of parody and the contrast has a lot of appeal, but FOX's bench may prove too shallow. Just as Taskmaster may not fall under the catchall of X-Men licensing; familiar crossover characters like Hulk and Daredevil may be a bridge too far. That's where Wolverine and Cable probably offer attractive options for a clash of the self-serious and the completely ridiculous.

The idea of coaxing Hugh Jackman into extending his tenure for a proper Wolverine/Deadpool screen meeting has a lot of appeal. It does, however, run the risk of cutting the fresh franchise off at the knees in the same way Days of Future Past diminished the strides made by First Class by going back to the 2000s well. It may be best doubling down on further establishing Deadpool's world in a sequel, saving expansion for the talked about X-Force film.

If Jackman follows through on his retirement threats, it may be that Ryan Reynolds and the red & black become the franchise anchor they can come to rely on. Sure beats recasting!

That wraps a big month of Deadpool lovin' here on Secret Wars on Infinite Earths. It's been a lot of fun reconnecting with some very fun comics, and one of my favourite characters of the late 90s. If you missed any of the fun, be sure to check out the Featured Fight links at the top of this post. You can always find even more in the Issue Index, previous Hero of the Week entries, and other updates! Share your favourites with friends so we can revisit the good stuff in the future!

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