MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
Directed by Tim Miller. Starring Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin
Every superhero world seems to have a shadow side somewhere. Fifty years ago Superman Comics introduced Bizarro World, a square planet in which all of the characters’ bodies were drawn in straight (rather than curved) lines and everything was logically backwards. Bizarro Superman and other characters were rewarded for their stupidity.
Here’s how the world of Deadpool begins. Wade Wilson (Reynolds) is a mercenary for hire who is diagnosed with late-stage cancer. Submitting himself to a scientific experiment to save his life (conducted by the evil Ajax (Ed Skrein), Wade’s face is horribly disfigured. Side effects of this treatment include a cure for his cancer, the gift of superpowers, and the ability to quickly regenerate after being wounded. Nevertheless, it’s time to create a costume (which looks suspiciously similar to Spiderman) and seek vengeance!
Wade quickly receives assistance from two of the minor characters in the X-Men universe: Colossus (Stefan Kapicic), a giant Hulk-like fighter, and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), a Goth girl with the ability to use telekinetic powers to blow stuff up.
I could go on and tell you about Deadpool’s faithful girlfriend Vanessa (Baccarin) and best bud Weasel (T.J. Miller), but there’s not much that really can be said about them other than they serve as foils for Deadpool’s constant verbal banter.
While the larger Marvel Universe is concerned with fighting evil and working together for a cause, Deadpool gleefully skewers the other superheroes for quick laughs and wisecracks. Nothing is sacred (there is a quick joke about menstruation in one scene when blood starts spurting from a wound).
As bad as things can get in Deadpool, there is really nothing new under the sun. Nonstop crude dialogue aimed at young adults has been a part of most of Kevin Smith’s View Askewniverse comedies beginning with 1994’s Clerks. Offensive and crude humor has accompanied the satire of South Park, a popular cable cartoon show that has been around since 1997.
Attention must be paid to Deadpool, however, because it marks a turning point in pop culture in which casual vulgarity no longer causes much of a stir. Since this film spoofs the world of Marvel Comics so well – and the X-Men/Avengers/Spiderman/Iron Man/Thor/Captain America characters are so popular, parents are bringing middle school children (and younger) to Deadpool (the R rating requires that parents accompany their kids). And people love it! Deadpool has already grossed over $600 million worldwide (about $300,000,000 in the U.S.).
I don’t think that Christians need to get too worked up over this film. It’s just another origin story superhero movie with an attitude. But we do need to remind ourselves that the multiplexes continue to fill their screens with time-wasting empty-headed violent diversions (many of them set in dystopian worlds). Personally, I enjoyed watching Deadpool. It was engaging and funny. But it was a time waster.
Entertainment can be simply a way to escape the pressures and the demands of life. But the best art is more than diversion, set in a moral universe in which the viewer is encouraged to think about the possibilities of life. When I finished watching Deadpool, all I thought about was the possibility of a sequel.
Two halos: A crude and clever spoof of comic book movies featuring a committed Ryan Reynolds in the lead.
Three pitchforks: The vulgarity, violence, and sex are all at a 13-year-old schoolyard level, but the movie decides to stay on the playground for two hours straight.
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Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
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