So the Deadpool trailer has finally dropped. While not the same trailer that blew up Comic Con earlier in the summer the red band trailer is still pretty fun and impressive with a lot of the same beats from the comic con trailer. The main things that are missing are a lot more of the swearing and fourth wall jokes but a lot of that was ultimately added flavor more than legitimate substance. All the important stuff the trailer needed to get across is still here: Deadpool looks like Deadpool, the action is bloody, the humor gross and juvenile, and the character will be intermittently self-aware. It’s also confirmed this will be the first R-rated superhero film since the Blade series concluded, though the first ever R-rated superhero film was 1989’s Punisher.
In case you’ve been previously living in blissful ignorance, Deadpool is a character from Marvel’s massive stable of mutant characters that live under the umbrella of the X-Men. He originally appeared in the ‘90s as part of the very bizarre subsection of the X-Men mythos that revolves around the character of Cable, the time displaced son of Cyclops from the future. Cable’s a mercenary by trade and tended to hang around with another mercenary named Deadpool who had amazing healing abilities. Rob Liefeld created the original design with a lot of inspiration taken from the Teen Titans villain Deathstroke. Despite debuting in 1991 the character languished in the background of comics for a few years with a couple mini-series by comic legends Mark Waid and Fabian Nicieza. However, it wasn’t till 1997 when Joe Kelly & Ed McGuiness launched a Deadpool solo comic that the character became the cult sensation that we all know and, presumably, love today.
Kelly & McGuinness’ take on Deadpool was an action comedy, grounding the character in violent slapstick, gory action, a lot of juvenile humor, and a tendency to break the fourth wall and address the audience. His quirky nature made him a modest success for a long time, till eventually he was discovered by the Internet in the early 2010s and ballooned up to mega-status. During that time Deadpool got a little insufferable due to his oversaturation so I’m glad the film isn’t coming out till next year because only recently has he receded in his prevalence.
As to the trailer itself, like I said I like it and I have to imagine a lot of Deadpool fans like it as well. A lot of that comes from just how dedicated the trailer seems to the source material. Fox’s superhero films have never been very good about fidelity, certainly not the degree of hits like Spider-Man or Iron Man, so suddenly seeing them double down on visual and tonal transliteration. Part of this is probably due to how the Deadpool movie got green lit in the first place. What happened was that the original Ryan Reynolds test footage got leaked and the incredible fan love it generated online led Fox to go ahead with the film. Regardless of why the film is as faithful as it is I’m a big fan of this approach. After over a decade of stripping out the more fantastical or comic book-ish elements of the X-Men mythos only to produce a string of visually drab and tonally stagnant middling action flicks has left me burnt out on Fox’s standard approach. This doesn’t seem to be a limited trend either given that X-Men: Apocalypse seems to be featuring vibrant and well-designed adaptations of the comic book costumes rather than more black leather to say nothing of the focus on big cosmic out there ideas instead of more “oppressed mutant” storytelling.
Speaking of, Ryan Reynolds seems seriously on point in this trailer as well. I know a lot of folks are already writing the film off as juvenile pandering but I’d counter this saying that’s what Deadpool always was as a character. Deadpool has always been more of a wallow in moderately bad taste with some metahumor on the side more than anything else. There’s a tendency to try and imagine his comics were more grounded in breaking the traditional format or playing around with character awareness but that’s really just the nostalgia goggles talking. Deadpool’s primary existence has been predicated on a cross section of over the top gore, colorful swearing and crude sexual humor, and boiling his trademark self awareness on how immature this all is into T-shirt ready quotes and one liners.
There are still a few things left unclear based on this trailer, mainly questions of continuity. The big monkey wrench for me is that Deadpool is clearly meant to take place in the modern day and seems to actually include characters from the X-Men films like Colossus. However, it’s unclear whether or not Deadpool will fit into the X-Men continuity and especially how it will fit into that continuity. Ultimately though, that’s a minor question as X-Men: Apocalypse’ position as a reboot means that regardless of how the continuity puzzle pieces fit together now they’ll all be thrown apart in a few months. What’s more likely is that Deadpool is Fox hedging their bets on Gambit. It’s clear that Fox sees Hugh Jackman as basically the only major draw in the X-Men franchise and with his impending departure they’re very desperate to find a new draw now that the superhero is less of a fad and more of a market force. What’s most likely is that if Deadpool is a hit they’ll integrate the character into the post-Apocalypse X continuity, probably through that X-Force film they’ve been working on for awhile. And if Deadpool fails, well it won’t be too long till they can just hit the reboot button and try again.
Deadpool is slotted to come out on February 12th, 2016.