My plan was to address this letter to Deadpool’s title sequence designer—after which I would make some clever comments about how, if nothing else, the film had a kind of internal integrity worth recommending. Then I was going to compare Deadpool’s opening credits—which were absolutely true to the tone of the film throughout—to other, more opaque, and nonrepresentational (to the point of distraction) opening sequences, like David Fincher’s Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.
All this was going make the larger point that Deadpool, while essentially being the lucid dream of some really clever, but utterly perverse, 13 year old boy’s id, was at least fundamentally honest about its intentions from the start.
Anyway, that whole conceit kind of swallowed its own tail when I found out that you were a first time director who had largely made his bones as the creative force behind Blur Studios—which, among other things, had fashioned the opening titles for David Fincher’s version of Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.
So instead of that I will go with plan B—where I point out that along with the writing team from Zombieland (Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick), you have managed to create a film that is flat out fun to watch. The opening titles skewer the film’s own narrative premises (the usual superhero origin story tinged by dark and gritty regret) without actively sneering at the larger framework (superhero movies in general)—and, in doing so, they announce that the movie we are about to see is as happy to laugh at itself as anything else, while still managing to follow a narrative compelling enough to carry us through the various inevitable discursions.
Oddly enough, the structure of this review has ended up mirroring what Deadpool does so well, which is comment upon its own story as it is occurring. This kind of narrative balancing act is really delicate to maintain—and probably only viable when the story is so boilerplate that it requires very little effort to follow. So while Deadpool the movie is a uniformly fun ride, it really doesn’t hold together under scrutiny. The only way to get anything at all out of this film is simply let it wash over you without spending too much time examining all the moving parts.
This is the kind of movie that probably was going to happen sooner or later—a late period superhero film that lives and dies on the expectation that the various tropes being skewered are so thoroughly inculcated that they don’t need much explanation. Deadpool is built upon the probability that the people watching it are at least moderately familiar with what it’s lampooning, so in some significant ways it is kind of a niche market. Like Zombieland before it, Deadpool is a fine confection—like a really good cheesecake. So if you like cheesecake, you’re good. If you think cheesecake is a pointless, empty collection of fat and calories, I wouldn’t bother.
Deadpool has very little to add to a larger cultural conversation and even as a story it is pretty small stakes, but, in this case, these are both definitely points in its favor. Because I think you and your team seem to have remembered something a lot of other people have lost track of—comics and the movies they spawn can be fun just for the sake of it. So thanks for a night of just that, Mr. Miller. And I look forward to whatever you next put your hand to.
As long as it isn’t yourself.