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80. Deadpool 2 – This Just In (#183)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney and with special guest Graham Day, This Just In is a subset of The 250 podcast, looking at notable new arrivals on the list of the 250 best movies of all-time, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users.

This time, David Leitch’s Deadpool 2.

At time of recording, it was ranked the 183rd best movie of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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Non-Review Review: Deadpool 2

Like the original, Deadpool 2 is being talked about as a deconstruction or comedy. It’s not really. At least, not primarily.

Deadpool 2 is most effective as a very simple and straightforward superhero narrative with a shade more violence and a dash more awareness. There are laughs in Deadpool 2. And a few truly great jokes. There are even occasionally moments where Deadpool 2 will take a montage or a couple of scenes specifically to set up a later pay-off. However, these are the exception rather than the rule. And it’s no coincidence that this set-up leads to the biggest laugh in the film.

Not basic Cable.

More to the point, Deadpool 2 never opts for a joke over an efficient plot beat. Deadpool 2 never even distorts its plot in order to cram a few more laughs into the runtime. The gags are largely there to decorate the plot, not to direct it. They’re fun, but they aren’t especially brutal or pointed. There’s never a sense that Deadpool 2 exists as a deconstruction or critique of superhero movies, that it has anything especially insightful to say about the genre beyond accepting that modern audiences are genre-literate.

To be clear, this is not an issue with Deadpool 2. In fact, what’s most remarkable about Deadpool 2, particularly in the age of superhero bloat and franchising, is the relative efficiency with which it tells a simple story. For all the jokes about genitalia and all the pop culture references that crowd the narrative, there is more genuine emotion in Deadpool 2 than there is in Avengers: Infinity War. The characters are better defined, their arcs and motivations clearer, their agency repeatedly affirmed. There is an endearing and infectious earnestness beneath the dick jokes.

Just Joshing.

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Non-Review Review: Deadpool

Deadpool is an incredibly juvenile self-aware R-rated superhero action comedy.

And there is nothing wrong with that.

Drawing on the character's rich history...

Drawing on the character’s rich history…

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Mark Waid, Ian Churchill and Ken Lashley’s Deadpool – Sins of the Past (Review/Retrospective)

This May, to celebrate the release of X-Men: Days of Future Past, we’re taking a look at some classic and modern X-Men (and X-Men-related) comics. Check back daily for the latest review.

It’s interesting to try to chart the meteoric rise of Deadpool. Over the past decade, Deadpool has emerged as one of Marvel’s most popular comic book characters. He features in various miniseries and variant covers, populated quite a few books from month-to-month. While his exposure hasn’t quite reached the same level as that of Spider-Man or Wolverine, Deadpool is easily one of the most frequently-appearing characters in Marvel Comics.

It is strange to think that he is a relatively young character, originating in Rob Liefeld’s New Mutants shortly before it became X-Force. First appearing in February 1991, Rob Liefeld created Deadpool as a decidedly nineties character – “the merc with the mouth”,  he felt like a conscious composite of Spider-Man with more outrageous villains (or anti-heroes) like Deathstroke. Indeed, the similarity is something of a cheesy joke. Where might one practise their Deathstroke? In the Deadpool, of course.

Crossing swords...

Crossing swords…

Liefeld created a cheesy and hyperactive foe for his mutant characters, allowing the character all manner of cheesy and awkward one-liners. However, that version of Deadpool is almost unrecognisable when compared to the character as he exists today. The modern version of Deadpool is a character aware of his own fictional nature, with dialogue balloons painted yellow to distinguish him from the less self-aware characters around him.

Today’s Deadpool is more of a comedy force of nature than a serious anti-hero, a character basking in the absurd rather than trying to appear badass. It’s interesting to wonder how that character transformed so radically (and so thoroughly). Certainly, his first solo miniseries seems to occupy the strange space between Rob Liefeld’s half-serious mercenary psychopath and Joe Kelly’s comic book comic. While still a little too steeped in nineties aesthetic for its own good, Mark Waid’s Deadpool is a small step in that direction.

Well, at least he knows how to make an entrance...

Well, at least he knows how to make an entrance…

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Rick Remender’s Uncanny X-Force (Review/Retrospective)

To celebrate the release of The Wolverine later in the month, we’re taking a look at some classic X-Men and Wolverine comics every Monday, Wednesday and Friday here. I’m also writing a series of reviews of the classic X-Men television show at comicbuzz every weekday, so feel free to check those out.

Between Uncanny X-Force and Venom (and arguably his run on The Punisher), Rick Remender seems to have built a comic book career out of rehabilitating symbols of nineties excess. Taking a bunch of grim and nihilistic concepts that were very popular in mainstream comics during the nineties, Remender uses them to craft a compelling story about the wages of vengeance. Its premise and pedigree might lead you to believe that Uncanny X-Force is another throwaway comic about gratuitous violence. Instead, it’s a masterpiece about profound consequences.

Welcome to the World...

Welcome to the World…

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X-Force Omnibus by Rob Liefeld & Fabian Nicieza, Vol. 1 (Review/Retrospective)

To celebrate the release of The Wolverine later in the month, we’re taking a look at some classic X-Men and Wolverine comics every Monday, Wednesday and Friday here. I’m also writing a series of reviews of the classic X-Men television show at comicbuzz every weekday, so feel free to check those out.

Rob Liefeld has become something of a polarising force in comic books. The artist was a driving force in the industry in the nineties. Along with creators like Todd McFarlane and Jim Lee, Liefeld really helped turn comic books into an artist-driven medium during that decade. (Rather pointedly, X-Force #1 credits Liefeld as responsible for “everything but…” the specific tasks dolled out to other contributors.) The artist became a celebrity in his own right. He got his own Levi commercial. He famously sketched while speeding inside a car.

Liefeld has arguably become more a symbol than a creator. His heavily involvement in the second year of DC’s “new 52” reboot really solidified the impression that former Marvel head honcho and current DC editor-in-chief Bob Harras was trying to channel the nineties comic book market. (The fact the line has been heavily emphasising contributions by Jim Lee and Greg Capullo, other nineties superstars, really underscores the notion.)

It’s hard to look at X-Force without seeing it as a hugely symbolic work. This is really one of the comics which defined the nineties – arguably even more than Jim Lee’s X-Men or The Death and Return of Superman. If you wanted a glimpse into the mindset of American mainstream comics in the nineties, X-Force is the perfect glimpse.

Welcome to the nineties!

Welcome to the nineties!

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Non-Review Review: X-Men Origins – Wolverine

Well, at least it’s an action movie that acknowledges its pointlessness. It isn’t a spoiler to point out that – since Wolverine doesn’t remember his origin in X-Men and has to reminded in X-Men II – none of the events here have any real importance to the character development of the Canadian superhero. The audience knows buying a ticket that anything he learns will be erased and lost and that the film itself is just an explosion-filled flashback which, even if had something worth saying, would be pointless anyway. That said, it does deliver somewhat convincing action sequences and two very good leading performances.

The other man of steel...

The other man of steel...

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