"One thing that never survives this place" — pause for dramatic effect — "is a sense of humor." Or so Marvel character Wade Wilson, alias Deadpool, is told before he undergoes an experimental treatment that cures his terminal cancer, gives him super-healing abilities, and turns him into a slightly deranged element of the Weapon X program, the same government initiative that produced Wolverine and Sabretooth. But, as evidenced in both his comic-book origins and in the new trailers for Deadpool, the titular character doesn't lose his sense of humor after his transition — he just finds it directed towards slightly more macabre situations. As the antihero of the Marvel stable, Deadpool breaks the mold of the X-Men franchise that produced such stoic characters like James McAvoy's Professor X — figures with strong, absolute moral compasses. And as such, Deadpool may also be a Marvel movie that even appeals to those who don't like Marvel movies.
From the outset, Deadpool (or, at this point, Wilson) seems aware he's about to transition into a superhero. "Please don't make the supersuit green — or animated," he pleads his doctors. He exhibits a self-awareness that's rare among Marvel favorites like the mopey Hulk, who wears every emotion on his human face and wields it with his mutant fist. The trailer alone seems to herald a new era of Marvel superheroes (Deadpool, played by Ryan Reynolds, briefly appears in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but his personality isn't nearly as developed) — and with Marvel movies scheduled for release through 2019, it's high time the studio diversify to attract new audiences who might not already be a part of the X-Men or Avengers fandoms.
So, with his sense of humor intact, here's why Deadpool and its titular antihero may be the Marvel movie that finally appeals even to non-Marvel fans.
Deadpool Regularly Breaks The Fourth Wall
Even in his original comics, Deadpool is aware that he's a comic book character — he communicates directly with readers, often to humorous effect. (That sense of humor again — he definitely doesn't lose it in the transition.)
He Might Be Slightly Deranged
A former Special Forces operative turned mutant, comic-book Deadpool is depicted having multiple internal voices with which he communicates. And if that wasn't clue enough, it's revealed that his pre-existing mental instability may have been exacerbated by the experimentation interfering with his brain development.
He Isn't Your Self-Serious Superhero
With an offbeat, often violent sense of humor, Deadpool is a superhero more in the vein of Jessica Jones than Captain America — the dark side of saving civilians, rather than the self-serious earthly savior. Indeed, there's really nothing self-serious about him. In one trailer, he drops into a van, shows the driver an image he's drawn of his target (illustrated with his brains blown out) and asks if anyone has seen that man.
Deadpool Will Introduce Some Other Key Marvel Characters
Colossus, who has appeared played by Daniel Cudmore and Donald MacKinnon throughout the X-Men movies so far, has been cast opposite Deadpool and will be played by Stefan Kapicic. Deadpool will also feature Silicon Valley's T.J. Miller as Weasel, Gina Carano as Angel Dust, Brianna Hildebrand as Negasonic Teenage Warhead, and Morena Baccarin as Copycat.
And Many Of Those Characters Are Women
As the trailer plays, there are still a lot of sex jokes, usually made by men at a woman's expense. But for audience members who have grown tired of the overwhelmingly male-dominated cast of characters on the Marvel screen, Deadpool will feature a higher proportion of Marvel superheroines, antiheroines, and villainnesses to balance the status quo. Marvel movies have also neglected to set up coherent backstories for central female characters like Black Widow, so perhaps Deadpool will also give more insight into the development of its women. Though Deadpool ostensibly sets out to save his "best girl," she herself shoots back with, "I've played a lot of roles. Damsel in distress ain't one of them."
He Plays Both Mercenary And Good Guy
With the moniker "Merc with a Mouth" because of his tendency to monologue and make untimely interjections, Deadpool doesn't always play the good guy. He's sometimes cavalier about human deaths, but at the end of the day, he has his own sense of right and wrong — something audiences might be able to relate to more than the classic superhero mold. And it's a theme that will also come up again in Captain America: Civil War, in which the Avengers are divided with conflicting senses of the right direction for the superhero organization to take. Reynolds, who plays Deadpool, explained that X-Men Origins depicts a different man than will appear in his own movie — "it’s dark and twisted and rated-R and nasty and you get to do all these things that these gigantic comic book properties can’t necessarily do," he told Entertainment Weekly. And if that doesn't mean a divergence from Marvel Studios tradition, I don't know what does.
In refusing to adhere to the classic superhero mold, Deadpool presages a new kind of Marvel character, one that has already been tried out in Jessica Jones and will be sure to recur with heroes like Black Panther and the inter-Avengers conflict of Civil War. The days of Iron Man are behind the Marvel characters now, and their sense of right and wrong will only grow more conflicted as their numbers grow and the problems they face become more complex. It's a Marvel that hews more closely to the diverse personalities of the comic books than the crowd-pleasing superhero movies of Marvel Studios so far.
Images: 20th Century Fox (4); Giphy