“I’d far rather be happy than right any day.”

I’m not sure if this is what my instructor was looking for when writing a film theory, but it made me happy to write it.


Deadpool is the latest gem in the lucrative Marvel stable of movies and characters, Marvel, and all of its incarnations over the last decade, owe their popularity and profitability to the tenacity of Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige.  Feige has taken risks with the Marvel franchise that have paid off tremendously.  The entire enterprise is built on the back of Iron Man, and one actor in particular, that no one really wanted at the time.  Robert Downey, Jr had been in and out of jails and drug rehabs for years and most other studios would have passed on taking a chance with such a problematic wildcard.  It is now, however impossible to imagine any other actor in the starring role of Tony Stark.  Instead of rushing into a compilation, he began introducing characters in their own movies that would eventually become The Avengers.  2008’s Iron Man was soon followed up with The Hulk, Thor, Captain America and ultimately the first of the Avenger movies in 2012.  The enormous success of these popular characters allowed the studio to take chances with more risky projects such as Guardians of the Galaxy, Antman, and Deadpool.  Why then has Marvel hit such a successful chord with the viewing public?  Screenwriters for the Captain America franchise have stated that the super hero movies are akin to the Westerns of yesteryear.  When questioned about the popularity of Marvel, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely responded:

“We’ve become a genre that you can do well now given the world of computers and perhaps it’s also just a time in the sun. You went to the movies in the 50s and 60s you went to a western. So at this point, you’re going to a superhero movie. It’s taking over that same black hat, white hat myth-making surface. I don’t have a much smarter answer than that” (Romano, 2015).

It is, however, Joseph Campbell, who penned the “Hero’s Journey”, a twelve step narrative process found throughout narrative history for masterful storytelling, which you can find throughout the Marvel universe and beyond.  George Lucas has even credited Joseph Campbell as being his “Yoda” (BANCKS, 2003).

Like so many movies before, Deadpool while consistently being an anti-hero story, still follows the same formulaic hero’s journey, which Joseph Campbell so easily recognized throughout history.  The story uses this to great advantage to create a sympathetic character that audiences can enjoy and cheer for, regardless of the main character’s crassness and vulgar nature.  The protagonist, in true Joseph Campbell fashion, begins his journey in “The Ordinary World” (step one).  He is a mercenary with double-edged characteristics of both virtue and vice.  The audience sees Wade Wilson doing a favor for someone by using his mercenary skills to deter a girl’s stalker.  So, even though the character tries to convince the viewer of his selfish nature the audience is shown a glimmer of integrity to give them a worthy candidate for their adoration.

The second step in Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey” is “The Call to Adventure”.  This is put into motion in Deadpool after Wade Wilson collapses and is diagnosed with cancer.  A recruiter approaches the character to a secret program that is billed as a “superhero program” that can cure Wade’s condition.  Wade initially refuses the treatment, which is Campbell’s step three: “Refusal of the Call”.  Sitting up with his fiancé still asleep in bed beside him, he decides to do what is best for her, and accept the super-hero path to salvation.

Deadpool is a non-linear movie, so Campbell’s fourth step is actually revealed much earlier in the film than in the actual timeline.  The audience is introduced to Colossus, who at first tries to force Deadpool into the role of hero, but Deadpool is single-mindedly intent on retribution.  It is not until Wade’s fiancé is kidnapped that Deadpool accepts help from his mentor and becomes the hero everyone knew he could be.

Through Wilson’s transformation from mortal to mutant, the viewer sees Campbell’s fifth step, “Crossing the Threshold” fulfilled.  Wade makes the decision to become a superhero for salvation, but it does not quite work out as planned.  During the transformation, the audience is introduced to the antagonist of the film Frances (aka Ajax) who reveals through the transformation that he is not becoming a super-hero at all, but rather a super slave.  Amid the metamorphosis, our hero becomes horribly disfigured, and Frances alludes to the fact that he could fix his disfigurement but will not.  Instead of submitting to becoming a slave, Wilson burns the building down but due to his restorative mutation, is able to survive the fire, and thus begins his journey of vengeance.

In the non-linear world of Deadpool, Campbell’s step six “Tests, Allies, and Enemies” is revealed very early on in the movie.  Before the audience even knows why Deadpool is trying to kill his adversary, he is thwarted in his efforts by the character who will eventually become his mentor.  This is also, where the viewer first learns the extent of Deadpool’s regenerative powers, which have made him immortal.

When Wade learns that his fiancé is in mortal danger, Campbell’s step seven the “Approach” unfolds.  Wade must face his fear of rejection from the only person on earth that he truly loves.  Unfortunately, he is more fearful of rejection and he fails to warn his beloved of the threat on her life before it is too late.  His cowardice allows his nemesis the time he needs to kidnap Vanessa putting her life at risk.

Through Wade’s transformation, Campbell’s eighth step, “the Ordeal”, is additionally presented.  The beginning of the movie is finally explained and the audience now understands why Deadpool is so intent upon revenge on Frances/Ajax.  Since the timeline of the movie is not in chronological order, neither are the steps of the “Hero’s Journey”. Wade escapes his prison by setting fire with a stolen match.  The two adversaries fight and Wade is impaled and literally trapped inside the building, Due to his mutative abilities he survives the fire and sets out.  Unfortunately, he realizes that he can never return to his fiancé because he has become a monster outside as well as inside, and he does not want to face Vanessa’s rejection.

Step Nine, “The Reward”, in this case proves to be a double-edged sword.  Wade is cured of cancer, in fact, he is cured of everything, but he has lost his true love.  Therefore, the reward is also, what pushes him towards payback and restitution.  Ironically, his desire for retaliation only sets in motion the events that will lead to his fiancé being kidnapped.

Step Ten “The road back”, occurs in Deadpool when his fiancé is kidnapped by Frances/Ajax, Deadpool, against all of his efforts to avoid it, must now become the hero that he is destined to be.  He finds himself forced to join forces with an annoying but powerful sidekick and the mentor he did not want.

Wade finally faces his fear of rejection, because ultimately his fear of losing the one most special to him is far greater.  This is where Campbell’s eleventh step “The Resurrection” takes place.  Wade knows that he must save Vanessa before Frances aka Ajax harms her.  In doing so, he finally faces his fear of rejection, and instead wins the heart of his true love who reveals that she still loves him regardless of what his current appearance is.  Wade learns through this ordeal that to be a hero he does not have to be heroic all the time, just “4 or 5 moments”.  Even though he kills his nemesis, the seed is planted for him to become a hero.

Finally, Step Twelve “Return with the Elixir”, comes to fruition when Wade gets the girl.  The movie is left open for additional movies and establishes his alliance with the X-Men, further continuing the Marvel franchise and the chance of another conglomerate movie.

The writers of Deadpool, like so many before them, have taken a proven formula and produced it for wide audience consumption.  While Deadpool may not be likeable to all moviegoers and is a movie that definitely has its opposition, he is still a hero that through Joseph Campbell’s Twelve Step Hero’s journey,   whom audiences can support and cheer.  The Hero’s Journey has a proven record of accomplishment of success and Deadpool, like so many movies and stories before it has cashed in with its ultimate success at the box-office.

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

BANCKS, T. (2003). “Beyond The Hero’s Journey.”. Australian Screen Education 33, pp. 32-34. Retrieved April 19, 2016

Romano, N. (2015, April 1). Why Superhero Movies Are Popular Right Now, According To Superhero Screenwriters. Cinema Blend. Retrieved April 19, 2016

 

 

 

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“Ford!” he said, “there’s an infinite number of monkeys outside who want to talk to us about this script for Hamlet they’ve worked out.”

The reason I picked this particular quote to represent my writing today, is because sometimes I feel like that monkey stuck in a room typing random characters that accidentally hammered out Hamlet.


In my film class we were asked to write a review, a critique and a theory regarding a new movie that was released during the same time frame as our class.  I have chosen to write about Deadpool because I didn’t see any other movies this semester.  This is my attempt at a Film Critique revolving around Deadpool.

Deadpool was released to theaters on February 12, 2016.  It is a comedy/action movie directed by Tim Miller and adapted for screen by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick from a comic book written by Fabian Nicieza and Rob Liefeld.  The film stars Ryan Reynolds as the protagonist, Morena Baccarin as his love interest, and Ed Skrein rounding out the film as the main antagonist.  This movie is definitely categorized as a blockbuster with a 58 million dollar budget and, so far, the film has grossed 355 million in the US alone.  Deadpool is the newest installation of the Marvel Comic brand, which has had strong roots in the past decade, reviving a franchise made popular through comic books in the 1960s.  While Deadpool has its roots in Marvel comics, it is definitely not its bright shining diamond (or in this case, it’s bright shining gold and red ruby (Iron Man)).  Deadpool if anything is the under-belly of Marvel Comics universe.  It is the dirty uncle that you try to keep from coming to family gatherings even though you want to hang out with and party with that same uncle on Friday nights.  Deadpool is irreverent, witty, extremely dirty, and cinematically a great movie to watch.

Based on Marvel Comic’s anti-hero, or “Merc with a mouth”, it tells the origin story of a former Special Forces operative turned mercenary Wade Wilson.  Wilson, in an attempt to cure his life threatening cancer, subjects himself to a forced mutation that leaves him horribly disfigured, but with extraordinary healing ability.  His mutation is similar to another Marvel comic’s anti-hero Wolverine mutative healing abilities, however the mutative cells also allow his cancer to regenerate, leaving him disfigured, which is why he dons the mask of Deadpool.

The movie Deadpool opens with the song “Angel in the Morning” playing with a slow-motion fight scene showing complete destruction with a montage of 360 shots and irreverent credits mixed in.  Instead of the normal credits, which most films present, the director Tim Miller used this exposition time to hint at what will come.  He uses these cheeky credits to represent not who the characters are, but what they represent.  Miller pokes fun at not only the characters, but also the writers, the actors and even himself.  For example, the opening montage presents the character exposition by crediting “Some Douchebag’s film”.  Miller introduces the star as “God’s Perfect Idiot”, at which time it cuts away to Ryan Reynold’s People magazine’s cover of the “sexiest man alive”.  The credits go on to describe each person in the film, “a hot chick”, “a British Villain”, “the Comic relief”, “a moody teen” and “A CGI Character”.  He introduces Stan Lee as “A Gratuitous Cameo” due to his appearances in every Marvel comic movie.  He continues to lampoon the producers, the writers and himself with comments like “Produced by asshats”, “written by the real heroes here” and “directed by an overpaid tool”.  The only groups that Tim Miller did not parody was Twentieth Century Fox and Marvel Comics, who he chose to name in traditional fashion.  Everyone else was fair game, including himself, showing that this movie is not concerned with ego.  In fact, it really is not concerned about anything.  The ending scene of the montage shows Deadpool giving some person a Junior High style wedgie, while in the midst of a car flipping through the air, a scene that clearly demonstrates Deadpool’s immortality.  These details combine to perfectly introduce the character of Deadpool to an audience who may or may not be familiar with the Deadpool of the comic book era.  In all, Tim Miller used the credit manipulation perfectly to introduce all the characters to the audience, and to give an idea of what the movie was going to be about which perfectly executes the exposition of the film.

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“Would it save you a lot of time if I just gave up and went mad now?”

In a recent writing class I read a very moving poem about addiction, which was quite poignant and touching.  I don’t regret my past, but I do have one – doesn’t everyone?  Things in our past that we’re not especially proud of?   So, I was thinking about her poem and I thought….hummm, I could write about my past, about the pain I felt growing up.  What I had forgotten when I started writing from my 14 year old self was that I had forgotten what it truly felt like.  Most of the time if I talk about my past, it’s almost as a detached observer, it’s like it didn’t even really happen to me for how much emotional connection I allow myself to feel to that past.

I was not a happy child, I didn’t have a happy childhood.  I came from a good family, but went through a period of horrible depression and self hatred that lasted for the majority of my teen through my early twenties.  This story wrenched my soul, reminding me of just how bad I was mentally before years of treatment and professional help.  It was a very dark place for me to visit and the experience has left me feeling raw and emotional.

 


When will the Screaming Subside – original song lyrics

When will the screaming subside

How much of myself do I have to hide

Can you not see the pain inside

 

I went to church, I went to school

I was such a good girl too

Can’t you see, I’m just like you

 

Can’t open my mouth too wide

or they’ll hear the screaming deep inside

and somehow know that it’s all been a lie

 

When will the screaming subside

How much longer do I have to hide

Why can’t you see the pain inside

 

How am I so different than you,

I bought the same clothes as you

How bout her, she’s different too

 

I kept my mouth closed when anyone came near

Forever hiding what I didn’t want them to hear

The madness in my head that won’t disappear

 

When will the screaming subside

I can’t continue to hide

Why doesn’t anyone see the pain inside

 

I’m not so different from you,

I have feelings just like you,

Don’t worry, I hate me too.

 

Is it the freckles or the color of my hair

That made you hate me so much more

Did you think I didn’t notice you point and stare

 

When will the screaming subside

When will I not have to hide

Nobody bothers to see the pain inside

 

For a second I let you glimpse my pain

I broke down and told you I had cut a vein

You didn’t care you told me to try again

 

I see you standing quietly over there,

You call to me, take me if you dare

Amber bottle of relief, please take me off somewhere

 

I can make the pain subside

I can stop the screaming deep inside

No-one cares about the pain I hold inside

 

 

“We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!”

During my Fine Arts Appreciation class we were asked to write a review, a critique and a theory about a movie that released during the time frame of our semester.  The only movie I had time to see this semester happened to be Deadpool, so this is my twisted review of said movie.  At least it’s not boring or typical.


Deadpool is a typical love story, with heartthrob Ryan Reynolds playing the part of the down and out protagonist Wade and Morena Baccarin playing the part of the love of his life Vanessa.  After being diagnosed with cancer, Wade tries to save Vanessa from the pain and suffering by leaving her to pursue a very aggressive form of chemotherapy.  Through the course of the aggressive chemotherapy the film’s antagonist Frances cures Wade’s terminal case of cancer, but leaves him horribly disfigured.  Fearing Vanessa’s rejection, Wade turns his frustration to vengeful pursuits of the man he holds responsible.  In an attempt to compel Wade to see reason, Frances kidnaps Vanessa necessitating a confrontation between himself and our beloved star Ryan Reynolds.  This forces him to see that his long lost love Vanessa still loves him, regardless of his horrible disfiguration and they live happily ever after.

Deadpool is a screen adaptation of the comic books of the same name written by co-authors Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza for Marvel Comics.  It was adapted for the screen by writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick.  The film was directed by Tim Miller, and released on February 12, 2016 just in time for Valentine’s Day big movie date night.  It is a story with action enough for the boys and a love story reminiscent of An Affair to Remember for all the true romantics, a story where love conquers all.  Instead of Cary Grant finding out that, Debra Kerr’s character cannot get up because she is disabled…Vanessa finds out that Wade didn’t come home because he was disfigured and scared of rejection…but they all still love each other in the end.

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