It’s winter in New York and by “winter” I mean we’re having single-digit weather today and it’ll be forty degrees and raining tomorrow. As the city collectively panics about never having actually bought those essential winter garments like scarves or sweaters, I think back to Friday, February 12th, when I walked outside with no jacket and brought a cold coffee beverage into a movie. The night before, I’d had too much to drink, and now I was about to watch Deadpool, the latest film entry in one of my least favorite genres: the 21st-century comic book movie.
I hate to be a killjoy but it’s been a major chore for me to sit through most DC or Marvel movies from the last five years. Whether it’s the bleak self-seriousness of those Superman or Batman flicks or the obvious and unfunny jokes in those endless Avengers adventures, it’s clear I’m not the audience for these movies. I need camp in any movie about a costumed character. If it’s not Michelle Pfeiffer licking her blood red lips in a catsuit, I probably can’t get down. From advertisements, it seemed like Deadpool might be more my speed, but I was concerned that the fourth-wall breaking and nonstop profane humor might grow tiresome quickly. Nevermind the fact that I have often felt that Ryan Reynolds’ career should have ended with Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place.
Before diving into something that easily could’ve made me miserable for two hours, I needed coffee to pep me up and distract me. I had forgotten my manageable travel mug, but had a glass water bottle at hand. When I walked into Box Kite on 72nd Street, I knew immediately what I should do: I decided to get an espresso tonic. Barista Cory Bogus kindly combined Fever Tree tonic water and a shot of Parlor Coffee‘s Stockist Blend in my glass water bottle, whose opening was too narrow to even fit ice. I then strolled a few blocks over to AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13, home of New York City’s only true IMAX theater. If I was going to suffer through a comic book movie, it would have to be as big and loud as possible.
Thankfully, I only had to suffer through the rest of my hangover. Deadpool, it turns out, is as subversive and hilarious as advertised. The foul-mouthed antihero’s origin story gleefully plays with a fractured timeline and perpetual self-awareness. The story of a mercenary whose cancer diagnosis leads to a brutal government experiment—of course, turning him into a powerful mutant with the ability to regenerate when wounded—could so easily make for another snoozy Marvel slog. But just when the film seems as though it may fall victim to boring comic tropes, the movie again and again zaps itself to life with thrills and laughs throughout. Chalk it up to a self-parodying tone that starts immediately with the opening credits, care of first-time director Tim Miller.
Perhaps Deadpool’s deftest feat is making a likable star out of leading man Ryan Reynolds, who is clearly the less hunky and charming of the Canadian Ryans. Reynolds has the wisecracking down as both the human Wade Wilson and the superhuman Deadpool, but he mostly succeeds by forming strong and believable relationships with his costars. His banter with deadpan best friend Weasel (TJ Miller) and his caring but stern roommate Blind Al (national treasure Leslie Uggams) had me, and much of the audience, given over to LOL. Even better is his relationship with girlfriend Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), a sex worker whose confidence and twisted sense of humor uplift Wade and torment him once he’s made the transition to the disfigured Deadpool. Their sex positive and dynamic union make for an unexpected pulse quickener, perhaps even more exciting than the film's (predictably) hyper-violent action sequences.
The strength of the character development got me through a third act that was plagued by both the necessity of tidily wrapping up the central conflict and the fact that I was really starting to get a headache. That espresso tonic was fulfilling all of my caffeine and quinine needs, tickling my tongue with all the florals and chocolate I could have wished for, but it definitely was not hydrating me. I screwed the cap on my bottle and brought it home.
As I sipped a few hours later whilst composing this review, the beverage—like the film—held its flavor. Then I remembered that Batman v. Superman comes out next month; someone order me a vodka tonic with a twist of dread.
“Deadpool” Cupping Score: 87
Flavor Notes: Cinnamon spice, grapefruit, and a lot of brown sugar (like the sexy D’Angelo kind).