UPDATE: After posting this piece, my HitFix colleague Roth Cornet and I decided to debate the merits of the trailer on video. You can watch the results above.
The ultra-violent “Deadpool” red-band trailer (embedded below) debuted to near-universal acclaim on Tuesday, accompanied by such glowing headlines as “The Deadpool Trailer Is Awesome and Totally NSFW,” “Ryan Reynolds Is Tough, Deadly, Hilarious in the New Deadpool Trailer,” and “The Deadpool Trailer Is Violent And Hysterical, Watch It Now”. I'm trying so hard to understand this.
In fairness, I'm not the biggest superhero movie fan. I appreciate the craft that goes into them and have even enjoyed a couple of the recent Marvel films (“Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” were both top-shelf blockbusters), but overall my geek loyalties lie elsewhere. And yet not being a superhero super-fan doesn't preclude me from having an opinion about them, and on the “Deadpool” front I must say: I don't know what any of you are talking about.
Here are four reasons why I'm not celebrating this trailer.
1. The jokes aren't funny.
A “less angry Rosie O'Donnell”? Where did this joke come from and what does it mean? Does Gina Carano look like Rosie O'Donnell? (She doesn't.) Does the surly, black-clad bruiser played by Carano really look “less angry” than Rosie O'Donnell, that fire-breathing holder of opinions? Was Rosie O'Donnell the name they decided to insert in the blank dialogue box labeled [“insert name of 'angry' woman celebrity here”]? Why not a “less angry Janeane Garofalo”? Did this come out of a game of Mad Libs? (See also: the Posh Spice joke immediately preceding this.)
2. It glorifies brutal violence in uncomfortable ways.
I assume we're supposed to laugh when the wisecracking super-assassin kills three men with a single bullet and then makes a joke about masturbating, but to me the moment feels like a distressing byproduct of our culture's pornographic obsession with violence. I get that Deadpool is supposed to be an unconventional, slightly devilish anti-hero, but there's a big difference between depicting unsavory behavior and condoning it. This trailer condones it, and worse, makes the queasy intersection of gory violence and sexual fulfillment into a punchline.
3. Deadpool's shtick feels like it may work better in small doses.
Do we really have to spend an entire movie with this character? I'm only asking because by the end of the trailer, his “wink-wink, smirk-smirk” brand of comedy was already grating on my nerves. Reminder: the trailer is only two-and-a-half minutes long.
4. The girlfriend/wife/fiancee subplot feels awkwardly paired with the trailer's savagely violent, jokey latter half.
An earnest love story and a brutally cynical exercise in irony and ultra-violence all in one movie? I suppose they pulled this off with “True Romance,” but it's a tricky balance and an even more difficult one to strike without a rapier wit like Quentin Tarantino involved. I can't help but feel like the former element is merely there to pull in woman viewers, but it feels shoehorned into a trailer that, at its core, has clearly been designed for splatter-loving fanboys (and girls).
Now it's your turn. What did you think of the trailer?