After last week’s look at works that adapt characters instead of stories, it’s a good time to examine such a work. Today, Deadpool.
The character Deadpool was created in 1990, with his first appearance in New Mutants #98, written by Rob Liefield and Fabien Nicieza. Deadpool’s main ability is much like Wolverine’s, a heightened healing factor, though with the Merc with the Mouth, it’s offset by cancer. The two characters are linked through the Weapon X project, the one that gave Wolverine his adamantium skeleton and Deadpool his accelerated healing. This combination has seriously unhinged Deadpool to the point where he thinks he’s a comic book character. His appearances are marked by his ability to break the fourth wall and talk to the readers directly. In his video game appearances, he has cheered on the player.
Deadpool’s first cinematic appearance was in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The problem there, though, was that his mouth was sewn shut, so he couldn’t speak. He was also decapitated in the movie, though a post-credit sequence shows him picking up his head and telling the audience to “Shh.” Ryan Reynolds, who plays the Merc with the Mouth, admitted that it was wrong, so was eager to play him again, this time properly. Thus, the Deadpool movie released shortly before Valentine’s Day, 2016..
Deadpool set out to correct the problems with the character in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Where the character had his mouth sewn shut previously, this time around, he talks non-stop, to the point of providing narration even into the post-credit sequence. The core plot hinges around Wade Wilson, Mr. Pool himself, trying to get the experiment that turned his Ryan Reynolds good looks into something that repulses people reversed. The man responsible, Francis, credited as Ajax*, played by Ed Skrein, provided the a treatment that halted the spread of cancer through Wilson’s body, but didn’t remove it.
However, the core plot isn’t the only part of the story. There’s a romance as well, with Wade getting engaged to Vanessa, played by Morena Baccarin. Vanessa is the reason why Wade went into the Weapon X program – he didn’t want to leave her mourning him. This connection, though, puts Vanessa in danger near the end of the movie.
The movie is a superhero comedy that, instead of taking refuge in audacity, revels in it. Deadpool is also one of the most comic book movies made, alongside Scott Pilgrim vs the World. The film opens with the cinematic version of a two-page splash page. The credits that appear wouldn’t be out of place in one of Marvel’s lighter titles, like What The–?!, credits like “A Moody Teenager” – Negasonic Teenage Warhead played by Brianna Hildebrand, “A CGI Character” – Colossus voiced by Stefan Kapicic, and “A British Villain” – Francis. Deadpool himself narrates the story, stopping the action several times to address the audience directly. Not only does he break the fourth wall, at one point, he does so while breaking the fourth wall during a flashback.
Deadpool is an origins movie, though the character’s background isn’t as well known as Superman’s or Spider-Man’s. The movie retells Deadpool’s background. However, remember that cinematic superhero universes are a thing. The movie isn’t accurate, but given it’s Wade narrating it and he believes he’s a comic book and, for the film, a superhero movie character, variances are allowed. Deadpool is structured much like a comic book. The opening shot, as mentioned above, acts as the two-page splash. Flashbacks fill in details. Narration adds extra information. The opening splash is revisited several times, once in the regular narrative flow, and at least once with a flashback.
The writers, Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, pulled together the information on Deadpool’s origins and focused on his personality. Deadpool is more about the character than getting details of his history correct and presents Wade as the unhinged mutant seen in the comics. Any problems from X-Men Origins: Wolverine were erased, even called out and ridiculed by Wade himself. To emphasize that he believes he’s a character in a movie, Deadpool often comments on the film. A scene at the X-Men’s mansion has him commenting that, “It’s a big house. It’s funny that I only ever see two of you [Colossus and Negasonic]. It’s almost like the studio couldn’t afford another X-Man.”
The main potential point of failure was not getting Deadpool translated over to film. The movie managed to take the character concept and bring it from the pages to the silver screen while still keeping the core that made Deadpool popular.
* The name Ajax is used once. Even the DVD subtitles refer to him as Francis.
Marvel Comics had several big announcements since the last news round up. Let’s get to what’s being adapted and by whom.
Marvel and Sony come to a deal over Spider-Man.
Spider-Man is moving into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, joining the likes of the Avengers. Sony Pictures still has the rights to create movies with the character, but the deal should allow Marvel to use elements from the Spider-Man comics such as the Daily Bugle in its own releases. Marvel has shuffled its release schedule to bring the next Spider-Man movie out without competing with the Marvel Studios releases.
X-Men TV series in the works.
Fox has confirmed an X-Men TV series is in development, pending Marvel’s approval. Little of what the series would entail has been revealed.
Casting for AKA Jessica Jones announced.
David Tennant joins the cast as the villainous Zebediah Killgrave, also known as the Purple Man. Tennant joins Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones and Mike Colter as Luke Cage.
Who you gonna call?
Meet the new Ghostbusters for the gender-flipped remake. Melissa McCarthy has signed on while negotiations with Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon are ongoing.
Fushigi Yuugi gets stage treatment.
The manga and anime, Fushigi Yuugi is making the transition over to the stage. Fushigi Yuugi, which translates as Mysterious Play, follows the adventures of Miaka as she falls into another world filled with magic and danger.
Indiana Jones reboot may be in works.
Disney bought the rights to the Indiana Jones franchise and are looking at Chris Pratt as the eponymous hero. Pratt is going to be busy…
Chris Pratt in talks for The Magnificent Seven remake.
The remake of The Seven Samurai is being remade. Denzel Washington has already signed on for the remake.
Harper Lee releasing a follow up to To Kill a Mockingbird.
The sequel, Go Set a Watchman, features Scout Finch as an adult. The novel had been written during the 1950s, but was set aside on the advise of Lee’s editor at the time. The new novel will hit bookstores mid-July.
LEGO announces next licensed set, featuring Doctor Who.
Everything is more awesome in LEGOland as the Doctor and his companions join the massive LEGO line up. The project just left the judging phase, so it may take some time before the LEGO TARDIS hits the shelves. Also announced, a LEGO Wall-E set, with the submission made by one of the movie’s crew members.
Stargate reboot movie signs writers.
Roland Emmerich’s reboot/remake of the original Stargate movie has signed Nicholas Wright and James A. Woods as screenwriters. Emmerich will direct and co-produce, along with original co-writer Dean Devlin.
The Man from UNCLE trailer now out.
The first look at Guy Ritchie’s take on the TV series, The Man from UNCLE, is now out. The movie stars Henry Cavill as Napoleon Solo, originally played by Robert Vaughn and should be out in August. Armie Hammer is on board as Illya Kuryakin, previously played by David McCallum.
A slow round up this time around, but it covers two major reboots/continuations.
More on the Twin Peaks revival.
The return of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks on Showcase is looking more and more like a continuation of the original series. Kyle MacLachlan is returning as Agent Dale Cooper. Sheryl Lee and Dana Ashbrook are returning, the former portrayed both Laura Palmer and Maddy Ferguson, the latter played Bobby Briggs. With any other creator, I’d just say that the series was coming back. With David Lynch, I’m expecting loose ends from the original series that were well hidden to be brought back out.
X-Files gets a reboot.
Fox has confirmed that the X-Files will be rebooted. David Duchovny (Agent Fox Mulder) is interested, provided that Gillian Anderson (Agent Dana Scully) is also on board, but in a limited form. Anderson is also interested, provided that Duchovny and series creator Chris Carter are involved. Fox wants Carter involved. The main snag is finding when all three are available at the same time. Anderson and Duchovny are both working on other shows at the moment.
X-Men: Apocalypse casting announced.
Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, and Alexander Shipp have been announced for the cast of the next X-Men movie. Turner, who plays Sansa Stark on A Game of Thrones, will play Jean Grey. Shipp will portray Storm and Sheridan will play Cyclops.
Unexpected fan favourites can appear just about anywhere. Marvel Comics has several, characters that, for various reasons, just resonated with readers. With some, such as Squirrel Girl, it’s the innate humour that draws in fans. For others, it’s the rebel of the group. In the various X-Men titles, that was Wolverine.
Wolverine first appeared in the final panel of The Incredible Hulk #180, with the story continuing the next issue. Conceived as a mutant agent of a Canadian intelligence agency, Wolverine reappeared in the first issue of Giant-Size X-Men, the soon afterwards in X-Men #94. His popularity grew, exploding in the 80s as the anti-hero movement began. This popularity led to a four-issue mini-series, Wolverine, helmed by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller. With Wolverine’s in-universe longevity, thanks to his mutant healing factor, writers could look at various parts of his past, adding depth to the character. Popularity with fans led to Logan to several mini-series, cross-overs, becoming the anchor in the weekly Marvel Comics Presents, his own ongoing series, joining the Avengers, and the lead of a cartoon. He has joined Spider-Man as a means of letting readers know a title is part of the Marvel Universe just by appearing in a new character’s comic. Wolverine has been a Canadian secret agent, a teacher, an X-Man, a crime lord, a ronin, a soldier, an Avenger.
The Wolverine, released in 2013 by Twentieth Century Fox, takes a look at a moment in Logan’s long life, with Hugh Jackman returning as the title character. The movie opens at a prisoner-of-war camp in Japan in 1945, across the bay from Nagasaki. Logan is the first to hear the approaching B-29 bomber, but a Japanese officer also hears it and frees the prisoners to prevent their deaths in the coming bombing run. As the prisoners run for their lives, the officer remembers the one in the hole, Logan, and frees him as well. Logan, though, recognizes what is about to happen. There is only one bomber. However, instead of also running, the officer joins his superiors as they commit seppuku. Logan prevents the lethal stabbing, and both watch as the second atomic bomb ever explodes. Hauling the officer along, Logan returns to his cell in the hole, where he protects the officer from the fireball with his own body.
Logan then wakes up from the dream within a dream. As he shakes off the nightmare, he realizes that he’s in the Yukon, where he went after the X-Men movies.* He spends a typical day, a trip into town for supplies followed by work in the woods. He ignores the boisterousness of a group of hunters, not wanting to get involved or be noticed. That night, though, he hears their screams. When he investigates, he finds their camp torn apart and a bear in the throes of agony from an arrow. Logan puts the poor beast out of its misery and heads to town. He easily finds the hunters, including the one survivor of the bear’s rampage and starts asking questions, wanting to find the owner of the poisoned arrow he pulled from the bear’s body. Before an all-out brawl can start, a tiny Japanese woman introduces herself and her katana. The hunters don’t take her seriously, but she demonstrates finesse with the weapon, killing no one while making precise cuts that show that it was her decision to keep them alive. As she leaves, she invites Logan to follow her to her car.
The young woman introduces herself as Yukio, representing Yashida, the dying CEO of Yashida Industries, who has requested Logan, the Wolverine, to talk to him before he passes away. Yukio, herself a mutant who can see how people will die, manages to persuade Logan into going to Tokyo, though just for one day. As for the hunters, Yukio sees them dying in a week in a car crash.
In Tokyo, Logan is reunited with the Japanese officer he saved, Yashida himself, who is in the final stages of cancer. Yashida asks his doctor, Dr. Green, and his family, son Shingen and granddaughter Mariko, time alone to talk with Logan. With everyone out, Yashida makes an offer to Logan, the end of Wolverine’s long suffering, the removal of his powers and transferring them to the dying man. Logan refuses. Later that night, Yashida passes away. That same night, Jean Grey returns again in Logan’s dreams, only to turn into Dr. Green.
Yashida’s funeral the next day is somber and formal. Logan, though, senses something is off just before the Yakuza gangsters reveal themselves. One gangster produces a shotgun from underneath his monk robes and shoots Logan. While shooting the Wolverine is never a good idea, this time, Logan is staggered. The wounds don’t close as rapidly as they should. Logan doesn’t let the wounds slow him down as he demonstrates that he is the best at what he does. Still, he is slowed down by gunshot wounds, far more than he should be.
The gangsters’ target is Mariko; they attempt to kidnap her, but are stopped by not only Logan, but by Harada, who is making accurate bow shots from rooftops over a kilometre away. Logan is the only one to spot him, but since Harada is assisting Mariko, does nothing to stop the archer. Instead, he grabs Mariko to take her away from the fighting and the gangsters. The pair work their way through Tokyo, running from the Yakuza, until they reach the train station. Mariko loses Logan in the crowd at the station and boards a bullet train to Nagasaki. As she starts to relax, Logan falls into a seat across the aisle from her.
Logan’s tenaciousness is rewarded. Several gangsters have also boarded the train. Logan spots them and tries to deal with them. Adamantium claws are not the best weapon in an enclosed space, especially if trying to keep the space enclosed; Logan rips through the outer wall of the train car. At first, it works to his advantage, letting him toss out a couple of gangsters, but he, too, is soon dragged out of the bullet train. The fight winds up on the top of the train, still travelling at 300km/h** and ends when Logan bluffs the last gangster into jumping at the wrong time.
The pair leave the train at the next stop, long before reaching Nagasaki. Stopping at a love hotel, Logan gets patched up by a veterinary student after collapsing. His healing factor is completely shut down, yet he insists on protecting Mariko through to Nagasaki and beyond. They take a bus to the reborn city, where Mariko’s grandfather had built a sanctuary for the family. Logan recognizes the view. He looks for and finds the cell he was in when the atomic bomb exploded.
During the time at the sanctuary, Logan and Mariko fall in love. Yukio, still in Tokyo, has a vision of Logan dying, and heads to the haven to warn him. The Yakuza catch up and kidnap Mariko, taking her away before Logan can stop them. After some interrogation of the sole gangster stopped by Logan and some investigation, Logan and Yukio return to the Yashida residence, where they do not find any security. Eariler, Harada and his ninja had arrived to rescue Mariko from her father. Dr. Green also appears and poisons Shingen, leaving with Harada. Logan, not finding anyone, heads to Yashida’s hospital bed and uses the X-ray machine there to find out why his healing factor isn’t working. The X-ray reveals a device attached to his heart. Yukio reminds Logan of the vision she had: him, on his back, his heart in his hand. Logan, however, performs his own open heart surgery.
Shingen, left for dead by Dr. Green, appears. Yukio fights him off as Logan tries to remove the device. The Wolverine does, indeed, die on the table, but instead of his heart in his hand, he has the device that had blocked his healing factor. Yukio keeps Shingen away from Logan, the fight a standstill. Despite the flatline beep, though, Logan’s body repairs itself. Shingen manages to get the upper hand in the sword fight, but before he can kill Yukio, Logan stops him. The fight’s tenor changes. Logan is no longer hampered by his lack of power. Cuts that would kill another man just get him angry. Shingen’s best attack, one that, if The Wolverine was an anime series, would leave Logan cut in twain, does little to stop him. Logan leaves Shingen alive, reminding him that he tried to kill his own daughter.
Yukio and Logan work out where Mariko is taken. Logan heads out to Yashida’s birthplace and enters the family compound. Harada confronts him, and tries to point out that getting further is a death sentence, not realizing that Logan has solved that little problem. Ninja move in to attack and are cut down. Harada, realizing that there’s nothing gained by throwing more ninja at Wolverine other than giving Logan practice, orders his men to use bows insteads. The archer poisons his own broadhead arrows, and, after many arrows, all with cables attached, Logan is brought down.
Inside, when he awakens, Logan finds out what has been happening. The family’s Silver Samurai, protector for many generations, has been modified. The pilot needs Logan’s healing factor. Logan, however, refuses to go down without a fight.
A lot happened in the movie, to say the least. Before I analyze The Wolverine, I want to make reference to Adaptations and the Superheroic Setting, which discussed the creation of using a different universe in different media. The short version of it: Comic books tend to have a lot of continuity behind them. With the Wolverine, there is forty years worth of stories since his first appearance in 1974. While fans of the character are aware of the backstory, not everyone in the audience is. Setting the X-Men movies as their own cinematic universe allows the film makers room to tell the story they want without spending half the running time explaining everything that has happened prior. Adding to the complexity, The Wolverine also has to fit in with the previous movies; X-Men: First Class was, essentially, a prequel to X-Men, not a reboot. It’s an interesting position to be in, where interesting is akin to the “Chinese curse“.
The film makers, in the DVD extra***, mentioned that they used the Claremont-Miller mini-series as a starting point, using the dichotomy in Logan’s nature to be both soldier and loner. Mariko has appeared not only in the mini-series but also in the regular X-Men title and is, for the most part, portrayed the same. Logan’s visions of Jean flow from the events in X2, though it’s possible that the film makers could be angling towards the Dark Phoenix Saga or that what Logan remembers is not necessarily how things are, thanks to Days of Future Past. Time travel really messes up continuity. The Wolverine focuses on Logan as Logan, not his superhero identity. This focus has appeared in the comics, including his time as the anchor for Marvel Comics Presents and his own mini-series.
Balancing the different aspects and origins (film and comic) of the character is a fine line, but the movie manages to walk it. Anyone familiar with Logan from either just the comic or just the movies will have no issue with Jackman’s portrayal. There are liberties taken; in the comics, Harada is the Silver Samurai and a mutant himself. The changes, though, don’t take away from Logan, nor do they substantially change the events. While The Wolverine follows the movies more than the comic, the essence of Logan is caught and portrayed well.
Next week, a second look at Mr. Peabody & Sherman.
* The X-Men movie timeline gets a bit convoluted. X-Men: Days of Future Past ignores X-Men 3 completely. The Wolverine seems to do the same thing, but there are elements, such as the Jean Grey dreams, that hint at something else, like a timeline that is about to change.
** Speed limit in Ontario is 100km/h, or a bit over 60mph.
*** DVD extras are a boon to these reviews. Sometimes, a bit of insight into the process of making the movie helps figure out why some decisions were made.
A change of plans this week. I’ve been holding on to some items too long and I realized that I hadn’t had a round up last month. On with the show!
A Game of Thrones, the Movie
With the TV series catching up to George R.R. Martin’s writing, something needs to be done. One potential fix, feature-length movies. The movies would be prequels, set 90 years prior to the start of the books. This should give Martin the time to finish or at least pad out the series long enough to prevent the TV series from overtaking.
Jem and the Holograms to get film treatment.
Truly outrageous! The movie has a webpage set up where fans can make suggestions on plot and casting and submit audition video. However, Christy Marx, the creator of the original series, is not involved. How this will affect the movie remains to be seen.
No more Inspector Morse adaptations?
Creator Colin Dexter has added a clause in his will that will prevent other actors from playing Inspector Morse. He feels that the performances of both John Thaw and Shaun Evans cannot be surpassed. The clause can be challenged, but it is likely that Dexter’s estate will agree with him.
Left Behind movie series to be rebooted.
Nicholas Cage will star in the remake of the adaptation of the first of the Left Behind books. Release date has been announced for October 3. The first adaptation was by Kirk Cameron in 2000, with the sequels released direct-to-video.
Fox to spin-off a Mystique movie while Sony does the same with the Sinister Six.
While Marvel Studios is busy with the Avengers, the licensees aren’t content to be left in the dust. Fox has plans for a Mystique movie to go along with the Wolverine series. Over at Sony, the Sinister Six, Spider-foes each and every one of them, has signed on director Drew Goddard. The movies mean that Marvel will have more characters on screen than rival DC Comics, despite the latter’s owner, Warner, having not licensed any character to another studio.
New Sailor Moon series to debut July, broadcast includes Internet streaming.
The Pretty Soldier-Sailor is returning and can be seen through Niconico Douga, a video streaming site similar to YouTube. An account will be needed to watch but the new Sailor Moon will be available internationally. The build up has been kept low, with very little hype to create expectations.
Cracked.com lists the five adaptations that are overdone.
Beyond just naming, Cracked looks at why the movies don’t work well. The key appears to be the creativity ends with the original idea and doesn’t continue through the actual production.
Mrs. Doubtfire sequel being written.
Chris Columbus, the director of the original, has been signed, as has Mrs. Doubtfire himself, Robin Williams. The original movie hit theatres in 1993, and a sequel was attempted in 2001 but never got past pre-production. Given the age of the original movie, it may be Williams’ name that proves to be the draw.
Princess Jellyfish to get live-action adaptation.
The manga Princess Jellyfish, aka Kuragame Hime, will be getting the live-action treatement. The official site is now up. Release date is December, 2014.