Deadpool | 2016
Marvel Comics took quite a risk with the origins story for ‘the Merc with the Mouth’, its least conventional anti-hero, but pulls it off with style, and Ryan Reynolds fits the part like a glove.
Although taking place in a nameless setting, there’s no great effort to disguise the look of Vancouver, British Columbia.
A short prologue sets up Deadpool's nemesis first. Ajax, aka Francis, (Ed Skrein) establishes his alpha male status to a dodgy arms buyer (Michael Benyaer). The airfield meeting is at Boundary Bay Regional Airport, 7750 Montreal Street, Delta, BC V4K 0A7, about ten miles southeast of Downtown Vancouver near the US border.
The film proper opens with, and regularly returns to, the freeway where Deadpool intends to wreak long-awaited revenge on Ajax. It’s the Georgia Viaduct, a twin overpass linking Downtown Vancouver with the district of Strathcona.
There’s not really a complex knot of interchanges – that’s all CGI – and the names on the freeway signs (‘Fort McGuinnesss’, ‘Wernick Parkway’, ‘Ditko Avenue’ and the like) are, as any Marvel fan will tell you, nods to creators of the comics and films.
In reality, it’s simply the stretch of overpass between Rogers Arena and Quebec Street, just north of the eastern end of False Creek.
Only in flashback do we get Deadpool’s backstory, with former Special Forces operative Wade Wilson working as a “bad guy paid to fuck up worse guys” – which involves little more than discouraging a pimply pizza delivery boy from harassing local girl Megan.
The hangout where he informs Megan that she’s heard the last of her stalker is Leeside Tunnel Skatepark, 215 East Hastings Street, beneath the intersection of East Hastings Street and Highway 1 in the Hastings-Sunrise district a few miles east of Downtown.
The day’s work over, Wade retires to ‘Sister Margaret’s School for Wayward Girls’, the bar presided over by Weasel (TJ Miller) and where Wade is later prompted to come up with the inspired name ‘Captain Deadpool’. It’s a set of course.
Striking up a Pythonesque conversation with the equally unconventional exotic dancer Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), he discovers that his meagre earnings entitle him to a mere “48 minutes on the clock”.
Naturally he chooses to take Vanessa to play skee-ball and the pair head off to The Zone Bowling Centre, 14200 Entertainment Boulevard #150, South Richmond, south of Vancouver BC V6W 1A8.
With a happily crazy start like that, how can the pair not move in together? A year soon passes with a sexily amped up version of the seasons montage in Notting Hill.
This unorthodox idyll only comes to an end when Wade is diagnosed with late-stage cancer – one of the film’s audacious mood swings.
Faced with his own mortality, Wade reluctantly takes up a dubious offer from a creepy Recruiter (Jed Rees) who offers not only to cure his cancer but vastly to increase his physical capabilities.
The unwholesome dank corridors through which he’s wheeled on a gurney are Crease Clinic at Riverview Hospital, 2601 Lougheed Highway, Coquitlam, several miles east of the city.
What could possibly go wrong? Well, since this shuttered and much-used location was previously seen onscreen as the ‘Sunnyvale Institution’ in The Butterfly Effect and the ‘Stonybrook Institution’ in Final Destination 2, the answer is ‘rather a lot’.
The clinic itself in which extreme discomfort is used to activate any “mutant genes” in Wade’s system, was the Terminal City Iron Works, which serves double duty later on.
The block-long site, which stood at the northeast corner of Victoria Drive and Franklin Street in east Vancouver, was home to a foundry producing fire hydrants and manhole covers. When the company moved to a different site in 2001, the complex of buildings established itself as an adaptable film location, going on to host around 700 film and TV shoots before Deadpool, which turned out to be the last production to shoot here. The whole site was subsequently razed.
The tough treatment segues into gratuitous torture by the sadistic Ajax and, although Wade does indeed become invincible, there’s a price to pay. The film displays an uncomfortable attitude to facial disfigurement, but in terms of plot, this is crucial to Wade’s quest for vengeance. Discovering his fate is to be a superslave rather than a superhero, he makes his escape from the clinic.
Acutely conscious of his appearance and unable to face Vanessa, Wade watches her mutely from the doorway of Oyster Express, 296 Keefer Street at Gore Avenue in Chinatown, east of Downtown, following her as she browses the Chinese markets back to her apartment at 529 Gore Avenue.
He’s able to take out his frustration with the – um – enthusiastic interrogation of Ajax’s minions, which leaves him in dire need of a launderette. “Seltzer water and lemon for blood – or just wear red.” is the eminently sensible advice from Blind Al (Leslie Uggams) at the Coin Laundry, 2683 East Hastings Street, Vancouver.
Another good fit. The supremely cynical Wade is soon sharing digs with the sublimely grumpy Al. Their apartment exterior is on the alley running between Gore and Dunlevy Avenues, south of Powell Street, Downtown Eastside (the interior was filmed back in the old Terminal City Iron Works, which you'll remember was previously Ajax's grubby clinic).
Deadpool maybe has a little too much fun disposing of Ajax’s henchmen.
The ice-rink where he bears down on a bloody underling with the exquisite slowness of an ice-resurfacing Zamboni is the PNE Agrodome, 2901 East Hastings Street.
This much-used venue previously saw service on-screen as the ‘Soviet’ arena in the climactic fight between Rocky Balboa and Ivan Drago in Rocky IV, the ‘Olympic Center’ in Lake Placid and in Slap Shot 2, as well appearing in loads of Vancouver-based TV shows such as MacGyver, Booker and Highlander.
Wade eventually confronts The Recruiter himself in the warehouse of Rice World, 126 Gore Avenue. Outside, on Gore Avenue between Powell and East Cordova Streets, Deadpool’s enhanced questioning prompts a tasteful “Look away for this!”.
Oblivious to pain he may be, but Ajax still needs to be stitched up after getting spiked by Deadpool on the freeway, roaring back on a Ducati to his hideout while Deadpool is briefly distracted. His HQ is another iron works building-turned-studio space – Burrard Ironworks, 235 Alexander Street, little more than a block north of Wade’s apartment. Ajax sensibly uses the less ostentatious rear entrance on the alleyway running west from Gore Avenue. The same complex became a bar for 2015’s Fifty Shades Of Grey.
Weasel alerts Wade that Ajax has figured out that Vanessa is his vulnerability and the pair race off to the strip-club where she works.
The exterior of the club is the Cobalt Hotel, 917 Main Street, but the interior – where Stan Lee puts in his cameo as a lubricious MC – is the real home of ‘erotic entertainment’, No.5 Orange, 205 Main Street.
Even as Wade and Weasel are searching for her, Vanessa is lured into the alley behind the club, from where she’s abducted.
Far from being behind the club, this alleyway is away to the west, alongside The Pint pub on Abbott Street, south of Hastings Street.
With Vanessa captive, Ajax now invites Deadpool for a final showdown. Needing a little backup from X-Folk Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), Deadpool is obliged to go knocking on the door of the oddly deserted ‘Xavier’s School’. The film revisits Hatley Castle, Royal Roads University, Colwood, used as the school in the previous X-Men 2, X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men: Days Of Future Past films.
The site of the epic battle, a ginormous scrapyard housing a vast decommissioned helicarrier is the industrial space on the east bank of the Fraser River in Surrey, off the South Fraser Perimeter Road (SFPR). North of the elevated entrance to the Pattullo Bridge, which you can clearly see in the background, the pyrotechnics provide plenty of entertainment for carbound commuters.