Deadpool – ALTs and innovative flirting

I love myself a bit of X-Men. I work on Neighbours, and love it sick, but am still prepared to call the X-Men the world’s greatest soap opera. I started reading the comics from the very beginning a few years ago. I’m up to 1990. Only some people will understand that that’s a massive achievement. If I get through the madness of the 90’s it will be an even bigger achievement. Props to those who appreciate that reference.

I have my issues with the film series. It has, at times, annoyingly deviated so far from the source material that it may as well be a completely different franchise. The latest main series film, X-Men: Apocalypse, struggled under the weight of having to service so many characters. Don’t even get me started on the complete lack of narrative space in the film which resulted in a flashback being used to change Magneto’s motivations during the climax. Gross.

Deadpool? That’s a good film. Me like-y. As is this year’s most recent entry – Logan. There’s something to be said for the films which have had more focus on one or a select few characters (X2 and X-Men: First Class are also my faves). You can find the Deadpool script here.

There were a couple things I came across while reading the script that caught my attention. The first: ALTs! What is an ALT you ask? Well, I had never seen one before, and if you are in the same position as pre-Deadpool-script-reading-me then here is an example:

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What a novel idea! Got to put in a gag but can’t decide which from all those hilarious zingers you’ve dreamt up in your head? Put in a few alternatives! When working in comedy, this seems like a perfectly acceptable approach – it creates a bit of breathing room for improvisation and whatever works best for the actor. And, you have multiple options to test on audiences.

Of course, one could use ALTs when writing a script for yourself, but perhaps not if you are planning to show others as a keen demonstrator of your skill. Unless the script is definitely going into production, ALTs will probably only demonstrate your inability as a writer to make a decision…? So perhaps they are best reserved for production.

But PS – as if ‘in a word, gorgeous’ compares to any of the other options…

The other thing I loved about this script is the first interaction between Wade and Vanessa. It’s nice to have one of those moments when you read something that makes you sit up and take notice. That makes you reflect on your own writing. That challenges you to go – hell yes, I can always be better. Because when you have your two love interests first meet, it is so easy to fall into doing flirting as super generalised, super cliched, coy banter. Deadpool isn’t the most complex film. It’s simple. But it’s moments like this which turn tropes on their head that helps the film shine. I love how their flirting is done here, the two have only just met and we get:

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I’m all about the inappropriate sarcastic vibes, and their relationship is built around it here. The game to outdo each other with stories of childhood trauma communicates both the flippant surface of their relationship, but also the in tune emotional depth of it, right from the outset.

And it ends up becoming a great device, used at the end of the film as a bookend; Vanessa’s subtextual way of telling Wade that she’s still not done with him yet, she’ll give him a second chance – even after he’s allowed her to grieve and led her to believe he’s dead.

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It’s her saying ‘I’m pissed off, but I still like you.’ It works beautifully, especially when they get into the rhythm of it for the second time, as the conversation gradually becomes more warm and the pair more confident with each other despite the jarring nature of what they are literally saying to one another.

But there’s also an indication in the script here of the gap between this and the final film. And how you can find that in any script. When Vanessa says ‘so you live in a house’, it’s such a… thing in the film. A poignant, silent beat of forgiveness. This massive emotional moment that signifies everything is going to be okay between them. But in the script this turn isn’t referenced. It’s not there. Hard to tell where along the line this moment got created, but it was a hell of a development. And demonstrative of how when you’ve got good actors, they can build depth around (practically?) anything they get given.

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