HE’S THE ANTI-HERO WE DESERVE AND THE ONE WE NEED – 8.5/10.
There are two schools of thought when it comes to Deadpool, Marvel’s oddball, self-aware, merc with a mouth; 1) he is hilarious and awesome and if you don’t like him then you suck, and 2) he is the tedious poster child for a moronic meme-loving, tweet-happy generation. As a long-time fan of the character, I personally consider him to be a satisfying mixture of both. Deadpool is an in-joke that you either get or you don’t, and this is also the case for his self-titled, big screen adventure. The marketing for Deadpool has been phenomenal, and while it will help to bring a new audience for the character this is ultimately a film made by the fans for the fans. So if you like Deadpool you are in for a treat and if you don’t like Deadpool then… well, you get the gist.
The film takes the form of your standard origin story, much like X-Men Origins: Wolverine… I joke, I joke! Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is an ex-military, mercenary for hire and all round smart arse who discovers his twisted soul mate in a beautiful prostitute named Vanessa (Morena Baccarin). Their romance is cut short when Wade is diagnosed with cancer of the, well, pretty much everything. With nothing left to lose, he volunteers for an experimental procedure that could potentially cure him. Of course, nothing is ever as it seems and Wade ends up being the Guinee pig for a psychotic mutant named Ajax (Ed Skrein), in a nightmarish genetics programme that is never called Weapon X but is pretty much, definitely Weapon X.
The torturous procedure unlocks Wade’s mutant healing factor but it also leaves him horribly disfigured and with a thirst for revenge. Scared to reveal his new face to Vanessa, our sort-of-but-not-really hero dons the red suit, renames himself Deadpool and leaves behind a trail of mutilated corpses on his path to Ajax, much to the annoyance of the X-Men. Representing Professor Xavier’s band of heroes is the metal titan, Colossus (A big old hunk of CGI) and his young padwan apprentice, Negasonic Teenage War Head (Brianna Hilderbrand). The X-Men want Deadpool to stop killing people, Deadpool wants Ajax to make him look less like Freddy Kruger’s scrotum so he can get back with Vanessa, and Ajax wants Deadpool to stop poking him with sharp objects… presumably.
Deadpool works best as a character when he is utilised within the framework of a solid narrative, without that he is reduced to the comic book equivalent of an episode of Jackass, which can get old very quickly. Luckily this film is driven by a simple but effective plot; boy meets girl > boy loses girl > boy becomes invincible death machine > cue lots of murder and dick jokes. It’s enough to keep proceedings moving along nicely while allowing Wade to be the Deadpool we know and love, and this is the Deadpool we know and love. He breaks the 4th wall, makes jokes about Marvel’s films and comics, and achieves impossible cartoon style kills. Comic stalwarts Bob and Blind Al even get to make brief, scene stealing appearances although Deadpool’s inner voices are sadly absent.
There is so much about this film that just works, it is filled with knowing in-jokes and references and the tone is spot on, with every one liner and comedy bit landing perfectly. The action scenes are entertainingly ridiculous and satisfyingly violent, plus there has never been a better representation of a comic book costume on screen (superheroes have white eyes thank you very much). But without doubt it is Ryan Reynolds’ performance that serves as the very heart of the film. Reynolds is Deadpool, this has been his passion project for over a decade and it is easy to see just how comfortable he is in Wade’s scarred skin. Deadpool truly heals the wounds of X-Men Origins; it’s anarchic, silly and fun, presenting us with the best super hero film for adults since Blade.
While there is little doubt that this is Reynolds film the supporting cast does a solid job too, particularly T.J Millar’s comedy sidekick and Morena Baccarin, who I suspect is actually a mutant as she hasn’t aged a day since Firefly. Even the entirely CGI Colossus manages to show an incredible amount of charm, it is somewhat of a disappointment then that the villains never come off as anything more than caricatures. But this is only a minor qualm and Deadpool was never going to be the film to offer a deep investigation in to the tortured souls of its antagonists, that time could be much better spent on jokes about unicorn masturbation techniques or another decapitation… and quite rightly so. Deadpool knows what it is and it takes total delight in it.
This film was stuck in movie limbo for years until some test footage was ‘leaked’ on to the internet. The fans instantly got behind it, demanding to see more and with Reynolds as its champion the film not only got approved, but got approved with naughty words and full frontal violence. Is Deadpool a great film? No of course it isn’t, it’s a film about a costumed sociopath with a granny fetish and a penchant for overly elaborate evisceration, but it is the perfect film about Deadpool. For those of us who have been waiting a long time to see Wade properly represented on the big screen this was extremely gratifying and with rumours of a sequel already being greenlit, it seems as if this won’t be the last we see of the merc with a mouth.
POINTS OF INTEREST
- Be sure to stay until the very end of the credits for a little post credit sequence. It won’t be exactly what you are expecting but it’s still a lot of fun.
- Deadpool was originally created as a parody of DC’s Deathstroke the Terminator. Although Slade Wilson doesn’t exactly share Wade’s sense of humour.
- With a continuity established between Deadpool and the X-Men it will be interesting to see if he gets a cameo in X-Men: Apocalypse, although it does seem highly unlikely.
- In the opening credits of the film, the name ‘R. Liefeld’ can be seen written on the side of a coffee cup. This is a nod to Deadpool creator, Rob Liefeld.