Deadpool has merely been a dream film for comic book fans for a long time; that movie that’s always been on the cusp of reality but always pulled away by fearful studio executives. After the treatment of the character in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, demand for a standalone Deadpool movie was practically demanded as penance.
And now, thanks to fan insistence plus a few strategic leaks of an early screenplay and test footage, that dream film is now playing in a theatre near you. After so much anticipation, partnered with possibly the best marketing campaign in Hollywood history, you’d think the final product wouldn’t be able to live up to the hype. Anyone who still says that after watching it is a jaded contrarian, because this movie delivers everything it promises and more.
Yes, Deadpool is another superhero origin story, but I doubt you’ve ever seen one quite like this. Told through a fragmented structure a la Batman Begins, the story of how Wade Wilson became the Merc with a Mouth follows many tropes of the genre, but also breaks just about as many and makes fun of the others. It’s very self-aware of what it is doing, with direct call-outs to certain movies and the character of Colossus essentially serving as a metaphor for the traditional superhero movie.
In terms of humour, the movie completely nails the fourth-wall breaking witticism of the comic books laced with copious amounts of innuendo. Is it a sense of humour that’s particularly biting or ingenious? No, but it’s not aspiring to be. The plot is mainly there as a platform for a series of ridiculous action sequences and some potty humour, but there is some substance underneath the style.
If the movie were nothing but violence and sex gags, as much as that alone would have satiated fans, the film would have quickly become one-note. In a surprising twist, Deadpool is at its core a surprisingly touching romance story about staying with the one you love in spite of dire circumstances. It’s nothing that’s going to make you cry, but that ultimately invests you in the story far more than ironic quips about not being able to afford more X-Men cameos.
This is a movie that delivers pure, adulterated entertainment (yes, I know that’s an oxymoron, but it’s intentional), tightly packing in a sh*tload of action and gags into a brisk run time that is never boring for a single frame. Oh, and like I even have to tell you, but STAY THROUGH THE CREDITS!
Ryan Reynolds was born to play Deadpool. In his first five minutes of screen time in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, he proved that before the movie got totally lazy and ruined him (don’t worry, it’s an issue firmly addressed here). Now getting to play the role unfiltered, Reynolds shines in what is his genuinely best performance to date. He belts out the one-liners like a champ and revels in every piece of awesomeness, but he’s also wonderful in the more serious moments (well, “serious for a Deadpool movie” moments).
There’s an authentic horror when he sees what has become of him, a real fear when he can’t bear to show the woman he loves, and certified anger at the one who did it to him. They even make sure to give him his limits through a simple moral code; it’s one that only makes sense to him, but at least he has one. Again, this level of commitment is what sells the movie beyond its bizarre personality.
Reynolds certainly ain’t getting Oscar consideration for this, but for a comic book fan this is the most accurate translation of a character since…well, actually, ever now that I think about it. Morena Baccarin makes for a perfect romantic foil for Wilson as the vivacious Vanessa, matching his quirks with her own for a very messed up but equally heartfelt romance. Her chemistry with Reynolds shoots off the screen and, though she does serve a damsel role in the climax, she’s no defenceless Mary Jane.
Ed Skrein finally gets a decent role here as the villain Ajax who, though not an adversary for the ages, is an effective counterpoint to Deadpool’s personality and even quite funny in a deadpan way. T.J. Miller steals every scene he is in as the sardonic Weasel, blurting out kooky and nonsensical punch lines that will have you laughing every time, Gina Carano doesn’t get much dialogue but makes up for it through exemplary glowering, and Brianna Hildebrand is a revelation as the ever-apathetic X-Man-in-training Negasonic Teenage Warhead (yeah, if you couldn’t tell already, it’s that kind of movie).
When they promised that Deadpool would be R rated, fans were overjoyed and I think they’ll be more than satisfied by the carnage on display. Whilst not diabolical on a Takashi Miike level, there is certainly a good abundance of blood, dismemberment and colourful four-letter words. The action sequences are wonderfully photographed and creatively composed, completely avoiding lazy action movie choreography to create a vivid and totally awe-inspiring experience.
The humour is even flavoured into the look of the film, with as many jokes in the background as there are in the dialogue (here’s a free hint: look closely at the pizza box). It’s hard to believe Tim Miller has never directed a feature film before, and he certainly deserves to do more considering the natural talent he’s displayed here.
In a similar sense to Guardians of the Galaxy, Deadpool is also a movie defined by its eclectic soundtrack featuring a mix of rock, hip-hop and 80s cheese. Some are used for comedic effect, others for the sake of badassery, but they’re all fitting choices that are sure to making it to your iTunes playlist very soon. Combined with Junkie XL’s fantastic retro-inspired score, it’s a movie that’s as aurally pleasing as it is visually.
Is Deadpool, a transcendent piece of filmmaking that epitomises not only comic book movies but also the art form in general? F*ck no! But does it accomplish everything it sets out to do with exemplary form? Abso-f*cking-lutely, and that’s why it gets a perfect score. My cheeks are in literal pain right now because I was laughing so much in this movie, and whenever I wasn’t doing that I was grinning in awe.
Deadpool is certainly a movie that doesn’t have mass-market appeal, but it perfectly appeals to the market it’s targeted at and that’s all you can ask for. This movie would have been perfectly satisfying if it has just been 90 minutes of jokes about giving Wolverine a blowjob, but it goes that extra mile by actually putting genuine heart and effort into the proceedings.
Now it’s up to you, fanboys. Get out to your local cinema and support this movie with your cash. Don’t make this another Scott Pilgrim vs the World. If you simply go see this movie, we are going to get more of what we want and I think Hollywood would be a far more interesting place with more edgy, eccentric, batsh*t insane comic book movies.