Film Review: 'Deadpool'
We finally got it! After nearly ten years in development hell, overwhelming fan demand, a test footage leak that sent the internet into a tizzy, a cathartic announcement, and what’s felt like the longest wait for a movie of all time, the supremely-anticipated Deadpool has finally found its way into theaters. It speaks to the Marvel antihero's popularity among comic book fans and the moviegoing populace to gross $150 million in a traditionally slow President's Day weekend - almost three times its modest (for a superhero movie, at least) budget.
And I'm elated to write, for those of us who have waited this long, that Deadpool was worth it all along. It's got everything the Merc with a Mouth is known for: raunchy humor, a self-aware and sarcastic tone, and cartoonish gore. It's the fulfilling of a dream not just for fans, but Ryan Reynolds, who stars as the titular Merc, and has also poured his heart and soul into getting this movie made.
Deadpool doesn't wait to deliver the goods, opting to open in the midst of a chaotic, airborne car wreck as the camera navigates the crevices between poor bastards, shrapnel, miscellaneous objects, and Deadpool himself. It's a one-of-a-kind opening credits sequence that sets the humorous tone of the movie right away, opting for names like "the sexiest man alive" for Reynolds and "some overpaid asshole" for director Tim Miller. It’s the perfect segway into a gory, raunchy and outright ridiculous superhero comedy that is enjoyably self-aware and lampoons genre conventions that have been grilled into our psyche over the past ten years.
The film then cuts back a few months in the past to introduce us to Deadpool's origins in former special forces operative Wade Wilson (Reynolds) who's made the career change to mercenary. Besides his lethality, Wade is most notorious for his running mouth, sparing no one of his biting humor – not even the audience nor the filmmakers, in several fourth wall-breaking moments. Once in a while, we cut back to the present and see Deadpool crack some jokes or kill some more bad guys, never letting us go too long without being entertained by the red-suited assassin. This is a movie that knows exactly what the audience wants, and doesn't wait to trough completely through an origin story before Wade finally becomes the headlining hero.
Wade attracts an equally bad girl in Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), sparking a long-lasting and never-so-uptight-about-it relationship. A wrench gets thrown into the whole thing when Wade is diagnosed with cancer, prompting a visit to him by a recruiter (Jed Rees) who promises to cure his cancer and make him into a superhero. In a rare sensitive moment, Wade obliges, and he’s subjected to tortuous experience that give him a healing factor, a-la Wolverine – but not without costing him his good looks by disfiguring his face and all of his skin. And it’s all thanks to the arduous torturing of enigmatic lead scientist Ajax (Ed Skrein) and his beautiful but brutish assistant Angel Dust (Gina Carano).
Wade may be cured and more powerful than ever before, but he can’t bare to show himself to Vanessa, who thinks him dead. So he instead makes it his mission to hunt down the man who ruined his life. So after donning his iconic red and black costume, he pursues and kills lead by lead with staunch fury and sharp wit. Hopefully somewhere, he'll get his girl back.
So you're telling me that all this "superhero" wants to do is kill some guy and get back his girl? Yes. In fact, that's precisely the magic of Deadpool; this is a superhero movie where the superhero has absolutely no interest in being one, instead going after what is relatively a petty grudge. There are no cities leveled, no massive alien invasions, and certainly no villain vowing to destroy the world and enslave the human race. Deadpool just wants to have fun hunting down some scientist, and the movie's departure from standard superhero fare is not only exciting, but sets up some great jokes that you bet he'll make fun of. There isn't one scene that will fail to light up a theater in laughter; this is the kind of movie where you’ll miss the second punchline because you were too busy laughing at the first one.
Of course, this is a superhero flick made at the relatively modest budget of $59 million, so only a couple of Deadpool’s mutant brethren make appearances – yet another fact the film hilariously lampoons more than once. Playing second fiddle are the good-minded, powerful, CGI’ed Colossus (voiced by Stefan Kapicic) and teenage time bomb, Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) – both of whom make an effort to drop his dastardly ways and recruit him into Charles Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. Yes, the film’s X-Men ties, while apparent, are very light, but we don’t feel like we’re missing out on something; Deadpool is such a force in his own right that we only need him to be entertained so much. It also speaks to the creativity and ingenuity of Reynolds and the filmmakers to make such a massively successful and hilarious movie when budgeting issues consistently held them back.
This is a movie staunchly devoted to being true to the source material, and because of its placement in the midst of a superhero movie extravaganza, Deadpool is all the more praise-worthy, notorious, and groundbreaking, sure to inspire countless R-rated imitators in the superhero genre. Above all, Ryan Reynolds has made the best Deadpool movie possible because, as the Merc himself would put, he fucking loves Deadpool. We’re barely two months in, but I’ll call my shot right now: Deadpool will be the funniest movie of 2016.
Written by Rhrett Reese & Paul Wernick (screenplay) and Fabian Nicieza and Rob Liefeld (character).
Directed by Tim Miller.
Starring Ryan Reynolds and Morena Baccarin.