Let’s be honest, superhero movies haven’t always been good us fans. Aside from the last installments of the X-Men and Marvel movies, we’ve had our intelligence insulted, our childhoods molested and our pride decimated. And that’s just Fantastic Four. So when the Deadpool test footage starring Ryan Reynolds (an actor who made us cringe through Green Lantern and X-Men Origins where he played Deadpool) made its way online, we cheered with excitement but we couldn’t help but wonder how the studio would manage to screw it up. It was a given, right? Deadpool has laughed in the face of my lowered expectations while doing a piss dance on my thoughts of uncertainty.
Things start off with a bang with opening credits that will have you laughing in your seat even before the movie starts. We find Wade Wilson, an ex-Special Forces operative who is now a sociopath working as a mercenary who spends his time outsmarting and beating teenage stalkers, exchanging in sarcastic banter, probably not bathing, and drinking at Sister Margaret’s Home for Wayward Girls, which is actually a dive bar for fellow mercenaries run by his best friend Weasel (T.J. Miller). Life is rather mundane until he meets the enigmatic prostitute, Vanessa Carlysle (Morena Baccarin) whose crazy matches his crazy to create a perfect circle of sex-crazed crazy. In-between all the holiday “balls in holes” sarcasm and various nude shots, Wilson discovers he has stage four cancer. In light of the unfortunate news, Wilson discovers his inner Sweet November and spares Vanessa the pain of watching him die by abandoning her.
When all hope is lost, a mysterious recruiter (played by Jed Ress) makes Wilson an offer he can’t refuse… because there wouldn’t be much of a plot if he did. Wilson can either die of cancer which is ravaging his body or undergo a torturous experiment performed by Ajax, a way-too sadistic scientist who has a panache for household cleaners. The experiments will either trigger his mutant gene and cure his cancer while unknowingly making him a slave to the secret program, or just kill him. The process goes on for weeks but works with the small side effect of him looking like a walking sun-dried Freddy Krueger.
After discovering he has incredible healing abilities, Wade’s goal is to get his old body back, along with his girl and possibly a chimichanga or two. However, Wade has to find Ajax first as he happens to be the only person who can fix his pizza-like situation.
After donning various costumes and being gifted with the name of “Deadpool” by his friend Weasel, Wade spends his days stalking Vanessa, living with a blind woman who loves to build cabinets, and killing a ton of bad guys in his search for Ajax. All goes well until his plans are rudely interrupted by X-Men‘s Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) who, in a graphic yet downright hilarious battle that involves broken limbs and a severed hand, try to get Deadpool to join the mutant team.
Stripped down to its essence, Deadpool is anti-superhero packed in a straightforward revenge/love story. However, it’s also a redemption story for all comic book/superhero fans. True to the comics, Deadpool is just a “bad guy who gets paid to fuck people up.” Like the Deadpool character, it also happens to be refreshingly unique, action-packed and effortlessly funny.
The movie is true to the beloved comics, Deadpool breaks the fourth wall on many of occasions to provide commentary to the commentary, speak freely about about masturbation and defecation, drop random yet cleverly placed references to the Spin Doctors, The Matrix, Sinead O’Connor, Judy Blume’s Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, the Taken franchise, and much appreciated pop-culture references that pop into his bullet-filled head.
When watching the movie it’s easy to see why it had such a hard time getting made, despite studios over saturating the superhero movie market. It’s truly unlike anything we’ve seen in this medium; Deadpool does not fall in the category of your sappy hero. There is no teenage angst or cookie-cutter happiness or black-and-white staleness. The beauty behind the movie is its freedom, it embraces the pure psychotic nature of Wade’s violence, brashness, and cocky attitude. Knowing that Deadpool will always heal, we see action sequences filled with gleeful ridiculousness that matches his cynicism.
While the non-linear writing is fresh and crisply switches between past and present and serves as a much needed device to break up the true sadness of Wilson battling cancer and being tortured. However, the movie is nothing without Ryan Reynolds whose Deadpool story is his only chance at true redemption. By the first action sequence and joke told, the audience soon forgets the disrespectful horribleness that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Green Lantern and Blade: Trinity. This is the role he was born to play, not wasting a single moment to pass up the opportunity he fought for, he possesses the language, chemistry and bravado of the character.
The cast matches Reynolds perfection, with playful banter that feels like everyone is close friends off the set. Baccarin is kind and accepting while also a fighter, vulnerable and damaged. She is the ying to Reynolds’ yang. Miller, a master of ad-lib, is delightful as he bounces jokes effortlessly with Reynolds. Even newcomer Hildebrand as a goth X-Men in training is a delight onscreen, sending angry texts while trading blows with Gina Carano’s Angel Dust. Kapicic’s Colossus’, a towering menacing giant brings all heart and meaningful speeches which are ignored by Deadpool. Skrein, as Ajax and the butt of many Deadpool’s jokes, is deliciously evil as the man who feels no pain. Even smaller roles like Dopinder, a taxi driver and acquaintance is able to keep with the zaniness of the movie, taking Deadpool’s words about love too much to heart.
Unlike other superhero adaptations, Deadpool was made for only $58 million dollars, but never felt like it went to waste. The visual are stunning, as Miller’s background made the action sequences look and feel rich and creative. The choreographed acrobatics and hand-to-hand combat, swift gunplay, and katana-battles take full advantage of its R-rating – with carefully a crafted body count that is both satisfying and plentiful; further establishing the anti-hero nature of the character– but never making the violence uncomfortable and gratuitous.
Taking over five years for the script to be made, Deadpool is a love letter to fans. It’s time for a vivid, bad ass bright superhero movie that breaks out of the mundane paint-by-numbers adaptation. It opens the doors to relatable weird and quirky characters that we can root for while laughing out loud. Deadpool was worth every year; a multi-layered, flawed, funny character that opens the doors to many more like him. Today is a good day to be a comic book fan in an age where all is welcomed.