Although I can’t confess to being a huge fan of superhero comic book movies since most seem so derivative and repetitive, I was thoroughly surprised and entertained by Marvel’s latest, Deadpool. I suppose I shouldn’t have been too shocked that this was really good due to the incredible buzz surrounding the early footage shown at last July’s Comic Con. It stole the show then, and rightly so.
This isn’t just any comic book movie adaptation. No, it revels in making mincemeat out of the genre and constantly breaking the fourth wall to make sure every fanboy knows this character does not take himself — or the situation he finds himself in — as any more than another movie about a guy in spandex. So what makes this raunchy R-rated entry work as well as it does? One answer comes immediately to mind: Ryan Reynolds. This talented comic actor may have taken his shots from critics and fans in the past, particularly for his last ill-fated comic book outing The Green Lantern. But don’t hold it against him. He really over-delivers here throwing off scripters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick’s deliciously clever and witty lines with abandon. Newbie director Tim Miller knows how to make this all work too, blending tons of action with long stretches of verbal trickery and great lines that come so quickly it would be wise to see this film at least twice just to catch it all. As I say in my video review above, Deadpool had me right from the hilarious opening credits which don’t reveal the name of the filmmakers but instead, for instance, refer to its producers as “Asshats” and its director as a “studio owned tool.” Of course the writers are referred to as “heroes.” It is very funny stuff.
But the film does have a strong serious underpinning as our hero, Wade Wilson, a former Special Forces operative-turned-mercenary, looks to take on a severe experiment which promises to leave him with superpowers in order to combat the end-stage cancer riddling his body. Evil Ajax (Ed Skrein) puts him through the ringer in a body-destroying initiation that would kill any mere mortal. But Wade is determined to stay alive and gain these powers so he can be with his true love, another flawed human being named Vanessa Carylysle (the excellent Morena Baccarin), whom he meets when she is a prostitute. The one thing Wade wasn’t counting on in the whole process was becoming terribly maimed and not being able to reverse those effects of this “treatment.” Of course he swings into action, looking very similar in his suit to Spider-Man, but given much more interesting dialogue than that web weaver has ever had in the movies. To be sure the script is laced with profanity and dirty asides. It also takes love scenes and makes them more graphic than ever seen in this kind of film.
What I really liked about it, in addition to a great Reynolds performance, was the spirit and freshness it brings to a well-worn genre. It is completely winning all the way. Deadpool’s sidekicks are an equal delight including the CGI Hulk-like creation Colossus and a deadpan Negasonic Teenage Warhead (that’s her name) played nicely by Brianna Hildebrand. Also welcome in his few scenes is a confidante to Wade named Weasel, a barkeep played by Silicon Valley’s T.J. Miller.
But in the end it all belongs to Reynolds (who produced with Lauren Shuler Donner and Simon Kinberg), and I predict it is the beginning of a great franchise. For 20th Century Fox it certainly wipes away the stench from last summer’s bomb, Fantastic Four. Deadpool is just simply fantastic entertainment.
Do you plan to see it? Let us know what you think.