Genre: Action and Adventure, Comedy
Director: Tim Miller
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, T.J. Miller, Gina Carano, Brianna Hildebrand
Release Date: February 12, 2016
Deadpool is not your average superhero and the film about this leading man is not your typical Marvel movie.
When the opening credits begin to roll, page this movie’s sense of self-aware sarcasm becomes readily apparent. “Directed by an overpaid tool, page ” the text notes, and that’s just the beginning of a story. What follows from there is a superhero origin story that manages to offer a fresh (albeit vulgar and profane) perspective and a unique hero who embraces his contrarian personality.
Starting in a taxi cab — I didn’t realize superheroes took taxis — the feature opens with the masked superhero (Ryan Reynolds) riding to battle. The character speaks to his driver Dopinder (Karan Soni) about his past and in a voice-over, fills in the blanks for the audience. Within moments, Deadpool lifts off his mask revealing that he doesn’t care who knows who he is. He doesn’t care what people think of him and that’s partially what makes this character stand out.
Deadpool is a sarcastic leading man whose brazen personality never lets up. This is a character who doesn’t shy away from sexual jokes (“I’m touching myself tonight,” he notes after a fight scene), vulgarities or profanities. It’s clear from the start that this isn’t a family-friendly film. This is a film that embraces its boisterous hero and lets his self-assured identity shine through in every frame.
In the midst of a fight sequence, we witness the back story of how the cocky self-deprecating bachelor named Wade transformed into a cocky, self-deprecating superhero. It involved Wade’s love affair with an equally-sarcastic counterpart named Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) and a brutal diagnosis of late stage cancer. That diagnosis changed Wade’s life. He entered a controversial treatment facility, which was managed by a psychotic “doctor“ named Ajax (Ed Skrein). The treatment left Wade betrayed, burnt and bandaged. It also left him with the skills and powers to face off against the monsters who tortured and nearly killed him in their lab.
Despite the feature’s unique hero, the film doesn’t steer too far away from the superhero tropes we know so well. There’s a lot about this film that seems very typical (the origin story, the romantic supplot, the climax that includes Wade trying to save his loved one) but the tone itself — funny, fresh and highly-stylized — really makes this feature stand out.
Reynolds quickly proves himself in this leading role. This isn’t the first time what Reynolds has played a superhero. He previously played the title character in the poorly-received The Green Lantern and he played this character in X:Men Origins Wolverine. It’s only here though that we see him making his mark as the perfect embodiment of a superhero.
To his great credit, Reynolds proves not only that he can poke fun at his own image. He proves that he can embrace his self-deprecating character with the agility and confidence of a self-deprecating actor, who is willing to make jokes about his lackluster reviews as the Green Lantern and his acting abilities.
There are very few subjects that Deadpool isn’t afraid to mock. Breaking the fourth wall to fit in more funny one-liners is only one of the tricks this film has up its sleeve. This is a superhero movie that doesn’t take its concept that seriously (the jokes about the film’s budget and its connection to the X-Men universe are a particular delight). Not all of the punchlines work — some of the crude jokes fall apart — but this is a film that dares to push the boundaries of superhero fare and does it with such a sense of unabashed pleasure that it’s hard to deny how much of it really works.
Review by: John Hanlon