Whenever you go to a Comic Con, you’re likely to see quite a few Deadpools wandering around. He’s a very popular comic book character, known for his constant quips (hence his nickname, the Merc with a Mouth), crazy, random sense of humour, ability to break the fourth wall, and penchant for extreme violence. Deadpool has already appeared in a live-action superhero movie – X-Men Origins: Wolverine, where he was played by Ryan Reynolds. His brief period of screentime towards the beginning captured the character’s attitude fairly well, but his reappearance at the climax enraged fans: he had been reduced to a remote-controlled zombie with no costume, no ability to speak, and a random assortment of powers, including retractable adamantium katanas so long that he shouldn’t have been able to move his arms. Happily, Reynolds has been given another crack at the character, in a solo movie that stays far more true to the source material.
When we begin the movie, Deadpool, aka Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is already in his costume, equipped with enhanced healing abilities, and taking on his enemies with some extreme manouvers. The origin story is told in flashbacks: Wade was a mercenary who was diagnosed with terminal cancer, which led to him leaving his girlfriend Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) and volunteering for a secret program which promised to not only cure him but make him a superhero. Things didn’t go as Wade had hoped, particularly with regards to his physical appearance, and now he is hunting down Ajax (Ed Skrein), the program leader who is responsible for his current state.
Considered as a movie in general, there are a few flaws. The story is quite weak, and most of the side characters – like the villain and the girlfriend – are generic. The tone swings back and forth, mostly going for comedy, but also providing some very dark scenes without much humour, as per Deadpool’s traditional origin story. The action is good: intense and extremely vicious – there’s decapitations, severed limbs, and even a guy getting splattered against a road sign. But chances are, people who go to see this movie aren’t looking for fascinating deconstructions or complex studies of what it means to be a hero: they want to see Deadpool and everything that comes with him. And with regards to that, the movie more than delivers.
Ryan Reynolds totally becomes Deadpool, who has a quip – usually one that’s not appropriate for children, hence the R-rating – for just about any line that somebody else throws his way. And as fans might expect, he regularly speaks to the camera and acknowledges that he’s in a movie. The film as a whole has a lot of self-awareness, as if Deadpool himself were directing, which provides some of the best jokes: the opening credits, instead of actors’ names, give us labels like “a hot chick” and “a British villain”, and there’s even little jabs at Green Lantern and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Even more so than Dad’s Army – not that you can really compare the two films, of course – my theatre was roaring with laughter throughout. There are also at least a couple of side characters which do provide some extra fun: X-Men members Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) – with the former being more traditionally noble, and the latter a moody, sarcastic teenager, they play off Deadpool very well. (“Only two of you? It’s almost as if the studio couldn’t afford another X-Man,” says the title character.)
Deadpool is not so much another superhero movie as a chance to do this character justice and give him free rein. Bear in mind that it’s adult, very violent and certainly dirty, but it’s also an absolute riot. Rating: 3.5/5.