WARNING: MILD SPOILERS FOLLOW
I’m touching myself tonight.
It’s kind of a funny thing, reviewing Deadpool. On the one hand, it’s important that I take everything into account, from how the writing influences the furthering of the plot, or how the actors flesh out the characters, or how the action compares to action in other comic book movies. On the other hand, I’m a comic book geek, and sometimes all it takes for a movie to win me over is for it to be stylish and straight-from-the-page in terms of kinetic violence. In this case, the latter took over, and it only took thirty seconds for it to make me laugh, and only five minutes for it to completely win me over. In a wonderful world where comic book movies are now a format for other genres to play out in, it’s so refreshing to write that while Deadpool may be a hit-and-miss comedy, it’s an original superhero movie unlike any you’ve ever seen.
Opening with the scene that was the original test footage that screened for fans at Comic-Con a few years back, Deadpool wastes no time getting started, dropping us right into the heat of battle (or, the closest thing). We’re introduced to Deadpool, “The Merc with a Mouth,” here played marvelously by Ryan Reynolds.
“Why the fancy red suit, Mr. Pool?” asks the driver of the cab Deadpool is riding in.
“It’s Christmas Day, Dopinder,” Mr. Pool replies. “And I’m after someone on my naughty list.”
And so begins the mayhem that is Deadpool, as our anti-hero (can I please stress the “anti” five more times?) makes his way through his villains with bullets, katanas, and most importantly, trash talk. In the opening scene (which is stellar, by the way) we see a man get decapitated, a body slam into a freeway sign, and Deadpool turn a guy “into a fucking kabob.” And not only that, but we get direct communication with him, as he turns toward the camera and breaks the fourth wall, something that’s hinted at earlier as he wipes gum off the camera lens. And while this fourth wall breaking may not be as effective as it is in, say House of Cards, it’s more frequent here, and loads funnier given how it makes the movie… special.
The fourth wall breaking leads to a lot of great stuff, such as Deadpool telling us about how he isn’t allowed to use the name of the man whose balls he had to fondle to get his own movie, but “it rhymes with Pulverine.” It was at this point that the movie completely won me over, and I knew (at least strongly hoped) that it wouldn’t drop off the map. And while the story dips into somewhat worn out origin story territory, the laughs keep coming… and coming, and coming, and coming. They refuse to stop, and that’s the joy of the clearly ridiculous but incredibly fun movie that first-time director Tim Miller has given us.
The dip comes in the flashbacks, where we find out just how Wade Wilson becomes the charred-skinned, red suit-clad anti-hero we now know him as (in other words, this is how the screenwriters show us unknowledgeable, non-believing pagans how things started in the comics). I say it’s a dip only because it was the only aspect of the film that made me want to check my watch. But it’s hard for me to criticize this, mainly because I like how writers Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese went the way of Batman Begins and alternated between flashbacks and present events, not letting the film’s far-less interesting backstory make the entire film fifty minutes feel like a drag. This way, when you’re getting bored (and I won’t lie, I got bored), you know that it’s only a matter of minutes before it’s going to cut back to present day where Deadpool kicks some ass and talks some trash (not to mention Deadpool’s narration that breathes some life into the seemingly lifeless scenes).
One of the biggest surprises about the film is the amount of times we see Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead, thus making the movie even more connected to the X-Men universe than I thought it would be. I loved both of these characters being in the movie, mainly because it gave us a look at two of the lesser known X-Men working together, providing a voice of reason for our main hero (add the “anti” again). Colossus has a tremendous scene in the final sequence of the film, which builds tension that is ultimately deflated by Deadpool, and it’s one of the film’s funniest moments. Regarding the X-Men, there is a wonderful moment in the third act of the film in which Deadpool arrives at Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, is greeted by Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead, and takes a low blow by pointing out how they’re always the only two mutants in such a big schoolhouse and how it’s as if the studio couldn’t afford to put another member of the X-Men in the movie. And I’m not joking. I’m pretty sure that’s an exact quote.
This kind of self-referential humor is what drives Deadpool, and none of it would be possible without the striking charisma of Ryan Reynolds who takes his fifteen plus years of acting and treats them as if they were all leading up to this; and truthfully, he’s right. This is by far Reynolds’ best performance, and it’s the best bit of superhero casting since Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man and Ron Perlman as Hellboy. Reynolds’ constant wisecracking is everything it could have been in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, had they not decided to sew his mouth shut, an example of what happens when you annoy Stryker. Oh well. That movie is long gone, and Deadpool knows it, not failing to poke fun at its failure not only as a movie, but as a so-called representation of the iconic comic book character. It also has fun with Green Lantern, not once, but twice. Man, this is a comic-book movie lover’s dream come true.
I also loved the main relationship between Wilson and Vanessa Carlysle (here played wonderfully by Morena Baccarin), particularly because she isn’t just some dame that needs saving. You root for these two to be together because of… reasons. And that’s all I will say. But I would love to gush over and over again about Ryan Reynolds. I went into Deadpool knowing next to nothing about the character, but even I know that this character has been done justice. While the script isn’t a complete success in terms of jokes landing, Reynolds finds a way to make most of them come off as hysterical, most of it being the whiny, pretentious, and snappy voice that never failed to slap a goofy grin on my skeptical face.
It also needs to be stated (but you already know this) that while this is a good choice of a movie to take your date to on Valentine’s Day (really, it is!), this is not for the faint of heart. This isn’t just a little more violent than your typical Marvel movie. No, this is Marvel’s first hard-R feature, complete with over 70 f-bombs, bloody violence, graphic nudity, and loads more. This isn’t a “Daddy-will-you-take-me-to-the-superhero-movie” kind of movie. But for those of us who thrive on seeing Marvel spice things up (Daredevil and Jessica Jones have nothing on this), Deadpool is a relentlessly satisfying time at the movies. Also, look out for Stan Lee’s cameo, which comes out of nowhere and is just as raunchy as the film itself. Fans will be quoting his line for ages and ages. It’s easily my pick for his best cameo ever. Deadpool may not be a great film, but I loved it. Capiche?