Right from the get-go, you can tell… it’s on like competitive ping-pong.
Deadpool found itself in a bit of “controversy” during its PR push when it landed an “R” rating – a rating which the marketing team reveled in, wearing as a badge of honor like a sort of “look how awesome we are, adult fanboys!” type of way. Not that there’s anything necessarily wrong with that; since day one, the movie has been priding itself on its “dare to be different” philosophy, which quite frankly is likely the only mantra that could ever work with a film based on a character like Deadpool.
For those that are unfamiliar, a quick review: debuting in the height of the early 1990s edgy-is-the-new-cool mania, Wade Wilson (aka The Merc with a Mouth) is a wise-cracking anti-hero who has routinely aggravated most of the Marvel Universe in his quest to… well, he doesn’t really have any specific set goals, just generally out to have some fun and enjoy his near-immortal powers. He’s one of the few characters that is actually aware he is a work of fiction, routinely talking directly to the comic book reader – and this gravitas (or lack thereof) definitely spills over into the Deadpool feature film.
The “get-go” referenced above is the opening credits of the film: a credit sequence that features not a single actual name of anyone who worked on the film, but instead the “realistic” depictions of who’s behind the creation of the movie. We won’t spoil it all for you here, but let’s just say that when the words “Directed by an Overpaid Idiot” flash on the screen, you’ll likely already be laughing your way into a sweet movie-watching experience.
As the plotline goes, Wade (Ryan Reynolds, as if you didn’t know that already) is just your general everyday mercenary for hire, who one day gets lucky and meets a swell gal who can give just as much crap as she can take: Vanessa Carlysle (played by genre vet Morena Baccarin). It wouldn’t be a good superhero film without some angst to drive things, so wouldn’t you know it, Wade is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Desperate to find a way to stay alive and keep enjoying his newfound romance, he agrees to work with a super-shady organization that promises to cure him by subjecting him to a procedure that will activate his latent mutant genes. It works – he’s cured of his cancer, but side effects include horribly disfigured skin from head to toe, a healing factor that makes it nigh-impossible for him to die, and oh yeah, he’s obligated to work for the shady agency pretty much forever. When he says no to that last bit, agency goons Ajax (Ed Skrein) and Angel Dust (Gina Carano) kidnap Vanessa, and it’s up to Wade – with the help of X-Men Colossus (Stefan Kapičić) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) – to get her back.
Sounds like fairly standard stuff, right? Well, it is – to a point. While the overall plot doesn’t necessarily do anything new or ground-breaking for the film, it’s the presentation that garners Deadpool its style points. Remember that “R” rating that was spoke of earlier? Deadpool earns it in spades, being purposefully one of the most non-superhero superhero films that’s ever been made. The sheer amount of dirty jokes, gratuitous references to sex and – ahem – self-love, copious use of foul language, and the sheer absurdity of the title character talking directly to you, the audience, during the movie makes for an experience never seen before on film.
It’s not all sunshine and roses, however. If you’ve followed the incredibly smart and creative marketing campaign that the film has produced over the last few months, there’s no easy way to say it: you’ve already seen a lot of the activity that the film contains. The opening sequence of a really kick-ass highway destruction/beat-up-the-bad-guys scene is damn impressive – but for those of us who saw all the previews, it sorta feels old already. The same goes for Wade’s interactions with his friend Weasel (TJ Miller)… the jokes between the two are very funny, but we’ve seen them on commercials and YouTube clips (Miller’s part in the finished cut of the movie is surprisingly small; perhaps we’ll see more of him and his comedic skills in an “unrated” home video version). Certainly, there is lots in the movie that wasn’t shown in any previews or PR clips – but there’s a lot that was.
The inclusion of two X-Men in the film is both a blessing and a curse. While it is awesome to see some of the cross-property mojo find its way to the 20th Century Fox side of Marvel (as the Disney side has been lending its Avengers characters to each of the others’ movies for years now), the feeling starts to seep in a little that this is an X-Men spinoff. There’s also the question of how Deadpool fits into the cinematic X-Men chronology, as there is a new X-Men film coming our way in just a few months; X-Men: Apocalypse, however, takes place in the 1980s, and Deadpool is set in present-day, which essentially tells us that whatever happens in Apocalypse obviously won’t be world-ending (i.e. the X-Men will win), because the team is alive and well in current times to help Wade out. Right? Timey-wimey stuff always makes my brain hurt. Aside from all that, this reviewer does have to admit that Colossus might have been my favorite part of the film; he’s the perfect “straight man” to Deadpool’s ridiculous existence.
For the few complaints, however, the bottom line is this: Deadpool is the most fun you’ll have in a dark room all year. It’s an insanely fun film, one that has a style that you’re not likely to see anywhere else in the superhero world and one that won’t be replicated anytime soon. Reynolds is clearly having fun playing the character, and that fun infectiously seeps into the audience to help the good times roll. So head on out to your local cineplex, make a gratuitous chimichanga joke, and enjoy the rollicking ride that is the movie-watching experience of Deadpool.