Yeah yeah I’m a couple of years behind on this, but I finally caught up with the world’s favourite foul-mouthed, snarky, fourth-wall-breaking superhero.
Full disclosure, the reason I resisted watching the movie despite the consistent praise, including from a friend who normally would never watch a superhero flick, is my inexplicable dislike of Ryan Reynolds. For all I know he could be the nicest man in real life, but I can’t explain it, the guy just always rubbed me wrong. I can’t say I’ve made a 180-degree turn, but I can’t deny that Reynolds does a stellar job here, ripping into the role with gusto, energy and fantastic comic timing.
If you take away the snappy self-referential humour, gorier violence and more sexually explicit talk than normally found in your average superhero movie, Deadpool is an extremely straightforward origin/revenge story. Before he donned the costume, Reynolds’ Wade Wilson was a cynical mercenary and a self-confessed bad guy who took care of the worse guys. He finds a kindred hard-boiled spirit in a prostitute named Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), and after an extended sex montage the two find themselves genuinely in love. Their happiness is short-lived after Wade receives a death sentence in the form of an advanced cancer, and because this is a superhero movie his only hope is agreeing to be the subject of secret experiments. Which turn out to be more like brutal torture at the hands of a sadistic scientist, and while it unlocks Wade’s self-healing mutant abilities and cures his cancer, it also leaves him looking like a burn victim. Goodbye love, hello spandex-wearing, blood-soaked revenge.
Despite the simple premise lacking in originality, Deadpool in all its raunchy and crass glory felt like an antidote to your normal Marvel fare. As a big fan of the X-Men franchise I had a good time chuckling at the irreverent mockery thrown its way, especially the infamously convoluted timeline of the series (McAvoy or Stewart? Deadpool quips at the mention of Professor X). The two X-Men goody-goodies who pester Deadpool throughout the movie, earnest and heavily accented Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead, a sulky goth girl, are hilarious additions to the supporting cast.
The movie riffs on everything starting from superhero tropes to IKEA cabinets; not every joke or pop culture reference lands, but the pace is so fast and furious that not to worry, there’s another just around the corner that does. And though Vanessa doesn’t get much to do, her and Wade’s romance is surprisingly affecting and there’s some neat chemistry between Reynolds and Baccarin. Of course now that there’s a sequel I suspect that poor Vanessa is getting bumped out of the story one way or another.