"Captain Deadpool! No, just Deadpool."
I've rarely seen a movie so happy to be itself. Deadpool is so comfortable in its own skin, so damn sure that it's hitting the mark, and is as self-mocking as it is sincere. This movie constantly reminds the viewer why it exists and knows it's place in the supersaturated superhero film genre. This might work better for more devoted superhero fanboys than the average viewer, but accoring to the box office results, pandering to a niche didn't end up being a problem. Deadpool, written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, takes a much-beloved antihero known for his ability to be uncannily self-aware while also being much more profane than the typical Marvel character. 20th Century Fox took a stab at including the character in the awful X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but he was reduced to a mouth-sewn zombie in the final act. It was pretty much a disaster from a fan perspective. Ryan Reynolds is reportedly a huge fan of the character, so to be cast once again in the role and given the chance to "get it right" was apparently a huge thrill for him. I'll be damned if it doesn't show.
"Have you seen this man?"
After a truly inspired opening credits scene, the film begins with Deadpool (Reynolds) already in full costume and out for revenge against the man who turned him into a mutant freak. Deadpool's power is that he cannot die, though whether or not he can feel pain is not specified (for the better). Unfortunately, his skin has been severely deformed. As his friend Weasel (T.J. Miller) so eloquently puts it, he looks like an avocado had sex with an older, more disgusting avocado. While on a rampage searching for Francis a.k.a. Ajax (Ed Skrein), a few of the X-Men show up to stop him: Colossus (a CGI character, voiced by Stefan Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), who might just have the most awesome X-Men name ever. Colossus wants Deadpool to join the X-Men and become a hero, but Deadpool is having none of it. Through a series of flashbacks, we are introduced to Deadpool as Wade Wilson, a former mercenary who falls in love with Vanessa (Morena Baccarin, who disappointingly gets no referential lines about playing yet another "hooker with a heart of gold"). However, just before the two can get married, Wade is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Approached by Ajax and Angel Dust (Gina Carano), Wade accepts their offer to cure his cancer so long as they can experiment with his body and activate his dormant mutant genes. It doesn't go well.
In 2014, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t see another superhero film as irreverent, self-aware, or funny as Guardians of the Galaxy. I think Deadpool may have topped it. While the GOTG is probably a better movie overall, Deadpool takes fourth wall breaking (and in some cases, sixteen wall-breaking) to the next level. I wondered about how this would fit into the X-Men film universe, if there would be mention of Deadpool’s horrendous appearance in Origins: Wolverine, and how this would compare to Disney’s Marvel movies. And the writers of Deadpool know this. And they laugh at me. I’m not at all insulted; it’s done so well, and the humor is so fast and fearless that all you care about is the good time you’re having.
"You will die alone, if you could die. Ideally, for others' sake."
While Deadpool may not exactly rewrite the rules of cinema, it does add some much-needed life to a genre that is becoming more crowded practically every week. The film works because of Ryan Reynolds' pitch-perfect performance and the script's unwillingness to hold back with weirdness, grotesqueness, violence, and anachronistic humor. Deadpool himself is so gleefully crass and wonderfully repulsive; and he can’t help but be adorable through it all. Comic book movies are a big hit with the PG-13 crowd right now, so it's great to see one that unflinchingly earns its R rating. Humor is subjective, and much of the humor in Deadpool depends on its audience knowing how terrible The mood is fun, but there's also some genuine heart during the flashback scenes with Wade and Vanessa, and the chemistry between Reynolds and Baccarin is great during bits like their holiday sex montage. It's no all laughs either; the torture scenes in Ajax's facility are brutal and even a little hard to watch. The supporting cast is excellent as well, and I wouldn't be surprised if half of T.J. Miller's lines were improvised on the day.
"If there's one thing that doesn't last long here, it's a sense of humor."
The film is technically impressive as well, with some truly stunning visuals and great action set pieces. Deadpool's animated eyes blend especially well with his mask and practical suit (which couldn't look any better). Shaky-cam and tight close-ups are pretty much a non-issue, and the film’s hyper-kinetic editing style matches Deadpool’s hyperactive mind. While the third act suffers some over-the-top CGI and the music lacks a strong theme for the character, Deadpool's song choices are outstanding. X Gon' Give it to Ya, Shoop, a Deadpool rap, and even Careless Whisper are all put to great use. The score by Junkie XL is composed partly by very 80s-sounding synthesizers, which is more than fine by me.
"McAvoy or Stewart? These timelines are confusing..."
Where the film lacks is in its villains. Ajax and Angel Dust are supposed to be uncaring and emotionless, and that's exactly what they are. The problem is that not much of the story is devoted to getting to know them or how they got into their situations, and they don't leave much of an impression outside their action scenes. Well-performed? Yes, but the characterization’s just not there. This seems to be a problem in many modern superhero movies; bland, generic, and unmemorable villains. I'd argue that the best Marvel villain put to screen is still X-Men's own Magneto, who despite being played by two actors by this point, was still first put to screen sixteen years ago. With the wealth of comic characters to chose from, I know they can do better than this..
"That was so awesome!"
Deadpool is not the typical comic book movie, and from what I hear, the comic is just the same. Deadpool himself is a really fun character; unpredictable, disgusting, and is essentially a one-liner machine. I’m so glad the comic was adapted as a hard-R, satirical comedy that benefits from Ryan Reynold’s commitment immensely. It’s made all the more funny by Reynold’s past failures as this very same character and as the Green Lantern from 2011, with subtle (and not-so-subtle) ribbing at both. As a fan of the genre, I absolutely loved it, and even if this film stands alone in this genre of full of shared universes and confusing continuities, it will definitely stand tall.