We’re just six weeks into 2016, and we already have our first superhero movie. (We’ll see at least a half-dozen more this year. Brace yourself.) But Deadpool isn’t your grandpa’s superhero movie. Heck, it isn’t even your dad’s superhero movie. As self-aware, boundary-breaking, and refreshing as anything in the genre so far, Deadpool takes everything you know about dudes-in-tights flicks and throws it right out the window.
Actually, it crumples it up, spits on it, and drop kicks it with a barbed wire boot. Out of a forty-story building. Into a burning dumpster.
Ryan Reynolds stars as Wade Wilson, a mercenary who spends his (pre-super) time as a pseudo Robin Hood– helping the picked-on and downtrodden. Along the way he falls in love with Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) and then discovers he has terminal cancer. When a shadowy-lookin’ fella invites Wade to join a program that will cure him, Wade, in desperation, accepts.
Turns out, though, that the program is run by the nefarious Ajax (Ed Skrein), who cures Wade of the cancer and (bonus) makes him impervious to injury… but the experiment also makes Wade look like a prune-faced burn victim. After being left for dead, Wade survives and decides to become Deadpool to get revenge on Ajax and his gang.
Sounds like a fairly standard superhero origin story, right? Maybe so– but the vehicle is anything but. The first giveaway is the opening credits, which tells us the film stars “God’s Perfect Idiot”, co-stars “A Moody Teen”, and is directed by “An Overpaid Tool”. From there, Reynolds proceeds to directly address the camera with snark and sarcasm, skewering everything from Limp Bizkit to Yakov Smirnoff.
Deadpool is so meta, in fact, that it makes meta-movies like This is the End seem downright oblivious. Hugh Jackman gets his due– both as himself and as Wolverine (harkening back to Reynolds’ first go-round as Wade Wilson in X-Men Origins: Wolverine), Taken is taken down, and even Reynolds himself is name-checked… by Reynolds himself. No pop culture trope is safe (including the vaunted Stan Lee cameo), and it helps makes Deadpool one of the more entertaining superhero films in years.
Newbie director Tim Miller keeps things zipping along with tightly choreographed fight sequences that continue the theme, mocking The Matrix’s super slo-mo. Reynolds, despite solid turns in rom-coms like Definitely, Maybe and The Proposal, has never really found his niche; he’s even given comic book movies a go, but the results were the disastrous Green Lantern (which also gets mocked mercilessly in Deadpool, not once but twice) and the abominable R.I.P.D. Turns out, all Reynolds needed was the right script.
That’s not say that the screenplay by the Zombieland duo of Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick is perfect, mind you. Eventually the schtick does get a somewhat tired, and the profanity-for-profanity’s-sake starts to grate by the end, but the pros far outweigh the cons.
Deadpool is clever and fun, and it may just end the year the same way it started it– the funniest (and best) superhero/comic book movie of 2016.