Deadpool had me at hello and by that I mean straightaway with the opening credits. The tone was immediately laid out and it was apparent from the first minute of this hard-R rated action comedy that this wasn’t your ordinary superhero/comic book production. Deadpool is the very definition of an anti-hero and director Tim Miller and star Ryan Reynolds embrace this flawed hero, delivering an irreverent – and graphic – comedy that ranks as one of the best Marvel films to date.
Full disclosure: I haven’t read the source material. Everything I know about the world of DC, Marvel, or any superhero or caped characters comes from films and TV, with the exception of Watchmen which I read multiple times. I’m a firm believer in the idea that you shouldn’t have to know anything about the source material to be entertained or engaged by the world that unfolds on the screen, and that applies to comic book-inspired adaptations as well as non-fiction works. As a moviegoer, I want to allow the director’s vision to guide me through the story and not be forced to rely on knowledge of the material gained prior to sitting in a semi-comfy chair in a darkened theater. What Deadpool the film needed to do was give me a reason to sit through two hours of action, violence, and dark humor driven by a guy in a goofy red suit. Who is this masked man and why should anyone care about him? Not only did the film answer those key questions, it left me – an admitted newbie to Deadpool’s world – wanting more of this twisted and slightly depraved character.
The film reveals the origin of Deadpool and unveils the mystery behind why he wears a mask in public. An ex-Special Forces soldier turned mercenary, Wade reluctantly agrees to gene-altering experiments following a devastating diagnosis. The secret organization pulls off a bait and switch, and the experiments leave Wade horribly disfigured but with the ability to heal incredibly fast. Wade escapes his captors and vows to find the people responsible for making him into a nearly invincible mutant forced into hiding his body and face so as not to scare people.
Wade Wilson/Deadpool has a foul mouth and a sharp tongue and doesn’t consider himself a superhero. He proudly lets his freak flag fly and while his costume is reminiscent of Spider-Man, there’s no way this costumed character will ever be confused with that do-gooder.
It’s impossible to picture anyone other than Ryan Reynolds playing the ‘Merc with a Mouth’ as he fits the character as snugly as the latex suit fits his well-toned body. Reynolds has incredible comic timing and his line delivery is spot on. He’s surrounded by a terrific cast of supporting actors led by TJ Miller as his dependable and snarky BFF and Morena Baccarin as the love of his life. And, thankfully, the love interest is a strong, capable woman and not a shrinking violet or damsel in distress unable and/or unwilling to stand up for herself.
The Bottom Line:
This isn’t a comic book film for families. Deadpool earned its R rating for violence, sex, nudity, and language, and is one of the few films of its ilk that is specifically meant for adult audiences only. It’s sexy, slutty, and deliciously wicked, although surprisingly it’s a love story that actually drives the action and is what motivates Deadpool to live his life under the mask.
Deadpool often breaks the fourth wall, playfully letting the audience in on the joke and breaking away from the cookie-cutter comic book film formula and smashing genre boundaries and expectations. The writing’s sharp, the one-liners mostly hit their marks, and the self-deprecating humor helps give Deadpool an edge. And even those who aren’t into the X-Men are able to easily follow the story.
Director Miller’s Deadpool is not for the easily offended or anyone who demands their entertainment be politically correct. The tone of Deadpool is unlike any other comic book adaptation which is a refreshing change of pace for the genre. Unapologetically twisted, Deadpool is a real treat for adults who like their comedies a little raunchy and the action fast, furious, and in your face.
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence and language throughout, sexual content and graphic nudity
Running Time 108 minutes