Second chances don’t come around often, but when they do, you have to grab life by the chimichangas and cut its freakin’ head off with a pair of samurai swords. That’s the philosophy of “Deadpool,” the foul-mouthed, foul-faced and fourth-wall-breaking anti-hero we’ve all been waiting for. That’s right. The bungled character opportunity from the even more bungled mess that was “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” gets a shot at redemption with his own solo R-rated comedy movie that subverts everything we’ve been taught about the superhero genre. More importantly, it showcases a spectacular and manic rally from Ryan Reynolds (the aforementioned wasted opportunity in “Origins”), a man born to play this role.
By all natural laws of the universe, “Deadpool” should not exist. What studio in its right mind would greenlight a film project about a pseudo-crime fighter in red spandex who drops copious amounts of F-bombs, describes his enemies as bags of dick thistles and leaves a trail of mutilated bodies in his wake? It’s certainly doesn’t sound like a fit for the family friendly Marvel Cinematic Universe over at Disney. Well, Twentieth Century Fox (which owns Marvel properties like “X-Men”) decided to take the risk and we can all thank the comic book gods that it did.
From its hilarious opening credits set to Juice Newton’s “Angel of the Morning,” this movie strives to be different from all other cinematic depictions of super powered beings. It’s about Wade Wilson (Reynolds), a smart-mouthed ex-special ops mercenary who takes care of creepy stalkers for teenage girls. After meeting and falling in love with a prostitute named Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) and a montage of kinky sex scenes, he’s diagnosed with terminal cancer. It is then that he’s approached by a shady organization that promises to not only cure his illness, but give him abilities most men only dream of. And so, to save his love life, Wade enters into a project to trigger a mutation in his genes (similar to the Weapon X program in Wolverine’s storyline).
Thankfully for us, the gruesome process of triggering a mutation does not rob Wade of his sense of humor. Horribly disfigured, but rendered practically immortal like our Adamantium-fused Australian friend who gets multiple shout outs but sadly no cameo, he goes after the one man who can reverse his horrendous appearance: the dastardly Francis Freeman aka Ajax (Ed Skrein). If you’ve seen the trailers, you know what funny comparisons can be made to his hideous visage thanks to Wade’s barkeep friend Weasel (T.J. Miller). By plot standards, “Deadpool” is very by the numbers, but you’ll be having so much bloody fun, literally, you won’t care in the slightest.
Wade is like a fanboy supplanted into a comic book movie, the common man’s hero, pointing out cliches and making rapid fire pop culture references not only to the Marvel universe (both owned and not owned by Fox), but to our world in which the Marvel movies exist. “X-Men: Origins” is bullied mercilessly and not even non-Marvel properties are safe when our protagonist takes a shot at the poorly received “Green Lantern,” which Reynolds also starred in. It’s a sign that even uptight studio suits are not above having a good and hearty laugh at their past failures every once in awhile.
Reynolds is nothing but a pure delight in the role that allows him free reign to make fun of everyone and everything, addressing the audience directly while putting bullets in people’s heads with absolute glee. It’s especially fun when the supporting characters are more straight-faced. Take, for instance, the only two X-Men the studio could afford: Russian Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) and moody teenager Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) who try to get Deadpool to renounce his debaucherous ways and become not just a superhero, but an X-Man. But Mr. Pool has too much fun as a non-conventional hero playing by his own rules to settle for that kind of life, and who could blame him?
This was just the original story. Think what we could see in sequels and crossovers! Tim Miller’s full length directorial debut is the hope for all of comic book adaptations that have been and will be. There’s still some originality and wit to be wrung from this genre, which can assure us of one thing: behind every great superhero is Deadpool…sticking out his tongue and giving them bunny ears.