The merc with the mouth finally gets his own movie. Sure, Deadpool has kinda been in film already, but his appearance in WOLVERINE: ORIGINS was largely forgettable and barely represented the character. DEADPOOL had a long run-up, and it feels like fan-interest in the film has been the driving force behind its creation: what with the leaked test footage and the subsequent decision by Fox to push on with the project.
But it’s okay, because DEADPOOL is great. It’s fun, fast and furious. Deadpool as a character is aware that he’s a creation: DEADPOOL the movie has that same sense of self-awareness. That alone differentiates it from the currently rather packed superhero marketplace.
The plot is pretty simple and on paper it sounds like a stock superhero pitch. Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is an ex-Special Forces soldier, who makes a living with small-time mercenary jobs. He falls in love with Vanessa (Moren Baccarin), but their apparently idyllic existence is shattered by the discovery that Wilson has late-stage cancer. Wilson decides to undergo experimental “superhero” therapy to conquer the disease. He discovers, however, that the promised reprieve is anything but: Ajax (also known as Francis; played by Ed Skrein) intends to make him into an obedient killer rather than a hero. He’s been injected with a serum that requires extreme stress to activate an unpredictable genetic mutation. Wade Wilson thus becomes Deadpool…
The movie is comprised of two interspersed story arcs: the present, in which Wilson tracks down Ajax, and the past, where Wilson’s origin story is followed. My biggest criticism of an otherwise highly enjoyable movie is the disparity between these two arcs. Possibly because it is so entertaining to watch Reynolds as Deadpool, the film is far more successful in the present than it is in the past. The one-liners are childish, crude and hilarious! We’re also treated to Deadpool’s characteristic breaking of the fourth wall, with lots of in-universe jibes at the wider Marvel empire. This part of the movie is more or less a single lineal action scene, and it’s surprising how well it work.
I found the flashback elements of the film jarred a little with the brevity and black humour of the present-day Deadpool story, and in addressing the character’s origin, we also lose a bit of his mystery. Comic-book Deadpool has a pretty murky background: he’s presented a variety of possible histories, and his unclear origins have become an important part of his character. He’s a bit like Heath Ledger’s Joker in DARK KNIGHT; an everyman. By focusing on his history, the film also defines it, which tends to dispel some of the character’s mystique. That said, I can see why the producers did this, as the flashback sequences drive on the present-day story arc.
But when the film works, it really works. Ryan Reynolds really owns the character, and he’s perfect as Deadpool. The movie’s irreverence for the superhero genre carries though to one of the final scenes, where the film leads you to think it will take a certain course. I won’t spoil it, but if you’ve seen the movie you’ll know what I mean. That event definitely defined this as a Deadpool movie rather than just another Marvel hero film!
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