In the early summer of 2009, director Gavin Wood brought the latest installment in the X-Men film franchise to the world, X-Men Origins: Wolverine. As part of the film involved a look at Weapon X and Wolverine’s infamous run in with them, it’s no surprise that Weapon X’s second most famous patient Wade Wilson, played by Ryan Reynolds, made an appearance. Wade Wilson is where that specific appearance ended, though. While the character went on to become a “Dead pool of superpowers” from Weapon X, this is where the similarities to the comic book character ended. The character went from being a mouthy merc with deadly skills to match, to a serious and deadly killing machine with his mouth sewn shut. Deadpool fans worldwide were rightfully disappointed by this portrayal of their favorite Marvel character, and it would be the only silver-screen portrayal we’d get for seven long years.
Despite the backlash to the character, Reynolds didn’t give up. From the moment Origins was released, he continued to work on a solo Deadpool project out of his love for the character, and after eleven total years of work, stress, internet leaks, and a massively successful ad campaign, we finally have a proper Deadpool film that delivers the experience fans have been waiting for.
The basic plotline for Deadpool is as follows: After being diagnosed with terminal cancer, mercenary Wade Wilson agrees to undergo an experimental procedure to give him a superhuman healing factor in an attempt to cure the cancer, so that he may live a long, normal life with his new fiancé, Vanessa. After the treatment disfigures him and the surgeon who experimented on him, Ajax (or Francis, as Deadpool lovingly reminds us is his real name), tries to kill him unaware of how advanced his healing factor is. Once he rises from the ashes of his grave, he sets off on his quest to hunt down Ajax and cure his disfigurement, so that he can feel worthy enough to be with Vanessa once again. Along the way he’s helped by the X-Men Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (the coolest name EVER), teaching him a bit about teamwork along the way.
Right off the bat, this film goes for the laughs, opening with one of the funniest and original credit sequences I’ve ever seen, which serves not only to grab a laugh or two from the audience, but also to foreshadow the epic freeway battle that unfolds mere minutes later. From the moment Deadpool is first on screen, you can tell it’s a completely different character from the X-Men Origins abomination from 2009. He’s funny, yet lethal. Intelligent, yet a smartass. Cares about nothing but accomplishing his own goals, yet has a soft spot that very few get to witness. In short, this is the Deadpool fans have been waiting for.
As a comedy, the film holds nothing back. Deadpool is known for breaking the fourth wall in his various forms of media, and this film plays with that creatively, yet tastefully; None of the fourth wall gags seemed forced or took away from the story, which was a fine line that the film needed to walk with this type of humor. Outside of fourth wall humor, the film did a tremendous job. From an increasingly ridiculous sex montage between Vanessa and Wade, to a barrage of insults about Wade’s disfigurement from his friend Weasel, to even just every single fight scene, this is a film that knows what the fans want; over the top action juxtaposed with witty, dark humor along the way. And from that standpoint, this film succeeds immensely.
It doesn’t just go for all laughs however; one of the lesser known aspects about Deadpool’s character is the dark past associated with the character, a past which is touched upon in the form of flashbacks throughout the first act of the film. The disfigurement from his experimentation goes far beyond the physical deformities. It affected his mind, making him unstable and prone to violent outrages, as well as clinically insane. His once sarcastic form of humor turned sadistic, and was used as a coping mechanism for the scars and traumas he experienced daily; This was touched on very well in the film, and I’m incredibly glad it was. It made the character that much more empathetic, as well as making fans happy that it isn’t just the wacky and random Deadpool so common on the internet, or “Memepool” as he’s been dubbed by some.
Contrary to what some fans may have you think, Deadpool wasn’t the ONLY character to be featured in the film. He was certainly the driving force as well as the most interesting character, but just about every character is done well here. Ed Skrein’s portrayal of Ajax did seem a bit one dimensional at times, but the way he and Reynolds worked together on screen made up for that in my mind. Morena Baccarin, as Deadpool’s lover Vanessa, was just as insane and messed up as Reynolds’ Deadpool, leading to one of the most adorably disturbing on screen romances in recent memory. Colossus and Warhead added needed morality to the film, and also served to make the world simply feel bigger by adding in the idea of the X-Men being present.
In my mind, however, T.J. Miller and Leslie Uggams absolutely killed it as Deadpool’s friends and sidekicks, Weasel and Blind Al. Miller and Reynolds have excellent chemistry on set no matter what scene they’re in, and Uggams stands out in her own way by bringing life to this often-overlooked stable of Deadpool’s past. Both characters have been all but forgotten in recent comic book iterations, and it’s my hope that these fantastic performances will only bring more credit to the characters, and maybe even bring them back to the limelight in comic form.
Despite how much I clearly loved this movie, the film does have some flaws as all films do. As I mentioned Ajax as a villain seems very one-dimensional and without purpose whenever he’s on screen alone. This is a minor gripe, but it did leave me wanting for a bit more out of Skrein for the character. Additionally, a lot of the jokes did serve to be mostly fan-service and a clear “wink-and-nod” for the fans to understand that this is the film they’ve wanted. While I personally enjoyed this as a Deadpool fan, it doesn’t leave much room for outside audiences, and those who aren’t big fans of Deadpool may feel like they’re missing the joke during these scenes. Despite these flaws, however, I don’t feel that they detract from the overall experience that the film is able to give.
My final thoughts from Deadpool involve its status as a superhero film. Specifically, how it’s changed the game. In a cinematic world ran by Marvel Studio’s MCU, it can be hard for a new superhero property to break the mold and get noticed. Deadpool did just that, and on a smaller budget than most films of its genre in recent history. Not only has the film proven how viable non-franchised heroes can be in this world of cinematic universes, but it’s broken the traditional formula behind superhero films as a whole by giving us something new, and someone who plays by his own rules.
Overall, I’m giving Deadpool 5/5 stars. It’s the film the fans have wanted, that for the most part leaves itself open for anyone whose interested to take a look and enjoy. Even if you’re not a fan of the usual superhero story, I’d say check it out. If the heart-wrenching ballad of Wade Wilson doesn’t get to you, the over the top action and theater rumbling comedy just might.