Deadpool is fun, it’s not perfect, it’s not clever and it’s not ground breaking cinema but it’s a huge breath of fresh air and a truly enjoyable experience for anyone who has flirted with superhero movies in the last few decades. Ryan Reynolds and Tim Miller have combined to create a love letter to one of the most outlandish characters in the Marvel universe. A quick synopsis for those who don’t know, this is an origin story/revenge tale/romance that surrounds Deadpool, a mercenary who is turned into a quick healing, mutated superhuman after he is diagnosed with cancer and is forced to take part in a shady operation to save his life. Having been hideously disfigured, Deadpool (also known as Wade Wilson) hides away from the love of his life, Vanessa while hunting down the man responsible for his condition, Ajax. Not a hugely detailed plot in this one, but that’s not why we turned up.
Deadpool is rated R, it’s rated R because it contains excessive violence, foul and creative language and some occasional nudity and adult themes. Luckily the R rating is used by the film to full effect, blowing the cobwebs out of our superhero fatigued brains with constant quick quips from the ‘Merc with a Mouth’ as well as a healthy dose of 4th wall breaks used to satirise the genre, develop plot in no subtle way and just for pure comedy. Where other comedies fall flat as they deliver set-up and punchline ad nausea (see Zoolander 2), Deadpool escalates its humour, deciding to turn left when we expect them to go right, throwing in an extra visual gag or playing with the frame to comedic effect. The opening credits are a slow motion single cut which layers constant visual gags, amusing soundtrack, pop culture references and inventive title cards, giving you a clear indication off the bat where the film intends to focus its comedic styling.
The film isn’t perfect, it’s not the action packed story of a Mad Max or the story depth of a Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It’s closer to a Kingsman: The Secret Service, a film that doesn’t look to take itself seriously and takes a flashy modern angle on a now dated and worn genre. Like Kingsman, much of the violence is graphic, limbs flying off and unexpected splats as well as the occasional bit of torture, all of which just help the humour hit harder, your unease in your seat alleviated by the opportunity to laugh away your tension. The violence never reaches unacceptable levels but is enough to let you know that the director and writers knew they had some freedom from studio control here.
Deadpool falls down occasionally as the plot looks to drag, the predictability of the plot took away some of the suspense and immersion into the film, but at this point it was always going to be a struggle to present an origins story in a truly new way. Much of the self referential humour helps to sin what the audience predicted in advance. The love story in the film worked surprisingly well, my investment in the couple was real and I feared for the safety of one while rooting for the other, not something Marvel or DC seem to be able to do amongst their flexing and hero shots.
There is so much to like here. It is a fun experience that left me grinning from ear to ear from start to finish and well after it ended. It is the antidote to superhero fatigue and with the character they have established here, an injection of Deadpool in sequels or cross overs is tantalising to consider. Best Film or Actor awards are highly unlikely here but the audiences hearts and minds are guaranteed.