Deadpool, much like its source material, is an irreverent, bloody, and riotous twist on the superhero genre - a must-see comic book movie experience.
A former member of the Special Forces, Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) works as a heavy for hire - taking down bad guys for a price. When Wilson meets local call girl, Vanessa Carlysle (Morena Baccarin), his life is forever changed and the pair enjoy a fairytale (albeit depraved) romance - until Wilson discovers that late-stage cancer has spread to his liver, lungs, prostate, and brain. Determined to prevent Vanessa from watching him wither away, Wilson agrees to undergo an experimental procedure - which he is told will cure his cancer by unlocking dormant mutant abilities.
Overseeing Wilson's procedure are Ajax (Ed Skrein) and Angel Dust (Gina Carano), former patients now tasked with creating superhuman slaves - at any cost (with no concern for the pain and suffering of their charges). After repeat failed attempts, Ajax resorts to desperate measures that succeed in tapping into his patient's latent superpowers but leave Wilson hideously disfigured by the process. Fearful of what Vanessa might think of his mutilated appearance, Wilson focuses on finding Ajax, in the hopes of forcing the sociopath to restore his former good looks - or, at the very least, watch the malevolent villain die a slow, painful death.
Following years in development hell, and an oft-ridiculed adaptation in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the Deadpool solo movie made it to the big screen - thanks to leaked studio test footage (featuring motion capture and voice work from Ryan Reynolds) that become one of the most buzzed-about topics at Comic-Con 2014. The footage, which was helmed by current Deadpool director Tim Miller and pulled directly from the script, was an unstoppable proof-of-concept. Fortunately, the final result is everything fans might have hoped after seeing the test reel: Deadpool, much like its source material, is an irreverent, bloody, and riotous twist on the superhero genre - a must-see comic book movie experience.
In a time when Hollywood studios are starting to move away from formulaic superhero origin stories, Deadpool writers Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese blend enough self-deprecating humor and winking genre-satire to shield the Regenerating Degenerate from standard origin movie tropes. Given Deadpool's penchant for breaking the fourth wall in print, the writers could have leaned on shallow pop-culture references and lazy gimmicks; yet, even with a foul-mouthed antihero in the center spotlight, Deadpool conveys a surprisingly emotional story. That isn't to say that drama trumps flippant comedy and slick fight sequences, as Deadpool is exactly what the film's red band trailers suggested, but casual viewers who are on the fence about Fox's R-Rated antihero might be surprised by how much heart the foul-mouthed character manages to convey.
The strength of Deadpool cannot be isolated to one factor alone (since the movie is packed with passionate direction, sharp writing, and exciting action choreography); nevertheless, Ryan Reynolds has been instrumental to the film's success (both on screen and behind the scenes). After several maligned comic book movie roles (Blade: Trinity, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Green Lantern, and R.I.P.D.), it's cathartic to see Reynolds shed (as well as poke fun at) past failures and take part in a film that revels in a quirky antihero - rather than aim for a broad audience with a muted Deadpool (forced through ready-made PG-13 comic book movie molding). Reynolds' enthusiasm for the opportunity, the character, the fans, and Miller's leadership is apparent in every scene - whether cracking wise, pausing in a tender moment, or splattering the floor with an enemy's blood.
Supporting roles aren't by-the-book outlines either. Each character is included for a specific purpose (beyond simply filling scenery) - mirroring key elements of Deadpool's personality, worldview, as well as enduring the titular character's physical and/or emotional abuse. In particular, where Ajax and Angel are mostly one-note bad guys for Deadpool to punch, Wilson's disdain for well-intentioned X-Men hero, Colossus (Stefan Kapičić), and his young trainee, Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), is an exceptionally funny gag (and dramatic conflict) that runs throughout the entire film.
Weasel (T.J. Miller) and Blind Al (Leslie Uggams) mostly react from the sidelines this round but limited roles for two well-known Deadpool sidekicks leave a lot of room for Morena Baccarin, in particular, to develop Wilson's loving (though equally sarcastic) partner, Vanessa Carlysle, into an empowered presence. Teased in the movie's satirical romance trailers, Deadpool is a story of love - and the relationship between Wilson and Carlysle presents one of the more developed and "authentic" relationships in the superhero genre thus far - ensuring viewers will become involved in Deadpool as a human being, not just as a costumed killer of bad guys.
That said, while Deadpool succeeds as a clever change of pace in the superhero movie genre, Miller and his writers also serve-up plenty of fourth wall-breaking mayhem for longtime Deadpool lovers. Simply put: there are a lot of clever easter eggs, pop culture references, and meta-gags to enjoy - all supported by a film that, like its comic book source material, endeavors to be a response to, rather than a copy of, the superhero genre. Still, mutant abilities aren't wasted as Ajax, Angel, Colossus, and Negasonic Teenage Warhead all get to showoff their powers - and Deadpool's speedy parkour-like sword and gunplay, as well as the Merc's infamous mouth, are given ample time to shine, kill, and offend. For some viewers, certain jokes will be too crude and sophomoric to enjoy at face-value but, even when Deadpool crosses the line, the shock (and juxtaposition with traditionally "noble" hero characters) is, itself, an intriguing reward.
NOTE: Deadpool is playing as a premium ticket in IMAX theaters - and there's no question the film will be enhanced by a bigger screen and superior sound. Although, unlike some IMAX Experience releases, there's nothing inherently different about the upgraded version. Viewers who are all-in for Deadpool shouldn't hesitate to invest in a higher price ticket but there's little reason for casual viewers to go out of their way for an IMAX viewing.
Deadpool embraces its R-rating with audacious abandon - as both an opportunity to revel in the Marvel antihero's irreverence and as a way to differentiate Deadpool, as a film property, from an increasingly crowded PG-13 comic book movie schedule. Whether or not Hollywood (or even moviegoers) embrace Deadpool, the film is a rich (and laugh-out-loud funny) experience for fans in this moment - after a hard-fought battle to the big screen. It won't be for everyone, especially sensitive viewers expecting Marvel and Fox to play it safe, but in doubling-down on his vision, Tim Miller has delivered a Deadpool adaptation that, at the absolute least, introduces audiences to the real Merc with a Mouth - rather than the unrecognizable Merc without a Mouth from X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
Deadpool runs 108 minutes and is Rated R for strong violence and language throughout, sexual content and graphic nudity. Now playing in regular and IMAX theaters.
Let us know what you thought of the film in the comment section below. If you’ve seen the movie and want to discuss details about the film without worrying about spoiling it for those who haven’t seen it, please head over to our Deadpool Spoilers Discussion. Want to talk about the post-credits scene? We've got a place to do that too!
Still can't get enough Deadpool? Listen to the Screen Rant editors discuss the film on the first episode of our new Total Geekall podcast.