Like millions of other people, the Mysterious Mr. C and I had tickets to go see Deadpool on its opening day, but a pair of nasty head colds prevented us from checking it out until this past Saturday. (Quick shout-out to Fandango since I had no idea that you could turn in your tickets for refunds/credits, and it was a huge relief to not have to waste the money we had already spent!). And while I think we both would have loved seeing it when it premiered, the wait was definitely worth it!
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Marvel’s “merc with a mouth” (whose license happens to be owned by 20th Century Fox), Deadpool is the alter ego of Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds), a man who, in his words, is “a bad guy who gets paid to fuck up worse guys.” After receiving a pretty serious cancer diagnosis, Wade is approached by a man who presents him with an opportunity to cure his cancer, and potentially gain some superhuman traits. Of course, things are not all that they seem and though Wade’s genetic mutations leave him with superhuman agility and a ridiculous ability to heal, he is physically disfigured during the process.
Since Wade tried this experimental “medicine” to save his life – so he could marry his prostitute girlfriend Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), natch – he proceeds to go after the man in charge of the facility, a mutant self-named Ajax (legal name: Francis – Ed Skrein). Along the way, he is thwarted by a pair of obscure X-Men, a metallic giant known as Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) and a moody girl called Negasonic Teenage Warhead (coolest name ever! – Brianna Hildebrand), who are trying to recruit him for Professor X’s team. Once Ajax kidnaps Vanessa, Wade strong-arms the duo into helping him get her back since they interrupted his quest for revenge in the first place.
But while that above description may make it seem like there is a lot of set-up to get through before the action sequences, Deadpool is probably the most fleet-footed superhero (anti-hero?) film I’ve seen in years. Much of that is likely thanks to the writing of Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, mentioned in the credits as “the real heroes here,” but the movie’s pacing is also aided by the use of flashbacks and Wade’s consistent breaking of the fourth wall (there’s even a fourth-wall break within a fourth-wall break).
Undeniably though, the real star of the show is Reynolds as the titular mercenary. Indeed, it is hard to imagine anyone else who could play Wade with such verve.
Reynolds, who has been working for over a decade to get this film made, first portrayed Wade in the film X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Unfortunately, the costuming/make-up of that Deadpool was a little misguided – for some reason, they sewed the merc’s mouth shut – and this film serves as an apology of sorts. As the Washington Post’s Michael O’Sullivan writes, the film is “[b]latantly, buoyantly vulgar and jam-packed with conspicuously perverse, often bloody violence.” It also doesn’t take itself nearly as seriously as some of the other big-budget superhero flicks to hit the silver screen lately and mocks not only those competitors and Reynolds’ widely panned turn as the Green Lantern, but also the Hollywood studio system itself.
The result is a refreshing taken on the genre, which will be in full force this year with upcoming sequels to the Batman/Superman, Captain America, and Star Trek franchises, just to name a few. As such, it is no surprise that Deadpool is well on its way to becoming the top grossing R-rated film in history globally.
The other thing that I loved about Deadpool was how accessible it was – though I still don’t think all of the under 10s who were in the audience should have been there. Yes, like any superhero film these days, there were an insane amount of Easter eggs, but as someone who isn’t all that familiar with Deadpool’s comic book beginnings, I can tell you that the film is just as enjoyable without picking all of them up. Which again is a nice change of pace from some of the more recent entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
And ultimately, that’s the beauty and joy of Deadpool: It doesn’t try to be anything more than it is, which is simply a really great time and money very well spent.