After an unspeakably awful appearance (both literally and figuratively) in the first Wolverine movie, in which his character’s mouth was sewn shut, Ryan Reynolds takes another stab at Marvel’s “Merc With A Mouth” Deadpool – this time with said mouth. A mouth which drives this expletive filled and ultra-violent superhero movie.
Set within the same universe as the X-Men franchise, Deadpool charts Wade Wilson’s quest to save his girlfriend and get revenge on those who have gave him super healing powers which also left him with a face not even a mother could love. However, this superhero doesn’t share the earnest and sincere sensibilities of his other fellow Lycra clad heroes. No, this superhero is happier cracking jokes squarely aimed at those at an adolescent audience, turning goons into shish kebabs and breaking the fourth wall. The protagonist’s anarchic sensibility is carried throughout the whole film to such an extent you get the sense that if the movie makers were in the audience they would be smirking at themselves.
This anarchic sensibility is hard to dislike, as Deadpool sends up the superhero movie, cracking gags at every opportunity and even breaking the fourth wall within a fourth wall break – which is handily pointed out to the audience as “like 16 walls.” Even the titles poke fun at the genre, with credits such as “A British Villain” and referring to the director as an “Overpaid Tool.” It’s a barrage of blatantly obscene, lurid and extremely violent content that doesn’t even let up with in the credits.
This is a smart move by the movie makers as the barrage of frat boy jokes and decapitations hide what is essentially a pretty standard superhero origin story. The movie’s structure helps conceal this fact too, as it starts with Wade Wilson already costumed up as Deadpool on his way to exact his particular type of painful revenge. It then cleverly inter-cuts flashbacks explaining how Wade Wilson went from Mr Attractive to a disfigured Lycra wearing avenger. It enables the movie to jump into the action, whilst also filling out the back story that many other superhero origin stories can often drown in.
But when you look closer, it also hides the fact that the plot of this film is wafer thin and involves little more than a fight, a kidnap and a rescue. It may have fun whilst doing it, especially throwing in meta-humour that sends up superhero movies as Deadpool get’s confused as to what Professor Xavier he will be dragged off too – James McAvoy or Patrick Stewart – but there’s always the sense that it never full escapes it’s superhero trappings.
For example, Ed Skrein’s villain Ajax is more an overpowered goon than a full on world conquering mastermind and feels merely planted in the movie to further forward Ryan Reynold’s quest for revenge. Also, the movie’s climax follows the same everything explodes around the hero until all the bad people are defeated routine that has become the rule of the day in the genre. Therefore, the movie’s unwavering knowingness and no care attitude doesn’t quite reach the core of the film, which lacks some of the pizazz of say a film like Matthew Vaughn’s Kick Ass, which had far more fun with it’s plot and characters.
Despite this, some other superhero troupes work better, especially the cameos from teenage tweeter Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) and fully fledged X-Man Colossus (Stefan Kapičić) who prove to be stoic foils for Deadpool’s brand of anarchic vigilante justice. They also happen to be the only X-Men the budget could afford, which the film knowingly points out, although there are some moments where the smaller budget is more apparent in the action sequences, which are occasionally overripe with digital effects.
Thus, the movie is really carried by Ryan Reynolds’ performance as Deadpool, which cannot be faulted. Any fan of the comic book would say he perfectly embodies Marvel’s “Merc With A Mouth” which has been cleverly exploited in the movie’s marketing. Reynolds was born to play this part and there probably hasn’t been such a perfect pairing of superhero and actor since Robert Downey Jr donned his goatee for Tony Stark. However, Deadpool’s source of wit (if you can even call it that) is far cruder than anything Tony Start would say, with more references to male alone time with certain appendages than I care to remember in a movie. The audience I saw the movie with lapped it up, but by the end of the movie there was a certain sense of fatigue that started to creep in. Whether this barrage of blue humour can hold up for repeated viewings or even the already announced sequel is debatable, but the anarchic sense of immaturity was hard to dislike.