Movies · Reviews

Deadpool Is the Silly, Sexy, Sticky, and Sweet Superhero Adventure You’ve Been Waiting For

By  · Published on February 7th, 2016

20th Century Fox

One of the hallmarks of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been their adherence to McDonald’s stance on keeping things similar – it doesn’t matter which of the Marvel films you settle in for, it’s going to feel familiar. That’s not a knock either as heroes as disparate as the Hulk and Thor manage to be unique while still feeling as if they can and do exist in the same world with the same tone. It’s a fun world with action, humor, and personality, but you’d be hard-pressed to argue against the idea that it’s maybe just a bit sanitized too.

Deadpool, by contrast, is a 20th Century Fox property and therefore not part of the MCU, but it still exists in a fun world with action, humor, and personality… and f-bombs, bloody gore, nudity, and graphic violence. And all of it comes courtesy of Marvel’s newest – and most entertaining, bad-ass, and deliciously batshit-crazy – cinematic superhero. You know it’s an official Fox/Marvel entry because they’re allowed to say “mutants.” You know it’s Deadpool because they’re referred to as “fucking mutants.”

Deadpool, aka Wade Wilson, (Ryan Reynolds) narrates his own origin story by way of multiple fourth wall breaks, and we first meet him en route to a carnage-filled act of vengeance. We move between his present quest for revenge and the events of the past that led to his current situation. Core to his tale is Wade’s love, Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), a woman who’s every bit as goofy, odd, and dirty-minded as he is, but after many months of holiday-themed fornication (you will never listen to “Calendar Girl” without smiling again) the pair are devastated to learn that Wade is dying from inoperable cancer. Desperate for a chance, he agrees to a radical experiment that ultimately leaves his body cured, indestructible, and resembling an old man’s bruised left testicle. So now you know why he’s out for revenge.

As origin stories go this one’s pretty simple, and it works to the film’s benefit. Writers (and “the real heroes”) Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick (Zombieland) keep the villains strictly small fry – they still put up a fight, but they never threaten to overwhelm Deadpool or the film itself. Ajax (Ed Skrein) and Angel Dust (Gina Carano) are generic while still being an engaging-enough obstacle for our heroes to overcome.

The plot is perfectly simple, but director Tim Miller makes a memorable feature debut turning what could have been a one-note romp into a live-action, R-rated Looney Tunes adventure that rarely takes time to breathe. The action is a stylized barrage of stunts, CG, and gunplay – and one or two beheadings – occasionally slowed to a crawl to allow Deadpool to address the camera and crack wise or flash us back earlier in the story.

His jokes, and Reynolds delivery, represent the biggest challenges for viewers. If goofy, crass, sarcastic gags aren’t your thing – and if Reynolds turned up to 11 on the wise-ass dick dial grates your nerves – then you are out of luck here. They’re not just single elements of the film. They are near constants, and you’re either fully on board with it all or you’re going to be despising almost all of the film’s 108 minutes.

The comedy is a mix of insults, visual gags, jokes, and meta knocks on Reynolds’ own past experience with comic book movies and on Deadpool’s previous screen misfire – a brief shot of an X-Men Origins: Wolverine action figure gets its point across. Several bits lean topical, a factor destined to affect its longevity, but more than enough remains to keep viewers laughing through repeat viewings and hoping for a sequel.

The exception to the onslaught of comedy and violence comes in the early scenes between Wade and Vanessa. The pair are sexy and crazy in love, and their wild chemistry is instantly endearing. It’s also no throwaway relationship – the duo and the sweaty and sweet affection afforded them makes Deadpool the most romantic Marvel film since Steve Rogers first wooed Peggy Carter. That’s no small thing either. It ups the stakes, adds a strap-on, and makes viewers care beyond the next quip or stabbing.

Even after seeing Deadpool succeed in his own film the idea of fitting him into the existing Marvel universe still seems daunting, whether it be in an upcoming Fox X-Men film or as a cameo in an actual MCU movie. (Hey, it could happen… remember when Spider-Man was purely Sony and could *never* possibly meet the Avengers?) He seems destined for a cameo at best though where he spends two minutes having his vocabulary choices constantly interrupted by Cyclops or Black Widow. It would be worth it though just to see him interact with Wolverine as his mockery here of Hugh Jackman’s iconic character is priceless.

Deadpool is a smart-ass take-down of superhero films while still being its own superhero film, and while the action is solid the film is unapologetic in its deference to laughs. Everything and everyone is fair game, and no target is too lowbrow. He may not be your father’s superhero, but he’s also not your son’s or daughter’s. He’s yours. And he’s ready to be loved. (Although he’ll probably settle for a reach-around.)

The Upside: Very funny; terrifically crass and playful; fun action beats; best Marvel romance since Captain America; opening and closing credits entertain; fully embraces its character and R-rating; Morena Baccarin

The Downside: Specific humor style is constant so if you don’t like it the whole movie is shot for you

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Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.