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REVIEW: Deadpool (2016)

Written by Mark Russell

2016 is going to be a big year for superhero movies, and first out of the gate in a rocket-powered clown car blasting out “Merry-Go-Round Broken Down” is Deadpool, a comedy movie that has been ten years in the making and well worth the wait. Metaphor-wise, Deadpool is the equivalent of throwing a secret house party, getting drunk, and waking up in a bath tub covered in toilet cleaner two houses down the street! In other words – it is hilarious and awesome! Directed by Tim Miller and starring Ryan Reynolds reprising the role after the god-awful X-Men Origins: Wolverine but in a shiny new light, Deadpool is great fun, being a strange but welcome addition to the X-Men films and a great way to kick off the year.

Deadpool (played by Reynolds) appeared in X-Men Origins: Wolverine in 2009, but less said about that movie the better, insultingly sewing Deadpool’s mouth shut and had Wolverine chop his head off. No one took kindly to the beloved Merc With the Mouth being screwed up like that, so Reynolds and other likeminded individuals sought to do justice to Deadpool. After test footage was leaked online of Reynolds’ new take on Deadpool, the reception was unanimous and Fox immediately greenlit the movie. It looks like Fox actually turned a blind eye to the level of profanity and zaniness in the film, probably after the reaction and box office failure that was last year’s Fantastic Four. Reynolds, along with screenwriters Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese (who co-wrote Zombieland), clearly had a blast making this film and it shows.

The film is rated 18 in most countries and 15 here in the UK, and has adult humour, sexual themes, gory violence, and our main hero mouths off so much it would make Captain America knock himself out with Thor’s hammer. The clever, hilarious marketing made it clear this would be no family film. Deadpool is a very likeable character even if he is a foul-mouthed lunatic who splatters the guts of villains all over the highway. His constant bantering and comedy carries a lot of the film and made the packed theatre where I watched the film a real treat to be in.

Both in the film and behind-the-scenes, the comedy keeps on coming, like how Reynolds stole a Deadpool costume as compensation for the long time it took to green light the movie. The opening credits are some of the funniest I’ve ever seen, naming the cast members and crew through tropes, referring to the producers as a “bunch of asshats”, etc. The meta-humour works well, with numerous take thats to the film’s production, to Hugh Jackman, previous depictions of Deadpool and several gags around Green Lantern (Reynolds’ other superhero outing). Deadpool breaks the fourth wall throughout the film, mainly to break the ice and never feels out of place or intrusive. Ryan Reynolds clearly enjoyed spreading his wings and being allowed to finally portray Deadpool is a favourable light. There are some actors just destined to play comic book characters and he is amongst them.

Plot wise, the film doesn’t really have much differentiation from other superhero films, having an expected origin story that takes itself surprisingly seriously despite the constant comedy. Wade Wilson is a mercenary-turned-kinda-good samaritan who protects teenage girls from stalkers, and eventually meets Vanessa Carlysle (Morena Baccarin) whom he falls in love with. However, they happiness turns sour when Wade learns he has cancer. Rather than waste away, Wade takes up an offer to be cured via experimentation, only to discover it is a brutal inhumane operation held by humans-turned-mutants Francis “Ajax” Freeman (Ed Skrein) and Angel Dust (Gina Carano) to activate his dormant mutant genes via torture. Wade survives, but is physically deformed and seeking bloody vengeance, living in a crack house with a blind old lady named Blind Al (Leslie Uggams).

Deadpool is an anti-hero through and through, pursuing a life of revenge and restoring his normality, but still has enough heart to him to help out others and rescue others, though he has no interest in being a proper superhero or a member of the X-Men. Speaking of which, Deadpool gets pestered by Colossus (Stefan Kapicic), who acts as the shiny good hero of the piece, often spouting speeches about doing the right thing and not keen on fighting a woman. I was very pleased to see Colossus given an actual personality and something to do, rather than just be a silent background character.

He is accompanied by Negasonic Teenage Warhead, a young grumpy, snarky girl who won’t take the bait to Deadpool’s jokes, and while her screentime is limited, she is great fun, and it is nice to see obscure characters brought into the spotlight. T.J. Miller also has a supporting role as Deadpool’s friend Weasel. Nice to see him making more appearances in Marvel films after his role in Big Hero 6.

On the negative side, the villains are just boring. Ed Skrein does his best as Ajax but the character is literally credited as the British Villain, and claims his own mutation removed his ability to feel in every sense – aka, render him emotionless, sociopathic, and dull. Angel Dust doesn’t bring much to the table either, just being a generic thuggish henchwoman with super strength. Marvel has always had a problem making interesting villains in their movies, but X-Men has always managed to keep up the pace with characters like Magneto and Colonel Stryker.

Deadpool is a very fun movie, Reynolds is just excellent in the titular role, and the blend of comedy and drama blends surprisingly well despite all the constant fourth wall breaking. A sequel has already been announced, and as seen in the post-credits scene, we might be getting popular X-Men character Cable making his debut. Something tells me the success of Deadpool will not be squandered by Fox, and they’ll allow the filmmakers to do what they want without interference. As Deadpool would say: This film was maximum effort! Now let’s go get some chimichangas.

Have you seen Deadpool and what were your thoughts on it? Has the Merc With the Mouth finally gained authentic justice on the big screen? Sound off below or leave a message on our Twitter feed.

About the author

Mark Russell