Riddled with cancer and a desire to do right by the love of his life, Wade Wilson agrees to undergo a secretive treatment that gives him useful regenerative powers, but brings not-so-handy disfigurement.
Director: Tim Miller
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, T. J. Miller, Gina Carano, Brianna Hildebrand, Stefan Kapičić
Run Time: 108 Minutes
Release Date: 12 February (US)/Out Now (UK)
There are personal passion projects, and then there is Deadpool. After 11 years of script rewrites, studio rejections, rating disputes and anything else than can possibly be thrown in its way, Wade Wilson’s controversial, foul-mouthed violent alter ego finally gets the big-screen outing it deserves. Following the character’s disappointing appearance in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, fans worldwide consigned themselves to the fact that in today’s PG and 12A superhero world, there just wasn’t a place for the Merc with a Mouth.
Until some conveniently-timed test footage made it’s way on to the internet, that is.
We can discuss the source of the leaked footage til the proverbial cows come home, what is important is that the worldwide reaction led 20th Century Fox to make the call we wanted; no longer a supporting character, stifled by bizarre creative decisions (again, who the hell thought it was smart to sew his damn mouth shut?), Deadpool was now to get his own movie.
One thing that immediately impresses is the decision by first-time director Miller to forego the usual origin story path that so many superhero movies travel down; we meet Wade Wilson already under the famous red mask, before flashback scenes fill in the origin gaps. This method sidesteps the common issue of having the first part of a movie without the main hero, and given the explanation already offered in the trailers, Deadpool doesn’t need to spend a large chunk of time with the buildup before delivering the (anti) hero. Another benefit of Miller’s chosen method of storytelling is that it acts as a way of breaking down the action when things need to take a breather. Reynolds is astounding as the distraught Wilson, dealing with the heartbreaking reality of impending death and the offer of a chance to survive. It is obvious that he has been waiting to make this movie since Origins: Wolverine, and having finally got it, he was not going to let another chance go. It may be his best performance yet, seamlessly switching from serious and dramatic to comedic and acerbic.
One concern that many fans had heading into this was how the character would be handled; fourth wall-breaking, intense violence, and profanity aren’t the easiest things to pitch to studios, but to their credit Fox appear to have stepped aside and let Miller and Reynolds present this the way it had to be. The audience is spoken to, while the meta humour is in abundance (a couple of lines about a certain wheelchair-bound professor and a potential reason for the lack of X-Men in this movie are hilarious). Also impressive is the action; that test footage responsible for this whole thing even happening is used in almost it’s entirety, playing out in a great slow-motion sequence topped off with some great wisecracks that act as the perfect introduction to the film, and indeed the character. After eight years of superhero movies falling within the accepted structure that hovers around family-friendly, Deadpool takes great pleasure in not having to conform to the usual standards. The sex montages, the loose language and the 15-rated (or R, for American audiences) violence. Sure, we wouldn’t want every superhero outing to start taking this approach, but it makes for a great alternative to the norm. With Marvel and DC’s upcoming outings firmly planted in the 12A category, it makes for a nice change to have something so decidedly adult.
The movie’s (by comparison) minuscule budget means a smaller cast, which in this case works out to the film’s advantage. Baccarin is a great foil for Reynolds, and their chemistry shines throughout. A word also for newcomer Brianna Hildebrand as trainee X-Man Negasonic Teenage Warhead (and it is a great name), who hits all the angsty teenage girl marks, while T.J. Miller’s Weasel is hilariously un-PC with some of his lines, especially his immediate reaction to seeing Wilson’s scarred face for the first time. On the other side of things, Skrein puts his all into Ajax but a script lacking in firm development for the big bad lets things down somewhat. Equally, Angel Dust is rather one-dimensional and not given more to do, though her ‘mini boss’ role does lead to a physical third-act confrontation with a CGI Colossus. The inclusion of Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead keep that important X-Men presence in the movie, keeping those franchise-building doors open for future possibilities.
Deadpool is definitely not for everyone. Not all the gags work, and some will go over the head of UK viewers not accustomed to everything American, while others may tire of the level of humour, though realistically anyone going to see this film will go in knowing exactly what to expect. This is truly everything a Deadpool movie should be, with Reynolds the only person capable of bringing this character to the big-screen. Suitably insane, genuinely funny and surprisingly heartwarming to boot, this is what we’ve been waiting for.
Deadpool has arrived, and a new hero has been born.