I can guarantee you that you have seen no superhero movie quite like “Deadpool.” The structure is a little too loose and “4th wall” breaking to be on the same level of the best the genre has to offer, but the absurdist, vulgar pleasures of Tim Miller’s movie featuring Marvel’s Merc with the Mouth cannot be overstated. At the center of it all, we have Ryan Reynolds having the time of his life playing the most irreverent comic book character since Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man hit screens. Wade Wilson goes beyond Tony Stark, though; Wade Wilson is the type of character you probably couldn’t stand to be around for more than a few minutes before you wanted to slug him in the mouth. Unfortunately, that wouldn’t do too much damage, though, and let’s face it, it’d only egg him on even more to ramp up the sarcasm. I love that about him.
The only time we’ve seen Deadpool on-screen prior to this film was in the much-lambasted “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” where Ryan Reynolds also played him as part of the Weapon X project that turned Wolverine into the mutant he is today. Most people hate that film; I liked it, but to be fair, I also haven’t seen it since it first hit theatres, so my opinion could change with another viewing. What people agree about across the line is that Deadpool was bastardized in a way that rivaled “Batman & Robin” and “Catwoman” in cinematic superhero ineptitude. Reynolds has been wanting another shot at the character ever since, and with the rejuvenation of the franchise after “X-Men: First Class” and “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” somehow, Fox relented, and have let him, director Miller, and screenwriters Rhett Rheese and Paul Wernick take the character as far into his R-rated glory as possible. This is not family safe superhero fun, but the most outrageously violent and vulgar superhero movie of all-time. That is who Deadpool is, and what he deserves. Parents- don’t take your kids to this unless you want to answer some truly awkward questions.
Though the film moves back and forth in time a lot, the gist of the story is this- Wade Wilson is a former Special Forces operative turned mercenary who will take any job that pays, even if it’s just scaring a stalker straight for a high school kid. It’s not glamorous work, but it goes well, and it leads him to meet Vanessa (Morena Baccarin from “Firefly” and “Homeland,” who makes a great foil for Reynolds here), a hooker whose life is almost as messed up as Wade’s is. The hook up, and fall in love in one of the most wonderful romantic montages in any movie (if you don’t agree, grow a sack- it’s fun). Things are going great until Wade finds out he has cancer throughout his body. One day, Wade is confronted by an odd-looking man in a suit who says he and the people he represents can fix Wade’s cancer, and turn him into something extraordinary. Originally, Wade says no, but he eventually relents after seeing what this is doing to Vanessa. Unfortunately, this isn’t a simple medical procedure that’s being sold, but a torturous attempt to unlock a mutation in Wade that will allow him to heal quickly, as well as turn him into a lethal killer. Headed by Ajax (Ed Skrein), the experimentation turns Wade’s outside into hamburger meat, making the prospects of returning to Vanessa awkward, but it drives him to take revenge on Ajax for what he has done to him. That’s it; no end of the world or larger threat other than vengeance and violence. Lots of violence.
I think the best thing about Deadpool, both the character and the movie, is how amoral he comes off. He has no quarrel with chopping bad guys into sliced meat or telling a cab driver (Karan Soni) to do ANYTHING he needs to do to get his girl back, although he does bring up some legitimate in-fight concerns about violence towards women (is it more sexist to fight them if he needs to, or to feel guilty about doing so?). The running commentary Deadpool brings to this story in the telling is wickedly funny and deliciously subversive- you’ve heard of the narrative device of the “unreliable narrator?” Deadpool is not only very reliable, but also a little too “TMI” at times. Still, you gotta love how he is beholden to no one in his quest for justice, even when mutants Collossus (Stefan Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) arrive on the scene to try and get him to listen to reason. (Sorry, crossover fans: no other X-Men make the cut in this film, and don’t think Deadpool doesn’t notice. Still, these two are more than enough fun, especially when they go up against Gina Carano’s Angel Dust.) Deadpool is the complete opposite from Wolverine in temperament, and just as compelling to watch; maybe instead of another reboot of the X-Men proper, Fox should just make solo Deadpool and Wolverine movies until the end of time and let the other mutants cameo occasionally (although that’s less interesting now that Hugh Jackman’s end with Wolverine is near). The best thing about “Deadpool” is that it eschews the conventions of the superhero origin story for something considerably looser and more interesting while also filling the responsibilities of an origin story in explaining a character. There’s not much to tell, really, but it’s a wild amount of fun to see it unfold. Thankfully, “Deadpool 2” is already in development, and if you wait til the end of the credits, maybe we get to find out some tidbits of what’s to come. That is, if you can stand to see Deadpool in a bathrobe.