In Deadpool's first Marvel Comics storyline he got his butt whupped by the militant mutant team X-Force so badly that they literally boxed him up and shipped him away. Not the kind of start anyone would expect for what would turn out to be Marvel's most popular character and the star of their latest movie franchise, but then Deadpool isn't your typical superhero and his movie totally kicks your typical superhero movie's ass.
Deadpool has been my favorite Marvel character since his debut. When I purged my massive comic book collection years ago, some of the few issues I kept were Deadpool's earliest appearances and his brilliant limited series, 'The Circle Chase', which defined who the Merc-with-a-Mouth is today. Elements of that storyline are present in the gloriously R-rated and explosively funny movie, which stars Ryan Reynolds in the role he was born to play.
Reynolds, who showed a knack for playing irreverent superheroes in Blade: Trinity and a dire inability to do so in Green Lantern, is actually reprising the role of Deadpool from X-Men Origins: Wolverine, a film nobody wants to acknowledge even exists, and that goes for Deadpool director Tim Miller and writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, who take every opportunity to make fun of that awful movie whenever possible. But they also aren't shy about making fun of themselves and the entire genre of comic book films, beginning with a brilliant slow-motion credits sequence ("Produced by Asshats", Featuring "a Gratuitous Cameo") that shows off its sense of humor and over-the-top comic violence. The story is essentially one long joke wrapped around a lot of flashbacks, and if you were curious why so many of the teasers seemed to take place on that same stretch of road, it's because much of the story takes place there.
Deadpool, aka Wade Wilson, is cutting a bloody swath through a bunch of armed goons (which he easily dispatches in awesome, stylized fashion) in order to get to their leader, Ajax (Ed Skrein), and settle some grudge. We learn that underneath his red leather suit Deadpool is hideously scarred, a side effect of the brutal testing he underwent that gave him his powers. Testing performed by Ajax and his powerhouse right-hand-lady Angel Dust (Gina Carano), under the guise of curing his terminal cancer. Further flashbacks, in which Deadpool often breaks the fourth wall and talks directly to the audience, take us back to his happily psychotic relationship with Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), until the disease tears them apart.
While there have been other R-rated comic book movies and even superhero sex scenes (hello Watchmen!), none revel in it quite like Deadpool does. Anal sex, gratuitous, splattery violence, comic abuse of the deaf (Leslie Uggams plays Deadpool's blind "roommate" Blind Al), and multiple references to Deadpool's junk are all on the menu and it's exactly what fans of the character would want and more. We even get a look at the new X-Men continuity post X-Men: Days of Future Past as Deadpool trades punches and snarky one-liners with Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) and the disaffected Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) who play a much larger role in the film than expected. And if you think it's a little weird more X-Men aren't around, well Deadpool's noticed it, too.
Deadpool sprays jokes as rapidly as it sprays bullets, and while most of them hit the mark, there are a few dry spells. TJ Miller is perfectly cast as Deadpool's pal, Weasel, but their scenes together, which mainly consist of trading nasty insults, come across as forced. Wade's grim origin also proves to be a buzzkill that's a little tough to bounce back from as the film takes some sharp turns tonally. While the locales are pretty flat and unimpressive, Tim Miller proves his mettle with some truly creative action sequences, pumped up by a soundtrack that makes great use of WHAM!'s "Careless Whisper" and DMX's "X Gon' Give It To Ya".
Unafraid to rip the very genre it's now a part of, Deadpool is the ballsiest comic book movie any studio has dared attempt. Hopefully it will be rewarded with a big enough audience that this won't be the first and last time we see the infamous merc on the big screen.
Rating: 4 out of 5