Stuck in development hell for the best part of fifteen years, Deadpool finally arrives on screen with the reputation of being the archest comic book adaptation to date, and perhaps the most offensive superhero film since Kick-Ass (unless you count this one, for very different reasons). The popular, wisecracking, spandex-clad character not only ridicules fellow Marvel heroes during this debut cinematic outing but also the actors who play those characters, the studio that made this and several other recent superhero movies (20th Century Fox, handlers of the X-Men franchise) and most of the numerous tropes usually found within them. Star Ryan Reynolds even admits his own career has been propelled by looks rather than acting ability during one scene, and repeatedly breaks the fourth wall to the point that there is no fourth wall left to break. So, it’s a film with dozens of knowing asides, suggesting confidence in the audience’s cine-literacy (to a point), which have to fight to be heard amidst the cacophany of profanities and dick jokes. It’s crass, bloody, reasonably offensive and on occasion quite funny: the teenagers in my local cinema lapped it up, and though they’re the target audience, rather than me, I can’t say I didn’t laugh along with them at times.
The titular antihero was initially created as a kind of in-joke for comic fans – both the costume and Deadpool’s alter-ego, Wade Wilson, referenced rival DC Comics mercenary Deathstroke, aka Slade Wilson – so in that respect this origin story is perfectly suited to the meta treatment, but unfortunately Miller et al struggle to create a story free of the clichés they are so painfully aware of. For all the effort made to let the audience know they’re watching something different, and to distance Deadpool from the pack, the plot is every bit as hackneyed as usual, and by now anyone who has seen more than two modern supherhero films will no doubt be completely familiar with it. That said, I’ve spent three years on this blog repeatedly moaning about how all Marvel films are essentially the same, so I suppose I should be happy that one has finally been made where the air is turned blue and the star is referred to during the opening credits as ‘God’s Perfect Idiot’. It’s immature, it’s completely disposable and it looks cheap, but the writers’ willingness to have the lead character recognise this is fun, as is his snarky, foul-mouthed onslaught. At the very least Deadpool is intriguing as a blockbuster outlier.
Directed by: Tim Miller.
Written by: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick.
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, TJ Miller, Gina Carano, Brianna Hildebrand, Stefan Kapičić.
Cinematography: Ken Seng.
Editing: Julian Clarke.
Music: Tom Holkenborg.
Running Time: 108 minutes.