With each year, the rising tide of superhero films gets higher and higher as their lucrative nature is too much for studio heads to resist. And it shows no signs of slowing down with Marvel’s Cinematic Universe constantly expanding, DC trying to find sturdy ground to build their Justice League movies and Fox refusing to be forgotten with regular X-Men releases. There is a clear saturation in the market, and superhero films need to start differentiating themselves to maintain audience interest.
Well, Deadpool is nothing if not different. You won’t find the usual comic book movie tropes in this latest R-rated addition to the X-Men universe as Ryan Reynolds finally brings redemption to a character that was soiled in the god awful X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Deadpool tells the story of Wade Wilson as he is transformed from a smart mouth, cancer ridden mercenary to a smart mouth, disfigured, unstoppable mutant by an off the books government experiment. Wilson must adopt his Deadpool alter ego to track down those responsible for his disfigurement and force them to cure him.
The story is relatively weak, and skinny on plot with regards to its main conflict in the present. There are jumps back in time to show Deadpool’s origin that help to bulk up the film but the narrative is a straightforward revenge flick that pits Wade Wilson against a cleaning product inspired British villain. That’s fine. The story is just there to facilitate the character of Deadpool himself, in a way that gives us the best jokes, most violence and funniest pot shots at the superhero genre in general, because the main attraction of the film is Ryan Reynold’s Deadpool.
It is quite possibly the most faithful adaption of a comic book character to the big screen to date, with the writers and Ryan Reynolds nailing his fourth-wall breaking, chimichanga loving, psychopathic tendencies. Reynolds is clearly having a blast in the role that is 11 years in the making, as he skips gleefully through a battlefield that he single handedly created, throwing a big middle finger up to the usual superhero clichés. The characterisation of Deadpool is easily the best aspect of the film, and watching him bounce off all the cast is an absolute joy to behold.
However, it could be argued that Deadpool is a victim of his own success, as the character is so fun and entertaining to watch that when we jump back to pre transformation Wade Wilson, the film slows down as it dutifully goes through the well-worn steps of an origin story. I was itching to fast forward through these sections and get back to the present day, and witness a fully realized Deadpool in action. I realise that these jumps back in time are necessary to fleshing out Deadpool’s motivations and supporting cast, which are definitely entertaining in their own right, I just wanted to spend as much time as possible with present day Wade Wilson and his very own X-Men duo.
Yes, Deadpool does exist within an established X-Men Universe (I hear film universes are all the rage) that we have been exploring since 2000, and the writers take full advantage with hilarious results. Whether it was Deadpool trying to take down a bemused Colossus (this time played by Stefan Kapicic) or asking which Professor X is at the X-Men mansion (McAvoy or Stewart), the writers didn’t miss an opportunity to poke fun at the very serious franchise developed by Brian Singer. It’s worth mentioning that although Colossus has appeared in 4 X-Men films prior to this, Deadpool does the best job of showcasing his character, with a very fun take on the Russian mutant.
The rest of the supporting cast are also good, if not a bit under developed. T.J Miller was funny as Weasel, Ed Skrein was dutiful in his role as the main villain bringing a sadistic charm to the character and Morena Baccarin was likable as Deadpool’s love interest but none of the characters were given enough time to steal the limelight from a perfect Ryan Reynolds performance. Again, the writers and director Tim Miller play to the film’s strengths and just let Deadpool’s character take the reigns of the film with none of the supporting cast being fully realised enough to stand on their own two feet.
In a year that will see the release of Batman vs Superman, Captain America: Civil War, X-Men: Apocalypse and Doctor Strange, Deadpool has already made a bold claim for being the best superhero film of the year. The action is fun and frantic, most of the jokes are hilarious and none of the movie’s weaknesses are big enough to distract from the brilliance of Deadpool himself.
Do yourself a favour, and go and watch Deadpool. I want a sequel.