Back during the Dark Age of Comic Books in the ’90s, Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza introduced a brand new character to the world of Marvel Comics: Deadpool. Initially, the character was nothing more than a generic villain, but over time began to evolve into an anti-hero. It was not until Joe Kelly got his hands on the character that he made Deadpool the figure that he is today: a mentally-unstable mercenary who is also funny and self-aware of being a comic book character. He became a balance of pathos and comedy, a parody of the sort of gritty anti-heroes that were popular at the time. It is that version of the character which would develop a cult following and grow popular with time. In fact, the character has even begun to crop up in other media as well, though his last appearance on the big screen back in X-Men Origins: Wolverine was a terribly inaccurate version. Now, thanks to fan support after test footage had been leaked, Deadpool is finally on the big screen with his own movie. Simply called Deadpool, it is a long-awaited delight that feels pitch-perfect in tone and humor for the character.
Wade Wilson is a mercenary who spends his days handling assignments and enjoying drinks at the bar with his friend Weasel. One night, he encounters a prostitute named Vanessa and the two hit it off. They fall into a passionate relationship, though it hits a snag when a sudden fall leads to Wade being diagnosed with terminal cancer. Faced with the prospects of terminal cancer, Wade leaves Vanessa to take part in a secret experimental program. The program manages to create a healing factor in him that stops his cancer in its tracks, but it also horrifically scars him all over and shatters his mind. Wade seeks revenge against Ajax, the lead scientist who transformed him, but is left for dead as the program is destroyed in flames. Thanks to that healing factor, Wade survives and sets out to make Ajax cure him. Taking advantage of his “death”, Wade creates a costume for himself and takes on the name of Deadpool, using his killing skills and healing factor to cut his way through Ajax’s organization and take him down.
This film is an utter delight. A big reason for that is because it so wonderfully captures the spirit of the character. The jokes come at a rapid pace, covering a wide range from quick references to snarky reactions. There is plenty of fourth-wall breaking, acknowledging not only superhero movie tropes or talking to the audience but also bringing up (and mocking) Deadpool’s last big screen appearance. It also does not shy away from its R rating, embracing the rating and all of the brutal violence and foul language which can come with it. It is only fitting for a character like Deadpool. However, the film also does not neglect the heart of the character. It captures his pathos and his pain, his desire to reunite with Vanessa crushed by his new physical state. This mixture of pathos and humor is also expertly delivered by Ryan Reynolds, who is a perfect match for the role of Deadpool. It is clear that he was made for this part, especially considering how long he had stuck to the project during its lengthy time in “development hell”. His respect and love for the character and its source material shines through, offering a fun and new superhero for the big screen.
Now, for some, the story may seem a bit conventional. After all, the film showcases the origin story of Deadpool, shows him putting together his style, and it has a big action-packed climax. I do not see this as a problem at all. The overall story may seem conventional, but its presentation and package are all accurate to Deadpool. For one thing, the movie cuts back and forth between the backstory of Wade Wilson and his present-day hunt of Ajax. The juxtaposition approach adds a bit more flavor rather than just a straightforward narrative approach. Along with that is a component that Deadpool has become known for: his self-aware nature. He talks to the audience throughout the film, makes passing references to tropes within his film, or even outright moves the camera himself. His self-aware approach and humorous bend allow him to poke some parodic holes at trends in superhero movies, especially when paired against the straight-laced manner of Colossus. Combined with the R-rated elements of the film, the whole package offers something in the current wave of superhero movies: something new. It feels very distinct, surprising, but most of all pure to its character. It is almost incredible to think that this film even managed to happen, considering the risk it would be for a studio to try an R-rated superhero film. Well, it looks like the gamble has paid off and does so with such an irreverent yet faithful translation from comics page to screen.
Also, if you do see Deadpool, there is an after-credits scene.