Dead Weight. Hur hur. Dead On Arrival. Dead In the Water. Brain Dead.
None of those apply, fortunately. Though a bit rough on the edges, Deadpool still has a lot of bite and a whole lot of bark.
If you’ve seen the commercials as many times I have, you basically have the gist of the entire movie. Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) finds out he has cancer and signs up for an experimental treatment that will not only heal him — it will give him superpowers.
That might sound like something too good to be true, and it is — while the treatment does involve a bit of torture to force Wilson’s mutant genes to activate, it leaves him looking hideous. To make matters even worse, the shady basement clinic plans to enslave Wilson and sell him to the highest bidder in need of a superpowered soldier.
Wilson escapes and exacts revenge with the help of two X-Men, his blind roommate, and his bartender best friend. Wanting to be cured of his grotesque visage, Deadpool hunts the mad scientist responsible.
The story is told via flashbacks and narration from the Merc with a Mouth, and though it clocks in at nearly two hours, it feels much shorter than that. The pacing is rapid-fire, and things just sort of happen — something the movie is very aware of. The self-awareness eases our doubts because it lets us know we’re not alone, and the effect is hypnotic — imagine a Deadpool on each shoulder tempting you to just let go and enjoy the movie for what it’s meant to be: entertainment.
And it’s plenty entertaining. The quips are solid, and Reynolds’ deliver does a lot of the heavy lifting. This is the superhero — or anti-hero — role that Reynolds first embodied in Wolverine: Origins, and that unfortunate debacle that gets roasted along with nods to Blade 2, Green Lantern, Fox Studios, and even Reynolds himself. Even Hugh Jackman and his role as Wolverine get put on blast, but it’s all in fun. Like the comic book character, Deadpool frequently breaks through the fourth wall, and the writers use it to great effect for some meta humor.
The rest of the characters are set dressing except for Wilson’s love interest, Vanessa (Morena Baccarin). The bond between Vanessa and Wade works because of the chemistry between the co-stars, and without it, the entire movie would lose the majority of its motivation. Still, I would have liked to see much more of Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand). Moviegoers who have no idea who or what the X-Men are might get a little lost, but there’s so much to the rest of the movie, they won’t be left behind for the parts that count.
I think it’s pretty safe to say that Deadpool is the funniest comic book movie out there, and one of the best Marvel movies produced by Fox. That isn’t to say it’s perfect — some of the acting is wooden, and some of the lines seem a bit forced — but those who don’t care won’t mind because they’re having too much fun. It’s not a movie where you need to turn off your brain, and that’s what makes it the best kind of guilty pleasure. It’s self-deprecating without being patronizing, and it’s clever without being pretentious. That sort of balance is hard to do, and this could be Fox’s Iron Man, the movie that made movie-going audiences believing Tony Stark was the leader of the Avengers.
When the inevitable sequel comes around, the X-Force could become a household name, and could we blame anyone for believing Deadpool started it all?