I barely knew who Deadpool was back when he was slated to appear in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but I read up on him before that came out, and fell in love with the character. I loved Deadpool in Origins in the first third of the film, but wasn’t thrilled with what they did with him at the end, and was hoping we’d get something more along the lines of what Deadpool was like in the comics with a standalone film. Seven years after the fact, we finally get the character in a film that feels like the character in the comics, and delivered in a way only Ryan Reynolds can, with a lot of charm, quick wit, and a slew of immaturity and dick jokes.
Deadpool tells the story of Wade Wilson, a merc for hire that’s out for himself, and taking jobs that don’t necessarily pay all the bills, but make him feel better for some of the things he’s done in his past. He meets a prostitute named Vanessa, who he falls deeply for, and the two get in deep with each other before Wade finds out he has terminal cancer. After agonizing over it and not wanting to leave Vanessa, he enrolls in what he thinks is an experimental program that will cure him and make him a superhero only, that’s not really the program’s ultimate goal. Things go sideways, and Wade adopts the moniker of Deadpool as he starts hunting down the people that made him look like a monster, and ultimately get revenge on the man that did it to him.
The plot of Deadpool is razor thin. It shines, though, when it lets the characters breath. The fact that there is so much lighthearted fun thrown in between action pieces and the stronger emotional moments is another positive aspect. This is very much a character-driven action comedy that also happens to be a superhero genre flick. The writers do make a really good attempt at subverting the genre tropes by playing up the more comedic elements of the character and throwing in his breaking of the fourth wall by directly talking to the audience. By having the story told out of order, it does end up feeling a little less like what we’ve gotten before, but at the end of the day, this is an origin film for a superhero, and some of those regular beats still hit.
None of this would work without the excellent timing from Ryan Reynolds in the lead role, along with what amounts to his sidekick in the film, Weasel, played by T.J. Miller. They play off each other extremely well, and I can only imagine – and salivate – at the things that landed on the cutting room floor. Hopefully we see just a hint of it on the deleted scenes or alternate takes. Probably the bigger surprise to me was just how much screen time the two X-Men guest stars in the film receive. Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead are actually in the film for quite a bit, and Colossus playing the straight man to Reynold’s Deadpool is equally charming and seriously funny. They opted to render up Colossus as the token CG character of the film, and he works and looks pretty good. The voice acting from Stefan Kapicic really brings the big Russian X-man to life, and shows more character and life here as a CGI character than he has in any of the previous X-Men films he’s been in. Brianna Hildebrand as Negasonic Teenage Warhead fits the surly teen trope and mutant really well, and her playing off Deadpool for her few scenes was equally as fun.
The comedy of the film is extremely fast paced. I know there were jokes I missed because I was laughing at the previous one. It can be a bit overwhelming, but they’ve struck a good balance between trying to tell the basic revenge story, along with a love story and comic book origin, and still manage to keep the wit rolling throughout. Most of the best one-liners in the film are in the trailers, though. They still play out well, and the film isn’t ruined by the trailers, but I kind of wish they hadn’t shown so much in the trailers and kept the marketing a bit more like the random guest shots where Reynolds suited up as Deadpool to talk to people about the film. It would have the same effect, and the impact would be kept intact for the film.
Overall, the direction of Deadpool is pretty good. Having the film open in the middle of Wade’s revenge, and having him go back to tell how we got to that point, really helped keep the film moving, and made it feel less like its counterparts while it relentlessly mocked them. The jokes at the other X-Men and Marvel films’ expense are aplenty, as well as the jokes about Green Lantern, and they managed to catch a lot of the heart that went into this as a passion project.
Deadpool is brutal, and between the dialogue and action scenes it more than earns its “R” rating in the opening sequence alone. Some of the CGI isn’t quite as good as it could be, but overall they keep it to a minimum, which I imagine has a lot to do with Tim Miller’s history in animation in both the game industry, and for commercials and films. Overall it doesn’t hurt the film at all, but it may not age all that well later like so many visual effects of older films.
Would I go back and watch this again? Absolutely. My wife and I both loved it, and she went in very lukewarm as she’s not necessarily a fan of Reynolds, but the character of Deadpool, along with the inclusion of Colossus, really won her over. Hell, I want to watch it again just to try and catch the jokes I missed. I’ll probably have to watch it at least three more times to get them all. Deadpool isn’t perfect, and it isn’t as subversive as its trying to be, but it is a funny, well-paced, revenge action flick that also doubles as a superhero origin story that proves once again that comic book films don’t all have to be about saving the world, but maybe just a piece of it.
Branden has been a film fan since he was young, roaming the halls of Blockbuster Video, trying to find the grossest, scariest looking VHS covers to rent and watch alone in the basement. It wasn’t until recently, though, that Branden started seeking out the classics of cinema, and began to develop his true passion for the art form. Branden approaches each film with the unique perspective of having studied the art from the inside, having both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in acting. He has been a film critic since 2010, and has previously written for Inside Pulse Movies, We Love Cult, and Diehard Gamefan. His biggest achievement as a film critic, to date, has been founding Cinefessions and turning it from a personal blog to a true film website, housing hundreds of film and television reviews, and dozens of podcasts.