Ah yes, Deadpool. Deadpool, Deadpool, Deadpool. The sass and wit that graced the pages of many a comic since his 1991 Marvel debut finally makes his motion picture debut following 10+ years of production delays, a mishandled appearance in 2009's X-Men Origins: Wolverine and a well-received leak of some test footage shot by the eventual director (Tim Miller) of the Merc with a Mouth's newest incarnation AND starring the same man (Ryan Reynolds) who's been fighting to give the character his own film all this time. With the release of Deadpool, everyone finally gets the movie Marvel's resident Ferris Bueller deserves-but is it really the movie we need right now?
Short answer? Probably. While many films under the Marvel umbrella manage to maintain a light-hearted tone peppered with bright visuals, fast-paced moments of action and likable characters, it does seem to be the trend to continually ground these films with a sense of realism. DC not only continues to remain guilty of that, but also seems content with gracing every movie they release with a dark tone that even Marvel seems to be leaning towards as the dig further into their bag of tricks and finally move away from origin story after origin story. Luckily, though Deadpool is yet another origin story, it's a damn funny one, a vast departure into a much-needed less-than-serious world only the smarmiest could inhabit, and a perfect vehicle in which leading man Ryan Reynolds at long last gets to shine.
Make no mistake, Deadpool belongs to Reynolds, a role he eases into much smoother than, say, the actual scenes of Reynolds' Wade Wilson becoming Deadpool onscreen (which are decidedly more reminiscent of watching him try to deliver his lines in 2011's Green Lantern). He's born to play the part, firing off wisecracks, sarcasm and overall hilarity in a way that one might recall a young Reynolds all the way back in 2002's National Lampoon's Van Wilder. Seeing him fully come into his own with a role I don't believe any other actor could have pulled off quite as well brought a smile to my face that remained throughout the 108 minute runtime, during which we, the audience, unfortunately fall victim to Deadpool's only flaw...
...the story. Yeah, like I said before.
Yes, I know it's based on the original origin story as seen in the comic, and like every superhero film/comic arc, it always needs to start somewhere. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy a good origin, and when it spawns a character with a presence as commanding as ol' Mr. Pool, any cliches/tropes/things I've seen many times over can easily be forgiven. That being said, it is still full of cliches-guy has special talents, guy falls in love, guy falls on hard times, guy is given an opportunity to become a superhero-type, guy kicks ass. We've seen it before and we will see it again. It also doesn't help that this film's portrayal of Deadpool ally Colossus didn't really work for me at all.
However, if you can forgive the fact that the narrative framework holding together Deadpool can be replaced with that of any other big-screen comic book adaptation, you may be quick to find some outstanding, appropriately violent scenes that showcase the comic faithfully leaping off the pages much like 2010's Kick-Ass, a surprisingly emotional story involving Wilson and his girlfriend that act as the glue to Deadpool's near-constant stream of jokes, and-oh yes, the jokes. While some work better than others, there's no question you'll find at least a few genuinely funny, usually coming from either Reynolds or the always-reliable T.J. Miller as Wilson/Deadpool's best friend Weasel. The fourth wall is broken-nay, shattered-time and again, with Wilson/Deadpool poking fun at Reynolds' career (Green Lantern especially gets a few well-deserved shots), the absurdity of superhero films in general (watch for all the excellent nods to the X-Men films), offensive one-liners based around body parts and naughty words (count 'em all!) that teenage me would have completely loved and even Deadpool itself. Nothing is safe from the Merc with a Mouth's mouth, and chances are if you had a problem with any part of Deadpool, the title character already made mention of it. Hell, even the score (by Hans Zimmer protege Junkie XL) seems to contain a bit of parody-is it just me, or do parts of it sound like they were ripped from Michael Jackson's "Beat It"?
Deadpool may not be perfect, but it's in that imperfection that we, the audience, are given an endearing film amidst the bullet shells, scatalogical humor and well-played post credits scene(s). This is a film that had this closet Ryan Reynolds fan grinning proudly as if he were my snotty child heading off to see Dr. Xavier or order a reasonably priced chimichanga. Would a sequel work? Well, one is most definitely in production, one this reviewer will gladly see, but truth be told I don't know that another trip into Pool's stool is completely necessary. For now, I'm content to accept this film for what it is, and hope that future films based on such legendary characters receive the treatment seen here.
If nothing else, at least it gave us the best Stan Lee cameo yet.