Superhero movies have been in a bit of a rut with their PG-13 aesthetic, careful to appeal to teen boys as well as adult audiences, mostly male. Innuendo is fine, but sex? That’ll just get in the way of the vaunted PG-13 rating and cut out that critical 13-18yo audience. Fortunately director Tim Miller had the courage to flaunt that studio beancounter wisdom with the raunchy, crude, violent and surprisingly entertaining Deadpool, with the snarky and charismatic Ryan Reynolds in the title role.
Deadpool borrows some of his origin story from Wolverine, another character in the Marvel comic universe (known in the biz as “MCU”): through dastardly experimentation he has become tough, fast, and able to heal at an extraordinary rate. Unlike Wolverine, however, Wade Wilson and his alter-ego Deadpool haven’t become imbued with the drive to save humanity and do the right thing. in fact, Deadpool is much more of the “what’s in it for me and how can I have fun doing it?” frame of mind. Think “sarcastic Spiderman” but grown up.
In addition to the raunchy language and a rather explicit sex scene (that left this reviewer cringing just a little bit), Deadpool also breaks the so-called fourth wall, with the character quite frequently addressing the audience directly, making trademark snarky comments about his actions and decisions as things transpire. It’s funny and sometimes quite hilarious, bringing into stark relief just how over-self-important most other superhero movies end up being.
Deadpool takes place in the X-Man universe, and after some battle and smart-ass comments, his initial Mutant foes Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) and Negasonic (Brianna Hildebrand) end up his compatriots as they take on Ajax (Ed Skrein), the man who disfigured Wilson and create his Deadpool alter ego. The movie flashes back to the Deadpool creation story, an obvious sideways homage to both the Spiderman and Wolverine origin stories.
Wilson, it turns out, is a mercenary and gets his kicks betting on who is going to beat the crap of whom else in fights, particularly those he provokes at his friend Weasel’s (TJ Miller)’s bar. When he finds he has cancer, Wade connects with the evil Recruiter (Jed Rees), who promises to both cure him and give him incredible powers. Enter Ajax and a horrific series of tortures as they test out a drug treatment on the immobilized Wilson. The result? Deadpool.
There’s more to the story, but it’s really the very adult tone and dialog of Deadpool, along with the standard excellent special effects of all Marvel movies, that make the film really pop. And pop it does, with a “love it or hate it” approach that unabashedly seeks to propel the story while reminding us that not every human who dons spandex and a cape is going to be a charming, erudite and compassionate human being. At the end of the day, though, Deadpool turns out to be a superhero jerk with the heart of gold, rather to his own surprise.
And yes, he gets the girl, Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), and they have, well, rough sex. More than once. And that’s just how the film rolls. Make you squeamish? Then Deadpool‘s not for you. But if you can accept that superhero movies might be more than just adolescent morality tales, it’s a crazy, hilarious, and occasionally cringe-worthy ride that’s worth seeing!