It’s been just over 18 months since a two-minute clip of test footage for a Deadpool film leaked onto the internet. After a bastardized version of the character appeared in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, fans spent the next five years clamoring for 20th Century Fox to correct their mistake, and their frenzied response to the leaked footage was enough for the studio to finally pull the trigger on Deadpool, which concludes its long, hard road to the big screen next weekend.
A former member of the Special Forces who now works as a hired gun, Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is forced to confront his own mortality when he finds himself diagnosed with terminal cancer. While his fiancée Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) tries to remain optimistic, Wade opts to undergo an experimental treatment that purports to not only eradicate the disease, but imbue him with extraordinary abilities.
Unfortunately, the manifestation of those abilities – which include enhanced speed and agility, along with rapid tissue regeneration – also leave Wade horribly disfigured, replacing his rugged good looks with something that resembles, in his own words, “a testicle with teeth.” With the leader of the program (Ed Skrein) convinced that he’s dead, Wade concocts a new persona – christening himself as Deadpool – and begins meticulously plotting his revenge.
Like his comic-book counterpart, Deadpool is fully aware that he’s playing to an audience. Whether he’s reaching out to adjust the camera angle or slyly referencing other films in the X-Men universe, the character’s fondness for breaking the fourth wall is on full display here. His penchant for vulgarity and violence – another trademark from the source material – creates many of the film’s laughs, but also puts him at odds with Colossus (voiced by Stefan Kapicic), who hopes to convince Deadpool to set aside his quest for revenge and join the X-Men.
It’s worth mentioning that after appearing in three other X-Men films, this is the first time an onscreen portrayal of Colossus has even remotely resembled the comic book version that fans have loved for so long. Everything is on point here, from the thick Russian accent to the genial personality, and his interactions with Deadpool create some of the most memorable scenes in the entire film. Brianna Hildebrand also deserves honorable mention for her role as Negasonic Teenage Warhead, a sullen mutant who’d rather be Tweeting than putting up with Deadpool’s bullshit.
From the opening credits sequence, which attributes the film to “some douchebag” and promises “a CG character” and “a gratuitous cameo,” it’s clear that Deadpool is not only a very different type of comic book film, but is also exactly what fans of the foul-mouthed mercenary have been waiting for. The script from Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (Zombieland) fires off jokes in such rapid succession that it’s virtually impossible to catch everything in a single viewing, as fits of laughter from the audience will most certainly drown out a few quips and one-liners.
That being said, Deadpool isn’t without its flaws – namely, a lengthy sequence around the midpoint of the film that languishes in superhero origin territory for a bit too long, hindering the momentum created during the first act. The film’s primary villain is also under-developed – as with most comic book films – and his inability to feel pain almost seems like a cover-up for Skrein’s dispassionate performance.
But in the grand scheme of things, these gripes are very minor, and watching Reynolds embody the character he was born to play is well worth the price of admission. Hardcore comic book fans will find very little to complain about here, as Deadpool skewers superhero movie tropes as easily – and as often – as our antihero skewers adversaries with his twin katana blades. In a market that finds itself increasingly saturated with formulaic franchise offerings, Deadpool is a welcome breath of fresh air, and serves as the perfect antidote to superhero saturation.