Created in 1991 by Fabian Nicieza and Rob Liefeld in The New Mutants #98, Deadpool, aka Wade Wilson, has remained one of the most popular comic book characters of the last few decades. Also known as The Merc with a Mouth, DP unfortunately took a long time to eventually make his leap to the big screen. After a failed deal with Artisan Entertainment in the early 2000s, Fox, who had found massive success with their X-Men franchise, decided to take a crack at it, starting with having the character appear in the 2009 spinoff X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Sadly, the results were less than stellar. Even though they cast Ryan Reynolds, who was a perfect fit for the character, they drastically changed the character to where he no longer was Deadpool. Between sewing his mouth shut, giving him so many powers that it’s absurd, and essentially making him look like a knock-off of Baraka from Mortal Kombat, fans of the character were none too happy. Despite that and numerous other problems, the film was a hit, so Fox decided to move ahead with a new Deadpool movie. Unfortunately, between 2011’s Green Lantern and 2013’s RIPD, faith was lost in the star power of Ryan Reynolds and plans for a Deadpool movie were put on hold. Then, in 2014, test footage was leaked online that was to show Fox what a possible Deadpool movie with Reynolds would be like, and it instantly became a viral hit. With the unexpected reception of the test footage, Fox decided to give the movie a greenlight, with Reynolds starring, Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick writing, and Tim Miller directing. So, with all the production issues, how did the movie turn out? Probably WAY better than anyone would’ve ever expected.
The plot revolves around Wade Wilson (Reynolds), a mercenary who goes after all kinds of scum and dirtbags, even though he himself is not a good guy. One night, he meets a prostitute named Vanessa, played by Morena Baccarin, and the two instantly hit it off. They fall in love, have an entire montage where they have sex themed around various holidays (including International Women’s Day), and Wade even proposes to her. Things seem to be going well until Wade collapses to the floor and finds out he’s been diagnosed with terminal cancer. With all hope seeming lost, Wilson gets an offer from a shady man in a business suit promising not only a cure for his cancer but also a chance at becoming a superhero. Unfortunately, Wade doesn’t have many options, so he leaves Vanessa and goes off to what he thinks will be his salvation. However, things aren’t what he thought they were, as he’s taken to a facility run by Ajax, played by Ed Skrein, who instantly hates Wade and finds his sense of humor annoying. Wade’s given an injection that will awaken any sort of dormant mutant genes in his system, but it only works after he’s undergone a massive amount of stress. This leads to a montage where Wade is subjected to all kinds of horrible torture, but even with these awful conditions, Wade still has his sense of humor and constantly gets on Ajax’s nerves, especially when Wade learns that his real name is Francis. This pushes Ajax/Francis to put Wade in a deprivation tank that cuts off oxygen to the point where the victim is on the urge of suffocating. While this does awaken Wade’s mutant gene, a healing factor that cures his cancer and makes him near invincible, he is left horribly scarred. If that weren’t bad enough, he finds out that he’s actually going to be sold off to the highest bidder as a super-powered slave. Wade manages to escape after burning down the facility, but Francis gets away after telling him that he can cure Wade’s disfigurement. After trying to reconnect with Vanessa but fearing how she would react to seeing him, he confides in his friend Weasel, played by TJ Miller, and the two create Wade’s alter-ego, Deadpool. DP then sets out to get revenge on Francis, get him to cure his scarring, and get Vanessa back.
What largely makes this movie work is Ryan Reynolds’ performance as Deadpool. His comedic timing is on-point and he just exudes charisma and charm. He also has great chemistry with Baccarin to where you totally buy them as a loving couple and you get why he’s so determined to get her back. Ed Skrein also shines as Ajax/Francis, playing such a loathsome and detestable villain that you love to hate him and you’re just waiting for him to get his comeuppance. Along the way, DP runs into two of the X-Men, the gigantic Colossus, played by Andre Tricoteux and voiced by Stefan Kapicic, and the new recruit Negasonic Teenage Warhead, played by Brianna Hildebrand. The two of them make a great pair, Colossus being the moral center and basically being an even bigger boy scout than Superman, and NTW acting as a snarky and cynical teenager who rolls her eyes at Deadpool’s jokes and constantly mocks him. Also in the mix is Blind Al, played by Leslie Uggams, who is a lot of fun as a bitter, old black lady who more-or-less acts as Wade’s caretaker and throws insults back and fourth with DP. The direction by Tim Miller is well-done, as he stages these huge action sequences where the camera pulls back enough so you can see what’s going on and does a good job balancing the action, comedy, and drama. The writing is on-point as well, with tons of great referential humor, especially all the numerous digs at X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and crude humor that is intelligently written, as contradictory as that sounds. The movie is just a blast from beginning to end, with tons of great action sequences and gags that you’ll be quoting for a while.
If there are any issues I have with the film, the plot isn’t necessarily bad, but it is somewhat cliche and simple. Granted, the simplicity does work for the movie it is, but there isn’t anything to write home about with the plot. Also, some of the CGI sticks out pretty bad, especially in scenes where you can tell that it’s not Reynolds on-screen. Even still, the work on Colossus does look really impressive, to where you buy him as a fully three-dimensional character. In addition, while most of the humor is on-point, some of it doesn’t quite land, but those jokes are few and far in-between. At the end of the day, Deadpool is still an insanely entertaining movie. It’s violent, it’s crude, it pokes fun at many modern day superhero movie tropes, and it also reminds people that a superhero/comic book movie can be R-rated. We’ve had plenty of those in the past, such as Blade and Watchmen, but in this day and age where PG-13 movies are the norm, Deadpool was a breath of fresh air. Especially with the sequel having come out around the time this review was written, now is definitely a great time to revisit this movie.
Suck on it, Wolverine!