So here it is, then. After a decade in development hell, a grass-roots campaign by fans, some leaked test footage and following the silent debacle of 2009’s Wolverine, we might finally get a movie worthy of Marvel’s Merc with a Mouth.
Ryan Reynolds has seemingly been in limbo for donkey’s years patiently awaiting his shot at a character he clearly has personal interest in. So is the much-anticipated product suitably madcap and worthy of the titular character’s name, or is it another misfire? In some respects, Deadpool sums up everything that is both good and bad about the character. It’s an indiscriminate, foul-mouthed, unashamedly adult and raucously entertaining piece of super (don’t day hero) filth. It’s also an, at times, lacklustre and juvenile mess that makes you wonder if there isn’t really any method behind the madness.
Reynolds is, once again, Wade Wilson, the cynical former Special Forces mercenary with ambiguous morals and an acid tongue. After contracting cancer and at the behest of his girlfriend Vanessa Carlysle (Morena Baccarin), Wilson allows himself to undergo an experimental procedure that cures his cancer and gives him healing powers at the expense of extensive disfigurement. Driven by a maniacal desire for revenge, Wilson adopts the moniker Deadpool and sets about wreaking havoc on those who have wronged him, including chief culprit Ajax (Ed Skrein).
At the risk of incurring the wrath of comic book fans everywhere, let me put forth my two pennies worth and say that they have always been too precious of Deadpool the character. His most recognisable trait, his incessant penchant for sly quips, is also his most defining attribute, the quality of which largely depends on who is writing the comic at any given time. In the hands of a great writer, he is arch, sarcastic and cynical; the great Marvel anti-hero who breaks the fourth wall and skews the very genre in which he inhabits. In the hands of a dodgy writer, he can be ceaselessly infantile with virtually no respite from his hackneyed, lazy gags. Such as the ferocity with which he wisecracks, Deadpool the character is only ever as good as his last joke.
The movie is something of a microcosm for the comic at large. Many of the movie’s jokes do hit home and, all the while they do, Deadpool is a crass, violently amusing romp. When the jokes fall flat, and as many don’t as do, you are left twiddling your thumbs somewhat, waiting for another zinger. With Deadpool , this seems to be exaggerated in a way that doesn’t undermine other superhero movies simply because of the character’s inability to do anything other than make with the funnies.
A sincere round of applause must go to Reynolds who has stuck with project and has, in many respects, been its champion. In terms of performance his Wilson/Deadpool feels pretty much note perfect, chiming with my own imagination’s interpretation of how the character would sound and feel. And kudos too to Fox who have thankfully not bowed to commercial pressures and kept the movie resolutely R-rated. It’s far too heavily reliant on glossy CGI, but there’s been no shirking on the violence, tits, bums and (amazingly) pegging front.
Sidekick mutants Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) feel somewhat surplus to requirements and give the impression that they’re operating within their own film at times. But X-Men fans should feel some measure of relief that this incarnation of Peter Rasputin feels like the steel-plated giant of memory.
Mercifully not afraid of being risqué, Deadpool feels like a fitting adaptation of a character that is often his own worst enemy.
Action,Superhero | USA, 2016 | 15 | 20th Century Fox Pictures | 10th February 2016 (UK) | Dir.Tim Miller | Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Gina Carano, T.J. Miller,Ed Skrein, Brianna Hildebrand