To describe “Deadpool” as a different kind of superhero movie would be a gross understatement, with the accent on “gross.” Dressed as Spiderman’s evil twin, this character describes himself as super but no hero. He’s raunchy, sadistically cruel and too eager to offend. On the other hand, he’s witty, satirical and laugh-out-loud funny.
Who knew inside the suave, button-downed Ryan Reynolds was a lewd, obscene and outrageous goofball? This may be the most defining role of his career! Reynolds’ view of Deadpool: “He’s a little bit of a head case, intentionally trying to annoy everyone.” But, disfiguring Reynolds’ face for a film? That’s crossing the line; are we right, ladies?
This irreverent spoof would not be possible without the endless stream of X-Men and related superhero flicks. The glut of blockbusters entertains countless audiences, but tend to follow similar formulas. From the X-Men comic universe, “Deadpool” was designed 25 years ago as a disturbing character that often swears and commits acts of graphic violence. Now his time has come to the big screen in a big way.
This is an innovative but exhausting origin story of Wade Wilson, former Special Forces operative turned mercenary. Wade is a potty-mouth, self-described bad guy messing up worse guys. As he explains, “Crime’s the disease, meet the cure. Okay, not the cure, but more like a topical ointment to reduce the swelling and itch.”
Writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick offer an onslaught of rapid-fire one-liners coming so fast, we’re still processing while the next one hits. First time feature director Tim Miller opens with smarmy credits such as “Directed by an overpaid tool” and features a vicious slow motion action scene to the tune of Juice Newton’s “Angel in the Morning.” Whaaat?
This sets an off-balanced tone for the most unconventional character in the Marvel universe. Undoubtedly, not everyone can or should adjust to blood splattered violence, ear-splitting audio, gratuitous nudity and a script where F-bombs are the least offensive words of the dialog. In Hollywood, these are too often used in place of wit or humor. But arguably, this one might have been just as clever and satirical without the vulgarity.
Wade meets a stripper Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), the love of his life. Then he is diagnosed with cancer. She is supportive, but he cynically responds, “You’re right, cancer’s only in my liver, lungs, prostate, and brain; things I can live without.” Introduced to a mad doctor called Ajax (Ed Skrein), he undergoes an experimental procedure.
Wade pleads; “Please don’t make the super-suit green or animated!” referring to Reynolds’ ill-fated role as “The Green Lantern” (2011). The tortuous process grants him extraordinary powers but horribly disfigures his face. His good friend Weasel coolly evaluates, “You are haunting, you look like an avocado had sex with an older avocado.”
When Colossus (voice of Stefan Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) offer to take Deadpool to see “The X-Men Professor,” he quips, “Which one, McAvoy or Stewart?” Reynolds was allowed to help revise the script and ad lib. He often breaks the fourth wall, speaking directly to the audience to let them in on the inside jokes and sarcasm. Remarkably, by mocking the franchise, he actually helps restore its luster.
“Deadpool” is 108 minutes and rated R for strong violence and language, sexual content and graphic nudity. Fully earning its R rating, this is unlike any superhero movie ever. You must be willing to absorb more rude and crude behavior than a presidential debate and as much rough and tumble violence as an Anthem of the Seas cruise.
As a long-time fan of Deadpool, Reynolds lobbied for a decade for the film. He even took a pay cut, but was allowed to keep his costume – whew! He speaks to the fanboys as if he were one of them, because he is. As such, he appears to be having the time of his life. In spite of or because of the shock and awe, this is a welcome change to the glut of heroes from the Marvel factory. Deadpool summarizes the point of the movie, “Daddy needs to express some rage!”
Ron’s Rating: A- Leigh’s Rating: C