It’s rare to get one of the best comic book movies AND one of the best comedies of the year…at the same time. If Deadpool was released in 2015, it would have easily been the funniest movie of the year. Regardless, the rest of the releases in 2016 have a high bar to clear, in terms of creatively presenting movies in both genres, from here on out. This is undoubtedly a superhero story, however screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, found an unconventional way to present a familiar journey.
Deadpool is about an ex-special forces operative, Wade Wilson brilliantly played by Ryan Reynolds, who becomes a mercenary for hire. Wilson is unexpectedly struck with late-stage cancer and enlists himself into a shady experimental program, that is promised to cure his cancer and grant him exceptional abilities. The tortuous procedures disfigure Wilson and launch him into his destiny as the masked mercenary known as Deadpool.
There probably is no bigger compliment that can paid to the movie, than it is simply the comic book brought to three-dimensional life. From Deadpool’s feats of agility to his sardonic wit and self-deprecation, this character is truly one-of-a-kind. In an era where it has become cool to be an “anti-hero,” Deadpool is the true definition of the word. However, this movie is far beyond a series of witty in-jokes and fart gags. (Although is certainly has its share.) It’s a subversive look at, not only the superhero genre, but a satire speaking to the entire nature of the Hollywood blockbuster.
This movie is directed with an infectious glee by Tim Miller that extends from the screen directly onto the smile on your face. The movie hangs on an outstanding lead performance by Reynolds, however the screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick and editor Julian Clarke, should be equally acclaimed. Their work has taken the familiar and formulaic origin story and repackaged it with energetic new paint job. Any complaints about the comic book genre running its course should be silenced and rethought following this release.
One of the defining traits of Deadpool, is that he’s fully aware that he is in a comic book, video game, or movie. Miller and the screenwriters utilize his unique willingness to break the fourth wall to not only effectively narrate the film, but also to offer his perspective on the entire state of the comic book movie genre and the X-Men franchise specifically. Nothing is off limits for his stream-of-consciousness commentary and it feels like the dose of honesty that the genre desperately needed.
The cast and scope of the movie is small, but allows for each performer to truly put their stamp on their characters. Reynolds inhabits the role of Deadpool seamlessly and it’s clear that this will be his defining career role, much like Robert Downey Jr. and Hugh Jackman before him. While Wilson really is the only character who has any significant development, T.J. Miller, Morena Baccarin, Leslie Uggams, and Ed Skrein, all shine in their limited screen time. However, make no mistake…it’s clear from the very first frame who the star of the show is.
The addition of X-Men characters Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead serve to highlight the various ways that the character differs from his PG-13 contemporaries. Colossus’ insistence on bringing Deadpool into the X-Men fold and becoming a superhero is a meta statement, that serves to contrast exactly what makes the film standout in the market. It’s only a glimpse of the potential interactions between Deadpool and his superhero contemporaries, but it should be interesting to see how he is used in the near future.
Miller has created a fully formed world that feels lived-in from the first frame. The movie has its own logic, the same way that movies like Kingsman: The Secret Service, have a distinct adult tone along with cartoonish and over-the-top violence. This is a movie that seems like it should be for a niche audience, however Deadpool is so effective, that it may end up expanding all notions of where a superhero and action movies can go. It’s truly an inventive piece of filmmaking and one that deserves repeat viewing. We can’t wait to see what comes next.