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As far as comic book characters go, there are few more harshly divisive than Deadpool. For as many people who can’t get enough of his blabber-mouth and general insanity, there is an equal number of people who feel like most of the heroes in the Marvel Comics world: they hate his guts. As such, the long-developing Deadpool movie has spent years as a mystery, with it constantly carrying the question of whether or not it would highlight the best aspects of the character, or the worst ones.
Now the verdict is in, and the good news is that director Tim Miller’s Deadpool is a blissfully unique and hilarious action-packed blockbuster that stands as one of the best big-screen superhero origin stories that we’ve had the pleasure of seeing.
Based on a script by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, the non-linear comic book film recounts the life and times of Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds), a mouthy ex-Special Forces operative turned sociopathic mercenary who finds his world forever changed when he meets the beautiful Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), a prostitute whose entire life has been the same level of dark and awful as Wade’s. Drawn close by their matching pain, they couldn’t be more happy together… but, of course, that’s when tragedy decides to strike.
It’s revealed that Wade has late-stage cancer in his liver, lungs, prostate and brain, and is left questioning whether or not he should sacrifice his love and spare her the pain of watching him wither and die. But that’s also when Wade finds a special offer on the table – invited to take part in what’s described as a government-funded workshop that will not only cure his disease, but give him abilities beyond any normal man. He puts his life in the hands of a shaved-headed, menacing doctor named Ajax (Ed Skrein), though when it turns out the facility has designs on turning Wade into a super slave instead of a superhero, he’s put on a path that will not only see him gain incredible healing powers and horrifically scarred skin, but also a deep, deep desire for bloodthirsty revenge.
If variety is the ultimate key to the perpetuation of the comic book movie genre, then Deadpool will be received by fans as a blessing, because we truly have not seen anything quite like it to this point. Taking the complete opposite approach to the character than the one exercised by X-Men Origins: Wolverine (which surgically removed anything and everything interesting about the post-modern anti-hero), the film understands and embraces what makes the red-and-black-suited psycho special, and utilizes those elements to inspire a fantastical, R-rated, one-liner-filled blast. Everything is on the table, from his gleeful abandon during fights (knowing that he will always heal) to his distinct ability to break the fourth wall, and matched with perfectly-toned superhero cynicism it comes together stunningly well.
There is much to be said about the clear and shining love for Marvel Comics’ most notorious character that comes through in the writing and direction of the film, but the greatest weapon Deadpool possesses is star Ryan Reynolds – given a second shot to prove that he is the perfect actor to play the Merc With The Mouth (spoiler alert: he absolutely does). Reynolds has certainly had a rough go of it in the genre – not only starring in the brutal X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but the equally bad Green Lantern and Blade: Trinity - but those past failures only add a tremendously righteous redemption angle to Deadpool’s story.
The actor clearly revels in the opportunity to hyperactively babble on, and in doing so demonstrates genius timing and impeccable chemistry with all of his co-stars – whether Wade is trading horrible life stories with Morena Baccarin’s Vanessa; talking shop with the always-delightful T.J. Miller as Deadpool’s friend/weapons dealer Weasel; or mocking the angst-y, goth-styled X-Men trainee Negasonic Teenage Warhead (played by talented newcomer Brianna Hildebrand). Clichéd as the phrase may be, Ryan Reynolds was born to play Deadpool, and he truly doesn’t waste a second of the opportunity (now that it has come around again).
As has been proven in the past by titles like Iron Man and Guardians of the Galaxy, humor goes a very long way in making comic book movies stand out, and it’s the fact that Deadpool is constantly laugh-out-loud funny that will secure its place as one of the best examples of the genre. The way the titular hero prattles on, you’d think that at least some of the jokes would land with a dull thud, but the hit-miss ratio is outstanding, and the love is very much spread around – with every supporting character getting at least one big laugh.
Not having the budget of your typical $150-200 million blockbuster, Deadpool is relatively small-scaled for a comic book movie, but the production deserves an incredible amount of credit for maximizing the resources that they have. Surely benefiting from Tim Miller’s extensive and impressive background in visual effects, the biggest action sequences are pure-blooded spectacle, rife with highway pile-ups, stunningly choreographed acrobatics and hand-to-hand combat, intense gunplay, and katana-swinging badassery. What’s more, the movie certainly takes full advantage of its R-rating – racking up a sizable and creatively-created body count that clearly demonstrates the protagonist’s anti-hero status – but it also never pushes the violence towards unpleasant gratuity. Combined with some excellent production and costume design (it’s hard to get over how great the Deadpool suit looks), and a wonderfully eclectic soundtrack, the film brandishes fantastic flair and thrills that complete the picture.
Deadpool’s script spent about five years on the shelf waiting to get made, and watching the finished result, it’s hard to understand why its incredible potential wasn’t seen and exploited sooner. The movie is going to endear a whole new audience to the vivid and weird character, while once again demonstrating the tremendous opportunity for variety in the comic book movie genre. “Worth the wait” only begins to describe the outrageous and excessively entertaining film, and it spells incredible things for the character's future.