Directed by Tim Miller
It’s finally here! The “Merc with a Mouth” makes his true cinematic debút! The moment “Angel in the Morning” by Juice Newton plays over the Marvel logo and the brilliantly satirical title sequence, audiences know this ain’t their grandma’s comic book film. It sets the tone for this completely and amazingly irreverent and off-beat picture, which is exactly what Deadpool is all about.
Wade Wilson (Deadpool) is a mercenary who contracts cancer and is left with only one option to stay alive and be with his fiancé, Vanessa (a charming and feisty Morena Baccarin)…become a part of experimental military testing, because that always works out! Under the torturous care of Ajax (dastardly great Ed Skrein), Wade’s latent mutant abilities awaken at the cost of his beautiful Ryan Reynolds’ body. The literally and figuratively scarred antihero, seeks out his villainous progenitor to “fix” him, so he can be with his love once and for all. Also, some X-Men join in on the fun!
Hands down, Ryan Reynolds is Wade Wilson. From his pitch-perfect snark to his physical presence and actions, Reynolds devotes himself 100% to the character, with sheer glee. Ever since he found out that Wilson was described as him crossed with a Shar-Pei in the 2004 series Cable & Deadpool, the actor was deeply interested in the crimson-suited mutant. He even received the opportunity to play Wade in the greatly panned X-Men spinoff, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which was one of the probably only two good things about that film. Sadly, the character became a travesty in the third act when his mouth was sewn shut…Luckily, in Deadpool, Reynolds busts out of the seams at every point! Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza may have created the character, but Ryan brought him to life.
It’s almost mind-boggling that the script for this film, written to precision by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (Zombieland), was shelved six years ago, until the test footage leaked and fan uproar forced the studio to begrudgingly greenlight production. Watching the film unfold, it becomes readily apparent how intelligent, witty, and hilarious the material is. The movie does not pander to a general audience. This is for comic book, specifically Deadpool and X-Men, fans. Name one film where Voltron and unicorns are topics of conversation! Those loosely familiar with the character will still enjoy it, especially if they like goofy or raunchy humor. Most origin stories become bogged down with exposition minutiae, but Deadpool maintains its taught pace with non-linear storytelling and the practically non-stop comedy and occasional over-the-top awesome violence.
Director Tim Miller (owner of Blur Studios and who produced the amazing Batman: Arkham Origins commercial) brings such a flare and reverence to the character. He was attached to the film back in 2011 and, like Ryan Reynolds, never gave up hope on the project. Throughout the movie, scenes are stylized by slow motion or just frozen to constantly break the fourth wall, which readers of the comic know is a necessity for this merc’s story. Surprisingly, it never feels like a gimmick and keeps its organic tone, especially when Wade walks and talks with his audience. It’s a perfect melding of the two techniques. Jokes and references are constantly being thrown around taking shots at Fox, the past X-Men films and Reynolds himself; nothing is sacred. This is as post-modern as post-modern cinema gets in a genre film.
Miller was only given a budget of $50 million, in comparison to say X-Men: First Class’ budget of $160 million, and he made use of every bit of that. This movie looks phenomenal and the SFX are top-notch, especially Colossus and the action sequences. Of course, Reynolds slices through with perhaps the performance of his career, but the supporting cast absolutely holds their own against him. Tim allowed the actors to flex their improv skills and it honestly makes the dialog and story feel natural, well, as natural as a sequential art adaptation can be. Even the romantic moments between Wade and Vanessa never feel melodramatic, despite the scenes depicting their love in probably the most ironic and unconventional ways. Deadpool has an earnestness to it that comes only from passionate people and clearly everyone involved was.
Oh and WHAM! The soundtrack is pitch perfect. Composer Tom Holkenborg or as he is better known, Junkie XL (Mad Max:Fury Road and the upcoming Batman V Superman) delivers an invigorating score with synth music that harkens back to video games or 80s/90s martial arts films. In combination with some great 80s pulls, the music is as eclectic as the film itself. I’m writing this review while listening to it, it’s that enjoyable.
I sat during the credits, waiting for the post-credits scene (spoiler: there is one!), thinking to myself, “I can’t believe 20th Century Fox produced this movie. Is this seriously the same studio that made the Fantastic Four reboot?” Fox gave Tim Miller and company total creative freedom and it paid off in spades. This is one the most refreshing and, without a doubt, funniest films I’ve ever seen. THIS IS NOT A FILM FOR CHILDREN! It may say Marvel, but it’s not a Marvel Studios picture. It is rated “R” and it’s a hard R, but the character and content called for this rating and it’s what audiences get and a whole lot more. A sequel is already greenlit and thank the Lord that the creative team is in talks to return. Better late than never I always say and Deadpool is proof of that. Go see this in the theater now…and maybe two or three more times to catch all the easter eggs.