Comic book fans can (mostly) breathe a sigh of relief; though it certainly could have tried harder in some key areas, this long-gestating adaptation of the iconic, subversive super-not-hero delivers the irreverent laughs and surging ultra-violence that audiences will rightly expect.
After being diagnosed with terminal cancer, lowlife Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) undergoes a risky operation in order to save his life. Though the op is successful, it also grants Wilson regenerative capabilities while also leaving him badly scarred and only amplifying his already-obnoxious personality. This forces Wilson to don a spandex suit and fight bad guys, aided by his kinda-trusty pal Weasel (T.J. Miller), as he attempts to reconnect with the love of his life, Vanessa (Morena Baccarin).
From its first frame, Deadpool keenly plays with the tropes of both the blockbuster movie and the comic book film in particular; gags both visual and spoken litter every single scene, such that fans will doubtless want to pore over every shot of the Blu-ray for easter eggs (of which there are surely a ton). If nothing else, the result is a refreshing jaunt that veers away from the comparatively sanitised, stakes-free mayhem of the Marvel Cinematic Universe; it keenly mocks itself and the type of film it is, and introduces gratuitous swearing, nudity and violence for gleeful kicks.
As such, the first act of Deadpool in particular feels like a face-melting reinvention of what the superhero movie can be, even if it sadly can’t quite sustain the same momentum for its final hour. As enjoyable as the dialogue, actions and situations still are, the film settles a little too comfortably into the genre formula it also satirises; the excessive origin story is sliced up and drip-fed throughout the movie’s first two acts, leaving only about another 30 minutes for, well, an actual movie.
Sadly it’s pretty standard revenge story fare when you strip away all that personality, the film’s sheer charm violently shoving it along all the way (much like Guardians of the Galaxy in that regard, in fact). Ed Skrein’s villain Ajax is underwritten and acted without flair, while Baccarin gets relegated to eye candy damsel, and everything pretty much unfolds exactly as you expect it to. The moments of genuine earnestness, though infrequent, also fall mostly flat, because in a film about a sarcastic, semi-psychotic man murdering people, do the filmmakers really think we’re going to get mopey about the same cancer-ridden guy having relationship problems?
Still, as an experience, it’s a satisfying rebuke to the saminess that’s pervaded the genre for so long. It was absolutely capable of achieving classic status, though hopefully now that the film is on course for significant success, the already-announced Deadpool 2 can subvert the superhero schematic a little more confidently.
And for the love of God, make sure you stay through the credits, or you’ll kick yourself.
Deadpool is in cinemas now