After the release of a staggering 36 films since the turn of the century, we’ve come to know what to expect from films based on Marvel Comics, whether it’s an origin story or ensemble, or should that be ‘assemble’, piece where characters weave in and out of each others movies. In to mix up the formula as part of the X-Men series strand is self-referential comedy ‘Deadpool’, marking the directorial debut of Tim Miller, who is jokingly labelled an ‘overpaid tool’ in the titles. Ryan Reynolds takes the leading role, eager to leave the green mask of universally panned ‘Green Lantern’ behind him. The plot centres around mercenary Wade Wilson (Reynolds) who undergoes an experimental treatment that goes horribly wrong, but leaves him with superpowers. Out to reconcile with girlfriend Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) and get revenge on villainous Ajax (Ed Skrein), can he undo the damage and get the girl?
As much as the opening sequence mocks the superhero genre stereotypes, the narrative treads a familiar path, ticking the boxes in what is a relatively simple storyline. The difference from the norm is that the journey is much more important than the destination, and the journey is a crude, crass ride with a lot of laughs along the way. The script is packed with punchy dialogue and throwaway remarks, and just when you’re finished sniggering at one snappy pop culture joke, another comes along. There are dashes of quite brutal violence which can disrupt the tone slightly, and which earned the film an R rating certification across the pond, but on the whole it always feels comical in its execution, as does the inventive use of frequent strong language throughout.
The self-aware styling techniques run the risk of making the film appear too sure of itself, but the passion behind Ryan Reynold’s excellent performance stays just on the right side of confident. He brings passion and punch to the project, in which he also has a producing role, reminding us of his acting talent and poking fun at his own poster-boy image through the voice of his cut-throat alter-ego. Morena Baccarin, who is perhaps best known for her part as Brody’s wife in Homeland, serves as more than the usual love interest as the sassy Vanessa Carlysle. She has her fair share of the witty one-liners and is more than just a plot device to be rescued, although of course, SPOILER ALERT, she does get kidnapped by the British bad guy.
‘Deadpool’ provides a killer kick to Marvel’s tried and tested concoction, slipping a pill of unforgiving and unadulterated fun into the cocktail of capes, crusades and spandex. It is enjoyable from start to finish, from the exciting action fight scenes to the glorious 80s soundtrack, as well as the ‘love story’ at its wicked bloody heart, and in the pool of dying film franchises, this one is by far and away an outsider. Deadpool is the anti-hero we deserve, and the one that we need right now.