Film review: Does Deadpool live up to all the hype? Did Ryan Reynolds redeem the character after X-Men Origins: Wolverine?

After more than a decade in development, Deadpool is finally getting his solo movie. Does the film up the ante? Does Fox deliver a good film? Answer: the movie ups the ante for R-rated comic book movies.

Reviews Opinion

Since his New Mutants debut in 1991, Deadpool has been a popular anti-hero character of Marvel Comics. Known for his witty banter and breaking the fourth wall, the “Merc with a mouth” has starred in X-Force, X-Men and his own comic book series. The Deadpool series makes fun at popular culture, parodies common tropes of the superhero genre, and random observations. In 2009, Ryan Reynolds played a Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, during which he had his mouth sewn shut and was more or less resembled Baraka of Mortal Kombat. Now, 25 years after his first appearance, Deadpool is headlining his own film. 

Beginning in medias res, the story jumps into the life of Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) as he deals with a high-speed chase and fight sequence, all the while recounting to the viewer how he came to be in this predicament. As Wade Wilson, he was a former special forces operative who served as a mercenary in New York defending teenaged girls from creepy stalkers. He meets and falls in love with Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), to whom he proposes marriage. Upon being diagnosed with terminal cancer, Wade becomes afraid of losing Vanessa and takes up an offer for an experimental kind of treatment.

Wade is subjected to a healing program that initially brings no results. After being tortured by Francis “Ajax” Freeman (Ed Skrein) and Angel Dust (Gina Carano), his mutant healing factor is triggered in an oxygen chamber, thus curing him of cancer and making him immortal. However, the process leaves him heavily scarred and disfigured. Wade attempts to escape and kill Ajax, but his abuser beats him and offers to cure his disfigured appearance.

Unable to face Vanessa, Wade takes up residence with an elderly, foul-mouthed woman named Blind Al (Leslie Uggams) and seeks counsel with his friend Weasel (T.J Miller), who encourages him to become a vigilante. Following a montage of trial and error, he adopts the name “Deadpool” and begins going after Freeman’s associates. His actions draw the attention of the X-Men’s Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), who want to bring him to join the team.

Reynolds is brilliant as Deadpool, and the role feels tailor-made for him. His flippant one-liners and sarcastic putdowns are among the film’s highlights, especially taunting opponents and friends alike. As a comic fan, Reynolds loves the character, and he seems like a child opening presents at Christmas. The most memorable bits are Reynolds' jokes at his past appearances in X-Men Origins Wolverine and Green Lantern, both of which are humorously alluded to in the film. He also enjoys poking fun at celebrities, such as David Beckham and Sinead O’Connor, cracking jokes about reality stars, extolling the brilliance of 1980s pop band Wham!, and even mocking his own career. At one point, Deadpool also parodies Wolverine star Hugh Jackman by donning a magazine cutout of his face.

Skrein is quietly menacing as Ajax, but he isn’t given much to expand upon his character. The running gag of Ajax being angered by Deadpool calling him Francis is humorous, but it becomes less funny when cotinually repeated over time. Carana is a pleasant surprise as Angel Dust, whose fighting abilities are a big part of the film’s largest action sequences. Stefan Kapicic steals the show as gentle giant Colossus, who is subjected to Deadpool’s ribbing and frequent antics. His version of the character is fairly close to the comics’ incarnation, in which he abhors killing and urges for peace. Hildebrand brings likeability and teenage moodiness to Negasonic Teenage Warhead. 

T.J Miller provides a welcome presence as Weasel, who serves as Deadpool’s straight man and confidant. His blunt observations of Wade’s new appearance are one of the film’s funniest moments. Actress Leslie Uggams is hilarious as Deadpool’s roommate Blind Al, and their banter of exchanging of sarcastic one-liners is memorable. Stan Lee has an amusing cameo as the MC of a strip club.

Director Tim Miller succeeds in depicting the comics’ over-the-top violence and witty humor to life onscreen. He manages to achieve Deadpool’s tone without being gratuitous or taking it too seriously. Rhett Reese and Paul Warnick should also be given credit for their work on the script, which is very faithful to the source material. Special mention should be given to the creative team's shout-outs to comics canon, such as the Weapon X program, the uniforms used during Grant Morrison's run on Uncanny X-Men, and Deadpool's hinting at what viewers will get in the sequel.

Deadpool is a successful film. Reynolds is at the top of his game, and the supporting cast are very good. Fox should give themselves a pat on the back, because this is a damn good movie.

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