It’s fast, loose, and (mostly) fun: Deadpool might be a total failure as a your typical superhero feature, but as a go-for-broke comedy this thing is a blast.
We know it’s all a joke from the opening credits, which introduce the movie as “some douchebag’s film” starring “God’s perfect idiot” and directed by “an overpaid tool.”
I had little interest in another arch, self-aware superhero movie that comments on its own tropes, but Deadpool doesn’t skirt around that line, it blows right through it: the film breaks the fourth wall so often it breaks the fourth wall within a fourth-wall break, and even comments upon it.
It wasn’t an easy road: Reynolds previously (and briefly) starred as Deadpool in 2009’s much-reviled X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which was much-reviled (among other reasons) due to the treatment of the Deadpool character. Reynolds had a few good quips early on before his Wade Wilson was transformed into a Frankenstein-like monster with adamantium poles and his mouth sewn shut.
Negative reaction to that film put a kibosh on plans for a standalone Deadpool feature until an animated test reel was leaked in 2014 and, with a more accurate presentation of the wisecracking antihero, drew overwhelming support from fans.
Instead of pretending that the previous X-Men feature didn’t exist, this Deadpool skewers it with one of its more irreverent sight gags. Also a target: Reynolds’ previous superhero bomb Green Lantern, and even Reynolds himself.
Deadpool opens with a reworking of that test reel, with the titular character preparing a freeway assault on “a British villain,” as listed in the credits. The first moment we see Deadpool in the film, he’s in the back of a cab taking a brochure for Haunted Segway Tours and trying to get a piece of gum off his costume. Nice introduction.
There’s little to distinguish the action scenes here from the action in any number of superhero movies, but throughout it all the filmmakers turn graphic bloodshed into bad-taste sight gags and Reynolds’ character is throws out quips left and right. Deadpool never takes itself seriously and never misses a chance to crack a joke.
That British villain is played by The Transporter Refueled’s Ed Skrein, and he’s completely disposable: a walking cliché in place of what could have been a colorful character from the comics. Better off are Colossus (a CGI creation voiced by Stefan Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), two X-Men along for the ride – but only two, as Deadpool quips, because the film’s producers couldn’t afford any more.
Also in support: T.J. Miller as the bartender Wade Wilson shares some extended banter with, and Morena Baccarin as the love of his life. As a supporting villain, Gina Carano’s fighting skills are wasted with her battling a hunk of CGI.
In the middle of all the action, Deadpool turns to the camera to tell us his origin backstory, with romance and cancer and long-winded explanations about how Wade Wilson became Deadpool and why he wants revenge on the British dude.
During these scenes, which seem to take up roughly half the movie, Deadpool almost grinds to a halt. There’s so much story to get through, and we don’t care about these characters the way we might in a movie that takes itself seriously. Director Tim Miller and writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick get that most of the time, but lengthy sections of exposition feel like they came from another movie.
Still, there are enough gags flying left and right for Deadpool to maintain its comic momentum for the duration. There’s relatively little going on in the film, but most of it is a blast. Especially Deadpool’s elderly, blind roommate-slash-sidekick (played by Leslie Uggams), who lives rent-free in exchange for putting together IKEA furniture.
Stick around after the closing credits for an additional scene.