Disclaimer: My son and I saw Deadpool (2015, directed by Tim Miller) a few weeks ago, so this review may not be so fresh, but better late than never.
In my childhood, I was a big fan of superhero comics, mostly from the DC universe (Batman, Superman, etc.) but I lost interest around high school. Since then, my comic reading has been confined to graphic novels like those of Alan Moore, and the occasional manga such as “Death Note.” So I knew nothing of Deadpool except seeing all the related merchandise and fan art at events like Comicon. It seemed he must have something pretty interesting or original to attract so much attention in the crowded universe of superheroes.
Deadpool is one of Marvel’s famously flawed heroes, in fact more of an anti-hero. He’s a mutant with the usual superhuman abilities, but he refuses to join the X-Men, whom he sees as namby-pamby do-gooders. In his previous life, he was Wade Wilson, a retired Special Forces soldier who’d gone to work as a “mercenary,” which in the film consists of hiring himself out to ordinary people with scores to settle. Lest he be seen as a total villain, he only takes on targets whom he feels “deserve” to be terrorized, beat up, or worse. His mutant powers, the result of a very unconventional treatment for cancer, have rendered him practically indestructible.
(By the way, what is it with comic books and alliteration? Peter Parker, Bruce Banner, Clark Kent, Lois Lane…)
The actor Ryan Reynolds (alliteration again!) is a good fit for Deadpool’s wise-cracking, misanthropic character. He alone makes the Deadpool movie worth seeing, despite its standard “superhero origin story” plot. By the way, it earns its R rating with loads of violence, some kinky sex, and a lot of really crass humor. Yes, it’s funny, though it’s nowhere near the top of my list. (Just about anything starring Will Ferrell is funnier.) One of the comic high points was the fake credits at the beginning, which lists the producer as “Some Douche-bag,” the stars as “God’s Perfect Idiot” and “A Hot Chick,” with a script by “An Overpaid Tool.” The hero breaks the fourth wall more often than an angst-ridden Woody Allen movie. And it’s unrelentingly self-referential. When two characters from the X-Men refer to Doctor Xavier, Deadpool asks “Stewart or McAvoy”?
All in all, there’s plenty of action to keep it from getting dull, though as I said, you need to be able to appreciate the cruder bits. Though a surprising number of critics liked it (83% on Rotten Tomatoes) I’d grant this film an average rating, right about 3 out of 5 stars.