Review: Deadpool


4 stars

Deadpool is the first R-rated Marvel superhero movie. He is not your typical superhero – Deadpool comes off like a sadistic cross between Spider-Man and Bugs Bunny, kicking ass while flinging wisecracks in all directions. Not cute little quips like Spider-Man; this guy throws out blistering remarks, startling wisecracks you never thought you would hear a masked adventurer say.


He kills, too, and he's flippant about that as well. Deadpool has suffered and he has no qualms about making his opponents suffer. The movie opens with a mid-battle freeze frame. The camera glides around the mayhem and we see faux credits. I don't want to spoil anything; suffice to say that instead of names, they contain insulting descriptions.

Deadpool is funny – frequently hilarious. It fools you into thinking you're seeing something bracing and new, until you eventually realize that while you were laughing the story started doing what too many Marvel movies do: dragging the audience through an origin story. More about that in a bit. For now I want to stay focused on the fun.

Ryan Reynolds has the title role and he's perfect, which is a sentence I never expected to type. In most of his movies, starting with Van Wilder, Reynolds plays the guy I'd most like to slap. Great looking, usually in amazing shape, but smarmy to the nth degree. He played Deadpool once before – briefly – in the first Wolverine solo movie, the one everybody tries to wish out of their memories. The character was wasted there, but everything clicks into place here.

Before the origin story, he was just Wade Wilson, a mercenary that hangs with his best pal Weasel (T.J. Miller). Wade is pansexual (look it up) and his relationship with prostitute Vanessa Carlysle (Morena Baccarin) is rich and colorful — to celebrate International Women's Day, she dons a strap-on to peg the eager man.

Now there's something you won't see in an Avengers' movie.

Here's how the film works. There's a ridiculously violent – and gory – action scene on a highway. The tone is established – Deadpool will break the fourth wall as needed, popping off about everything, including Ryan Reynold's disastrous turn as Green Lantern. Basically, Deadpool is Mystery Science Theater 3000ing his own movie in a feature-length Honest Trailer.

Once you're busy laughing and wincing, director Tim Miller and writers Rhett Reese and Paul Werrnick slip in an origin story, because that's what Marvel movies do. Sometimes they do it more than once (Spider-Man, Hulk, Fantastic Four). Damn it.

Long origin story short: Wade gets terminal cancer and submits to an experimental treatment by evil Dr. Ajax (Ed Skrein). The cancer is destroyed and he gains super powers, including incredible healing abilities, but he is left deformed. Lots of jokes are made as Weasel tries to accurately describe him.

He looks like a burn victim, Weasel. If the writers had tried a little harder they could have come up with a way to acknowledge that and still be funny. And, during the scene where people on the street turn away in shock from Wade's face, they would have shown someone looking at him with compassion, because people do that too.

But I digress.

After the origin story, we return for more chases and fights. That's it. The world is never in danger. No cities are destroyed. Nice change of pace.

What else to tell you? Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) from the X-Men turns up to play straight man in a couple of scenes, along with a sullen kid named Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand). The metallic mutant looks like a throwback to the early days of CGI.

I knew nothing about Deadpool before seeing the film. I had a great time, though the incessant negativity and disregard for human life wore on me. Based on the reactions and conversation snippets I heard, it was clear that Deadpool has a devoted fan base. As the crowd exited, I heard one guy refer to the film as "the most subversive movie I've ever seen!" I wonder if it will occur to him later that Deadpool: The Movie is a product of a gigantic corporation – designed, tested, jiggered and rejiggered to maximize its profit potential? I wonder if he will realize that his rebellious hero is just a puppet with a corporate hand much further up his ass than his girlfriend's dildo?

I kind of hope he doesn't.


Ed Johnson-Ott has been NUVO's lead film critic for more than 20 years.

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