Even the Joker saw it coming. “Why so serious?” he famously hissed, as if gazing into a crystal ball at the slew of humorless, deathly serious comic-book movies that were headed our way.
Let’s face it. Superhero films have gotten boring. With the exception of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, which brought a sense of fun and irreverence back to the genre, the majority of them have become somber affairs. From facing up to their own personal demons, and learning to channel their powers or ‘mutations’ for the general good of mankind, to going up against much stronger villains hell-bent on world domination, the superhero template has been set…and seldom deviated from.
Smug, sarcastic, and self-aware, he’s nothing like the other guys. He’s a wisecracking antihero in a film that eschews the conventions of the genre. He routinely breaks the fourth wall to make jokes about the ridiculousness of superheroes and superhero movies. He dishes out bloody violence with glee. He’s got a filthy mouth, and he’s obsessed with sex. What’s not to love?
The flimsy plot sees military man-turned-mercenary Wade Wilson adopt the alter ego Deadpool after being subjected to a rogue experiment to cure his terminal cancer. Now disfigured and scarred, but also pumped with amazing healing powers and a thirst for revenge, our hero becomes obsessed with tracking down the man who ruined his life – that being sadistic bad guy Ajax (Ed Skrein), who subsequently kidnaps Deadpool’s prostitute girlfriend Vanessa (Morena Baccarin).
This revenge storyline, which also sees Deadpool team up with a pair of B-list X-Men, is standard-issue at best, and Ajax turns out to be a forgettable villain to say the least. But Reynolds and director Tim Miller make the proceedings fun by the sheer force of their enthusiasm for the material. The 39-year-old star, who kept pushing for an “authentic” Deadpool movie – after playing a bastardized version of the character, with mouth famously sewn in 2009’s Wolverine: Origins – grabs the part and sinks his teeth into it, embracing the character’s dubious charm and committing fully to the silliness.
That involves delivering quips at lightning speed, making frequent jokes about masturbation and oral sex, and riffing on everything including Reynolds’ own Green Lantern fiasco and the ‘Sexiest Man Alive’ title he was bestowed with by People magazine. Plus we get a series of kinetic, blood-splattered action scenes occasionally played for laughs, and a romance that comes off as both funny and sweet without being cloying.
Far more daring, outrageous, and smart, compared to all those typical ‘the-world-is-going-to-end’ comic book movies, Deadpool is the most fun I’ve had at the cinema in a long time. I’m going with three-and-a-half out of five. It’ll bring out the 15-year-old in you.