I need to get something off my chest before we begin.
Deadpool is NOT the first R-rated Marvel superhero movie. If you've only been tuning into Marvel's superhero superfranchises for the last 5-10 years or so, you may very well believe this to be true. If, however, you are my age or you've ever left the sanctuary of your mother's basement for actual socialization then you likely realize that Deadpool is merely the latest in what may very well become known as the studio's greatest attempt at attracting society's more demented and gleefully violence-friendly moviegoers into the Marvel moviegoing universe.
There, I feel better now.
Deadpool is an awful lot of fun, admittedly dark and R-rated fun, and if you take your child in to see THIS Marvel superhero film you deserve a fate similar to that befalling our central character, Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds), a slightly humane former Special Forces Operative turned mercenary who mostly spends his days hanging out with his best friend Weasel (T.J. Miller) and, after a few minutes into the film, his girlfriend, Vanessa (Morena Baccarin).
If you know that fate, and first-time feature film director Tim Miller takes his time showing it to us, then you likely understand the kind of relentless rage muted ever so slightly by humor and sarcasm that unfolds once Wade becomes Deadpool and Deadpool the film becomes a revenge story meets origin story meets the newest member of the Marvel family of semi-subversive, R-rated and definitely not family friendly entertainment.
So, if I see your kid in the audience be warned. I'm watching.
There is humor in Deadpool and a surprising amount of it actually works largely on the strength of Ryan Reynolds' ability to be both sincere and sarcastic in the same cinematic breath. We believe in Wilson's, aka Deadpool's, rage in both its legitimacy and its intensity and we believe in it largely because Reynolds wears it and not just on his face. We believe it because Weasel, the kind of best buddy who will always have your back but will always remind you of the fact, can't stop obsessing on it and joking about it. We believe it because Vanessa, played by Morena Baccarin as far more substantial than just your stereotypical prostitute with a heart of gold, embodies the perfect girlfriend with her almost unfathomable mixture of sexy meets sweet meets substantial meets angel in skin.
There is also violence in Deadpool and I'm not talking the kiddie cartoon violence so often present in these superhero flicks. I'm talking violence borne out of rage and a desire for revenge and a willingness to hurt anyone and kill anyone who gets in the way of that revenge. Oh sure, it's mostly played for laughs, but it's far more graphic and far more intense than we usually see in the Marvel universe.
You've either been warned or you've been turned on.
If you've caught the trailers for Deadpool, and I can't imagine you haven't, then you already know that that the film is constructed in a self-referential, tongue firmly planted in ass cheek kind of way. It begins with the opening credits. an inspired and mood-setting choice that helps set the tone for the rest of the film. Rest assured, the fourth wall is broken repeatedly and at times it feels like maybe we've stumbled into an R-rated Shrek movie with all the not even close to subtle pop culture references and riffs.
Deadpool isn't brilliant cinema. Deadpool isn't the best Marvel film and it's sure as hell not the most subversive film you've ever seen unless you're 25-years-old and still live in your mama's basement. Just accept it for what it is - a terrific directing debut from Tim Miller that pretty much awards him a throne made of golden jockstraps on the wings of Stan Lee. Deadpool is funny, profane, action-packed, immensely entertaining, surprisingly emotional and pretty much destined to be 2016's first big hit.
Marvel wouldn't have it any other way.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic