This year will see the release of six superhero films. In a genre that has become stagnant in its complacency, fatigue has set in. “Deadpool,” 20th Century Fox’s re-do/apology for the Deadpool character shown in 2009’s “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” however, brings back the energy.
Whatever rules the superhero genre has created are not followed here; instead, they are butchered, mocked and in the end set aflame in what may be the most honest satire of the genre ever created.
As dirty as a gas station bathroom and as foul-mouthed as you when you discovered you owe thousands in student loans, “Deadpool” as a movie is as clever as the comic’s counterpart. Created in the early ‘90s as a parody of D.C. Comic’s Deathstroke, Deadpool has evolved into his own character with a loving cult following. Without the suave characteristics or political correctness seen in typical superhero films, “Deadpool” makes a clever mockery of its genre and Hollywood as a whole.
Created due to fan demand after a 3-D animation was released a few years ago, and backed by star Ryan Reynolds’ zeal for the character, “Deadpool” begins to satirize right from the opening credits. The jokes and Easter egg humor come as fast as the “Merc with a Mouth’s” bullets, with some jokes being lost to the audience as they still have not recovered from laughing at the previous joke.
One of Deadpool’s charms is his ability to break the fourth wall and interact with the audience. “Deadpool” will often look straight at the camera and speak to the people watching the film. This interaction with our world makes the film’s satire all the more real and even more hilarious when it is paired with pop-culture references. Cheap shots are taken at Reynolds’s previous superhero films “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” and “Green Lantern” with the actor using self-depreciating humor almost to the point of mockery. Nods to Batman, Star Wars, Voltron and several other films, including a hilarious near-recreation of a “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” scene, bring laughs and offer a deeper insight into our culture.
“Deadpool” is told through a non-linear fashion, with some scenes playing out his origin and others taking place while Reynolds is in the costume. The broken-up timeline is used to great effect as it gives a compelling origin while keeping an audience invested in spite of the excess of superhero origin tales.
Through one half of the film we see a Deadpool seeking revenge, while the other half shows a man motivated by love and survival. In all, the Deadpool character is more complex than he has the right to be, with layers of suffering, humor and just a right mix of good and evil.
The story is, however, simple. Hired mercenary Wade Wilson has recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Fearing the potential consequences more for his fiance, Vanessa, than for himself, Wilson ventures into mutant testing to cure his cancer. There the film’s antagonist, Ajax, imbues into Wilson the impossible power of regenerative health, all while making Reynolds’s face unspeakably ugly, which may seem as impossible a feat as a man rapidly healing from gunshot wounds. All this is gained through extreme amounts of mental and physical torture, which creates the animosity between the two characters.
Surviving the madness and vowing revenge, Wilson becomes the anti-hero Deadpool, a man who is no more afraid to dice up a living man as he is to rescue one. The narrative is easy enough, and as clichéd as any other superhero film, but the fourth-wall breaking and overall satire make the plot an act of parody, not simplicity.
Reynolds, whose career has come in and out of public disgrace, has found his star role here. Maybe he was not necessarily born to play Deadpool, but rather, like a sculpture by Michelangelo, Reynolds just needed to chip away at the marble of his career until the form of Deadpool was revealed beneath. It is a role he is natural in, and his excitement is palpable through every scene and every bit of campaigning done to get this movie made.
“Deadpool,” in a unique way, connects with the other “X-Men” films 20th Century Fox has been producing since 2000. Although only two X-Men are present here, a fact the film mocks itself for, their additions add a bit of familiarity and bring context to Deadpool’s place in the universe. Even the inclusion of Colossus is necessary, with his straight-man edge playing off Deadpool’s opposite personality. The popular mutant character is portrayed here better than he ever has been, even if his CGI is shaky at times.
For a film made on a low budget and branded, purposefully, with the R-rating, “Deadpool” is a success. The studio took a large risk in creating a superhero film where the genre’s key demographic, teenagers, were forbidden to enter its theaters. Without that R-rating, however, the film and its characters would not see the justice they deserve, and the overall product would not be what we deserved. All we need for the sequel is a few more chimichangas.