Don’t expect the usual kid-friendly superhero fare from “Deadpool.” He’s part of the Marvel family, a distant cousin to Iron Man, The Hulk and Captain America, but he’s a superantihero, a weaponized bad attitude come-to-life with a chip on his shoulder and a raunchy quip on his lips.
Ryan Reynolds plays Wade Wilson, a former Special Services operative who now spends his days as the “Patron Saint of the Pitiful,” a mercenary who takes care of life’s little problems for people who can’t take care of themselves. “I’m a bad guy who get paid to BLEEP worse guys,” he says. When he meets Vanessa Carlysle (Morena Baccarin) he finally feels like he has a shot at a normal—or at least normalish—life.
They’re a match made in heaven. “Ever had a cigarette put out on your skin?” she coos. “Where else do you put them out,” he says. In love, they have plans to get married until he is diagnosed with late stage liver, prostate and brain cancer. Grasping at straws he signs up for an experimental treatment that promises to cure his disease. Instead, he is subjected to round-the-clock torture by an evil doctor named Francis (Ed Skrein), who uses immense physical stress to trigger super power mutations in his patients.
The treatment leaves him disfigured, both physically—”You look like an avocado had sex with an older avocado,” says his best friend.—and mentally—the treatment “cell stomped my sanity,” he says.—but with accelerated healing powers and a sarcastic way with a word that earns him the nickname The Merc [mercenary] with the Mouth.
Estranged from Vanessa, who thinks he’s dead, he searches for Frances, the only person who can right the wrongs done to him and give him back his life. Decked out in red leather suit that resembles a Spider-Man ninja costume—Why is it red? “So bad guys can’t see me bleed.”–he adopts the alter ego Deadpool.
“Deadpool” is unlike any other origin story. It’s a snarky, violent, fourth-wall-breaking collision between “Van Wilder” and Marvel Comics. The opening credits–which scream the movie stars God’s Perfect Idiot, A Hot Girl, A British Villain, A CGI Character and features a Gratuitous Cameo–set the tone. This isn’t your grandfather’s superhero movie. With one bloody shot across the bow “Deadpool” makes the other Marvel movies look a little less Marvel-ous. No joke is too crass. No lines are left uncrossed. Where the last couple of Marvel superhero films have felt like odes to market research, “Deadpool” feels like an antidote to the repetition of recent superhero offerings. Politically incorrect and rowdy, it’s a down-and-dirty movie that has more in common with “The Toxic Avenger” than “Iron Man.”
This may be the role Reynolds has been waiting for. It mixes-and-matches his skill at dropping a one liner with his physical side and finally gives his bland leading man mien some edge. Self-effacing, he pokes fun at his other attempts at superhero notoriety. “Please don’t make this super suit green or animated,” says the former Green Lantern and suddenly we forgive his past transgressions.
“Deadpool” won’t be for everyone. It’s occasionally a little too rude and crude, bloody and bowed for it’s own good but at least it tries to do something a little different in the well-worn context of the superhero genre. It exists in a meta universe where Deadpool is aware he’s in a movie–“Whose BLEEP did I have to BLEEP to get my own movie?” he asks.–while another character suggests the name Deadpool “sounds like a franchise.” I hope so. Like them or not, superhero movies aren’t going anywhere soon but at least every now and again there may be a new “Deadpool” film to shake things up a bit.