There’s a new Marvel Comics summer-blockbuster-caliber winterbuster in town—a fast, funny, freak-flag-flying, four-letter-word-filled flick, making fun of the formulaic franchise from whence it spawneth’d, and featuring Spider-Man’s rude, crude, socially unacceptable punk cousin, Deadpool (not his real cousin).
Up until now, we’ve had do-gooder superheroes—it was just a matter of time before we started seeing some less wholesome ones. Not that Batman’s exactly a wholesome dude. But “Deadpool” is the darkest—and, sadly, most fun—superhero movie you’ll have seen, hands-down, to date; hence the R rating. Why is that sad? We’ll come back to that.
The Deadpool Super Suit
Deadpool looks sort of like a Spidey-ninja in a red/black Kick-Ass suit. He’s got a Spider-Man-type smart-mouth, but on steroids (filthy-pottymouth), same flip-and-spin gymnastic supernormal powers, minus the web-slingability. Add two .44 magnum pistols, and (also a lá Kick-Ass) crossed, back-scabbarded Japanese katana swords.
Deadpool, aka Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds), is a super buff ex-spec-ops warrior with 41 confirmed kills, who was abused as a child. Still has traces of acne. Kinda says it all right there, doesn’t it? While hilarious, he’s not really a nice guy. He’s more than a little unhinged, and we catch up with him in the middle of an unhinged revenge-binge.
The very chatty, very funny Deadpool tells us his origin story, while running around, destroying thugs, cars, and bridges. Chatty’s an understatement; this guy’s like a cross between Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, turned up to 10.
Deadpool’s actually more like Daffy; not sly and fiendishly proactive like Bugs, but more reactive and outrage-thh’d and thhhh-ubjected to shame-inducing victimhood—like getting shot point-blank in the behind.
Which—like Daffy—runs off him like water off a, er, duck’s back, without incident (but with Daffy’s ruffled neck-feathers) because he’s got a certain superpower in common with that other sabre-wielding mutant, Wolverine. That’s all I’m givin’ ya.
So, we’re in the middle of the revenge story, with flashbacks to show how he got here, but to really understand how it is with Wade, we first have to understand Vanessa.
Vanessa (Morena Baccarin, the prim military wife in “Homeland”) is—in the vernacular of the legions of pubescent boys who’ll be scheming to sneak past “Deadpool’s” R-rating, and, unbeknownst to mom, ogle this movie—AWESOME.
At a mercenary and hitman bar, Wade and Vanessa meet cute using vintage Monty Python, whose-childhood-was-worse, extended-reality, one-upmanship banter.
She’s Deadpool’s soulmate. Which means she’s just as nutty, geeky, twisted, and dirty-minded as her spec-ops, costume-wearing boyfriend, and she’s got the Bride-of-Frankenstein-streaked hair and tattoos to prove it. And super-long lashes. And a great tan, and—she’s boy-bait, basically.
After a honeymoon that might have landed an X-rating three decades ago, Wade ends up in the hospital. Not from overindulging in honeymoon activities, but from terminal cancer.
Wade’s got a good reason to fight the big C: Vanessa—duh? And so he agrees to be a lab rat in an insane experiment, which ultimately cures him. Does it ever. Via torture. Pain is necessary, you see, in order to jump-start the latent gene mutation. It also leaves him looking like Freddy Kruger. Somebody’s gonna pay for that. Which brings us full circle to the big payback the film opens with.
Is Deadpool an X-Man?
Is he mutated? Yes? Well alrighty then. By the way, this whole Deadpool-turns-mutant section is not the X-men’s Weapon-X program, but a lucrative super-slave venture, run by the dangerous, pretending-to-be-a-doctor mutant Ajax (Ed Skrein of “The Transporter Refueled”). And the movie itself is the first Marvel film to trash the X-brand with vehement irreverence.
So Then What?
That’s pretty much it; otherwise it’s spoilerville. Reynolds holds the center with a powerful need to raze his Green Lantern debacle to the ground, verbally spoofing that failed franchise on numerous occasions.
Reynolds, a natural rom-com talent who spent years trying to define his groove, has come full circle to the “Van Wilder” motor-mouth humor that put him on the map as an exceptionally good looking, exceptionally funny leading man. Reynolds gets great assists here from T.J. Miller as his deadpan, wise-cracking best bud.
All in all, Deadpool’s got action, very funny humor, graphic (albeit cartoon-y) violence, foul-mouthery, nudity, and, um, fooling around. But here’s the real warning: If super-snide, juvenile, uncouth banter isn’t your bag, and if Reynolds’ Van Wilder-on-steroids is fingernails on a blackboard to you, you’ve definitely come to the wrong place—because it’s that guy, all the time.
That’s the guy your 14-year-old, gangling, voice-changing, size-13-sneakered, peach-fuzz-‘stached male offspring will be loving, and you will be hating, while attempting to cover his eyes as he shouts, “Mom!” with his voice starting in the bass register and ending up in the soprano.
What it does have going for it, from a mom’s perspective, is a genuine love story. But again, while this is kind of a love story for you, mom, it’s really more about what junior imagines to be an excellent love story. On second thought, don’t even bother trying to chaperone. He’s going to, by hook or by crook, find a way to see it without you anyway. Here’s why:
Dante’s “Inferno” is perennially popular. Dante’s “Purgatorio” less so, and pretty much nobody reads Dante’s “Paradiso” anymore. Why’s that? Because tales of angelic choirs and virtue and heaven are boring in this time of Fukushima’d dead oceans and what the Chinese call the “Last Havoc.” Compared to the rings of hell—are you kidding? Demons, torture, shrieking, ghosts, skeletons, the giant head of Satan munching on the body of Judas—does it get any more exciting than that? Not for testosterone-addled teenage boys.
So while junior’s enjoyed the virtuous Captain America, and the quippy but essentially decent Iron Man, Deadpool is Dante’s “Inferno.” Once he gets a load of Deadpool, he’s going to be addicted.
Don’t mean to be a downer, but that’s not a thing to ululate about with great rejoicing. It’s sad. There’s serious cultural dumbing-down going on here, not to mention the inoculation of a psychotic mindset that glides unnoticed into the still somewhat-innocent minds of our youth, under the guise of shock-and-awesomeness and, especially, hilarity.
On a lighter note, like Dante in the inferno, sometimes we have to go through hell to get back to heaven. Junior will appreciate the virtuous superheroes again in the future. Let’s hope.
Director: Tim Miller
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, T.J. Miller, Gina Carano, Leslie Uggams, Brianna Hildebrand, Karan Soni, Jed Rees, Stefan Kapicic, Randal Reeder, Isaac C. Singleton Jr.
Running Time: 1 hour, 48 minutes
Release Date: Feb. 12
Rated 4 stars out of 5