Who is Deadpool? The Merc with the Mouth? The best thing to come out of Rob Liefeld's pencil? The bastard love child of Spider-Man and Snake Eyes?
Something incredible has happened. Ryan Reynolds has finally found a vehicle worth his smartass talents: bringing Deadpool to life and giving the superhero genre just the right smack it needs.
What makes this Deadpool different? He's Canadian (even Regina gets a shout-out). He has a mutant healing power and likes to kill people — which makes him Wolverine in a Santa suit.
But the film's real super power is its hard-fought-for R rating (18A in Canada). It's well deserved. This is a movie with more dick jokes than an Andrew Dice Clay marathon. But it's also more than just potty-mouth machismo. (For that, go see Kick-Ass. No, wait. Don't.)
This R-rating is a symbol of a film franchise taking chances. In the superhero movie world, PG-ratings are shackles of oppression. Paired with a $200 million US-plus budget, The Avengers, The X-Men, etc. are forced to play it safe.
With a budget hovering around $50 million, however, Deadpool is considered a boutique operation. The expectations are lower and the leash is looser. 20th Century Fox clearly understood how they fumbled the character's first big screen appearance in 2009's X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
Here, under the helm of visual effects artist-turned-director Tim Miller and the screenwriting duo behind Zombieland, the irreverent chimichanga-gobbling clown prince from the comics is back — and his timing couldn't be better.
With Captain America: Civil War and Superman v. Batman looming on the horizon, we're heading into another wave of Comic Book Movies Get Dark and Serious. But as Zack Snyder and co. prepare the next chest-thrusting faceoff, Deadpool skewers the competition.
With quips as pointed as katanas, Deadpool flays everything from the tangled continuity of the X-Men films to Reynold's own cinematic stumbles. True to the comic, the title character gleefully smashes the fourth wall with abandon. The film is so consistently irreverent, the only disappointing moments are when Deadpool succumbs to the obligatory origin story: Mercenary falls in love. He gets cancer. Evil British villain gives him powers and scars his face.
Deadpool sets the tone early on with a hilarious opening credit scene that lists the generic characters we're about to meet (i.e. The sexy chick. The funny friend.) The movie tries to have it both ways — mock the cake and eat it, too. Or shoot it. Or eat it, shoot it a little, smear it on the lens and then do a dance while listening to Salt 'n Pepa.
What ultimately holds Deadpool together is its giggly energy. Our hero is a little deranged, very angry and kind to the right people. Add in Morena Baccarin as one of the more sexually liberated girlfriends in Marvel Comics-inspired movie history, Leslie Uggams as the blind roommate who keeps 'Pool in his place and Brianna Hildebrand as the sneer-powered Negasonic Teenage Warhead and the result is a fresh superhero flick in an increasingly stale genre.
RATING: 4 out of 5 stars