When the very first chords of Juice Newton’s “Angel of the Morning” begins to play in the opening ‘credits’ of Deadpool, and we catch a glimpse of Ryan Reynolds Sexiest Man of the Year PEOPLE cover in the midst of some slow-mo action, a suspension of disbelief enters the minds of everyone watching. But instead of the juvenile humor some might expect from this ‘anti-superhero’ film, what you get is an incredibly effective — and deliriously meta — comic-book film bursting at the seems with deft editing with wit and comedic timing only Ryan Reynolds and few others can give.
Deadpool, a foul-mouthed mercenary caught on the wrong end of a bargain, has been a longtime favorite among comic aficionados, known for breaking the fourth-wall and constantly making dick jokes. Created by artist-writer Rob Liefeld and writer Fabian Nicieza, the humorously flawed character of Wade Wilson comes alive in this self-referential extravaganza, snubbing his nose at other shinier blockbusters — his biggest rivals being the X-Men, who wax poetic on the value of heroism while trying to recruit him.
Right off the bat, we know Deadpool isn’t going to be like the other Marvel films — or just about any films — we’ve seen yet, what with the entire opening credits being one giant poke at big studios, crediting first-time director Tim Miller as an “overpaid tool” for one and claiming the film was produced by “asshats.” And ultimately, as the title suggests, the is a movie about one man, Wilson, “merc with the mouth” played expertly as Reynolds. So much that the film seems to be more of an opportunity for Reynolds to give one giant comedic monologue than anything else; but we’re OK with that.
It’s hard to like a guy who threatens people for money and bets on his bar buddies lives in a “dead pool,” but when the guy romances Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), a hooker with a heart of gold, by playing arcade games with her in order to get to know her, we kind of think he’s cute. Because this is an R-rated film, this fuzzy-bunny feeling ends with a dizzying series of sex scenes that span a year — one for each ‘holiday,’ including the International Women’s Day which leaves us pondering what exactly would have happened with that strap-on, and whether the film would delve into Wilson’s bisexual nature. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t.
But this “regular scheduled programming” gets interrupted, when Wade’s wisecracks belie a serious threat: “el cancer,” as he calls it, because it sounds less scary in Español. And, because this is a Marvel origins film that pokes fun at stereotypical Marvel films, Wade Wilson has to go through torture by sadistic villain Ajax, really named Francis (Ed Skrein), who got his evil-sounding name from a cleaning product, in the hopes that a high stress situation would invoke some mutant genes to potentially save his life.
Although the efforts are successful, an oxygen-denying process monster leaves Wilson screaming like the monster of Frankenstein, emerging with a scarred body. Since Deadpool is all about Reynolds, and we’re deprived of his good looks, we get to focus the rest of our attention on his sharp tongue and mad sewing skills — choosing a red spandex to keep the baddies from seeing him bleed, a wise idea.
Deadpool is pretty straightforward: a guy gets a raw deal and seeks revenge on the people who wronged him, while saving his girl from their clutches. Throw in a Russian Colossus (Stefan Kapičić), a gothic Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), who’s powers includes tweeting under pressure, and a blind version of Batman’s Alfred (Leslie Uggams) and you have enough support characters to provide our anti-hero some much-needed help. After all, he does keep forgetting his pink gun-stuffed duffel bag in the taxis.
A lot goes down in the 107 minutes, but this short running time is all Deadpool needs to lay waste to nearly ever superhero series in existence, all while providing stream-of-conscious commentaries on all manners of pop culture effluvia from the Taken films, Judy Blume, Sinead O’Connor and even the actual X-Men films. (One of the most absurd moments takes place when a wrist-and-ankle-crushed Wilson is pondering whether or not he’s being dragged to see McAvoy’s or Stewart’s version of Professor Charles Xavier.)
Case in point, Deadpool is one of the most visually stunning, superbly edited and generally well-crafed R-rated films, which will make you laugh so hard you’ll wish you’d worn the “brown pants.”
Follow Sara Snoddy on Twitter at @Sara_Snoddy.
To contact Lifestyles editor Tanner Dedmon email firstname.lastname@example.org.