The Marvel Comics character at the center of it is an ultraviolent, omnisexual assassin who knows he’s a fictional character and doesn’t shy away from telling you — his audience — about it. He’s decidedly unheroic, occasionally schizophrenic, and exhibits the sort of behavior typically associated with sketchy, trenchcoat-wearing strangers in public parks.
And yet, we should be immensely grateful that someone out there saw fit to give him his own movie.
Set in the same universe as the X-Men franchise, Deadpool follows former special forces operative Wade Wilson as he attempts to track down the man who nearly killed him with a secret, experimental procedure that turned his body into a permanent mass of scar tissue but also granted him a superhuman healing ability. Along the way, he has run-ins with legions of bullet-sponging bad guys and mutants — both ally and enemy — including a pair of X-Men intent on recruiting him to their superhero team.
From its opening moments, Deadpool is a movie very different from anything else out there — and that includes all of the comic-book movies before it. Simultaneously low-brow and brilliant, it plays with the conventions of the genre and everything we’ve come to expect from movies, gleefully reveling in superhero and action-movie cliches in one breath and skewering those same tropes in the next. It tears into pop culture, only to put it on a pedestal shortly thereafter. At one point in the film, it even goes so far as to ponder how it ever got made.
Amid all of this self-aware cinema, though, it’s also a very viscerally gratifying adventure that finds a seemingly endless array of gory ways for Deadpool to dispatch his enemies — all while delivering a never-ending stream of commentary on, well … everything and anything that seems to cross its titular protagonist’s fractured mind.
In that respect — and so many others — it does a pretty admirable job of replicating the experience of reading Deadpool’s comic-book adventures.
Given everything the average person has seen of Deadpool before setting foot in the theater, it feels redundant to say that Ryan Reynolds was made to play Wade Wilson. Anyone familiar with the film’s prolific marketing campaign is well aware of how invested Reynolds is in the role, and what unfolds on the screen is just confirmation that Reynolds’ years of campaigning for the role were justified. He’s such a good fit for the part, in fact, that the film leaves you wondering whether the last 10 years of his career have just been one long audition for the role of Wade Wilson.
It all begs the question: Is Ryan Reynolds the perfect Deadpool, or is Deadpool the perfect Ryan Reynolds?
Okay, so that’s probably a bit more cerebral than Deadpool warrants, but it’s all part of the fun. And make no mistake: Deadpool is very, very fun.