Nimble, witty and downright rib-tickling, Tim Miller’s Deadpool takes on the superhero genre with postmodern sharpness.
The Unmasked Marvelby Alexa Dalby
CAUTION: Here be spoilers
Totally over the top, clever, self-aware and with a wisecracking post-modern superhero – no, wait – “I may be super but I’m no hero” – who sets out to subvert the Marvel superhero franchise, Deadpool is a really fun movie – though with some amazingly violent action sequences. That’s clear right from the start with the tongue-in-cheek generic titles. It allegedly stars God’s perfect idiot, a hot chick, a British villain and “it’s written by the real heroes here”. Indeed it is. The script, by screenwriters Rhett Reece and Paul Wernick (Zombieland) crackles with laugh-out-loud one-liners for star Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool, as time and again he breaks the fourth wall in what is, as he says, “My own movie!”.
The technically spectacular fight scenes make prolific use of freeze frame and slo-mo, starting with a brutal showdown on a high-level freeway which segues, in mid impaling, into a flashback of Deadpool’s life as special forces operative turned mercenary Wade Wilson before he became a mutant superhero. It subverts the superhero schtick by showing him at the sewing machine designing and making his own Spandex costume – red, so as not to show the blood. There’s plenty of sex of all kinds in his relationship of equals with Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), but also love. His cancer diagnosis is handled unexpectedly sensitively. Even this flashback is post-modern. “Now we’re all caught up”, Deadpool tells us as we pick up where we left off, mid knife thrust.
The story arc is revenge, so critics may wonder what makes this different from the superhero norm. It’s the knowing, self-referential superstyle, of course. The unorthodox cancer cure Wilson sought has turned him into the mutant he is now, with super-self-healing abilities and thus an inability to die – but its unwarned-of side effects took his hair and gave him skin like an old avocado, so ugly that he can’t walk down the street without horrifying passers by. It seems now “The only option – star in your own horror films”. The generic British villain who experimented on him (evil scientist Ajax, Ed Skrein) has also given himself regenerative powers and the two remain locked into a titanic battle for the rest of the movie, with X-Men metallic Colossus (voice of Stephen Kapicic) and moody teen Sinead O’Connor lookalike Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) on Deadpool’s side – though he refuses to actually join the X-Men – and super-strong Angel Dust (Gina Carano) with Ajax.
There are plentiful pop culture references throughout to pick up on, the humour always seems to hit the spot, Deadpool’s cracks to camerawork, and there’s a brief cameo from the Marvel man himself, Stan Lee. Musically, it’s eclectic with some surprising use of Wham! Astonishingly, it’s director Tim Miller’s first feature, though he has been award nominated for his animations. Deadpool’s Wikipedia entry says he’s the only superhero that knows he’s on Wikipedia. It figures. Marvel connoisseurs may carp that its subversion of the genre is all smoke and mirrors and it’s too clever for its own good. But for someone like me who hasn’t immersed themselves in the genre, nimble, witty Deadpool has the potential to make previous Marvel superhero movies seem lumbering and ponderously humourless in comparison. Right to the end of the credits.
Deadpool is released on 10th February 2016 in the UK