‘Deadpool’ is a gleeful mockery of the superhero genre

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This article was originally published for the University of Denver newspaper, the DU Clarion. It has been republished here with permission. The original can be found here.

A fourth-wall breaking, vulgar and sarcastic superhero tale, “Deadpool” is the origin story of Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds, “The Proposal”), a wise-cracking ex-mercenary diagnosed with terminal cancer. Desperate to survive and stay with the woman he loves (Morena Baccarin, “Homeland”), Wilson agrees to be part of a twisted experiment to make him superhuman. When the experiment leaves him horribly disfigured and the sadistic head of the lab, Ajax (Ed Skrein, “Game of Thrones”), leaves him for dead, Wilson takes up the mantle of Deadpool and vows to get his revenge.

While that origin story may sound cliché and utterly devoid of humor, that’s where the utter brilliance of “Deadpool” comes in. The film takes the rote nature of the oversaturated superhero genre and flips it on its head, rejecting every facet of the family-friendly and massive franchises that have taken over Hollywood in the past decade. Nearly every second of the film is a rude delight, with its over-the-top violence, cheeky humor and meta structure flipping the bird to the studios who refused to take a chance on the film for years.

Reynolds, who was born to play this role, fought hard to get the film made and the long wait paid off. He completely immerses himself in the role, using his trademark charm to get the audience to love a character who has little interest in anything outside of making a joke of everything around him as well as slice and shoot his way through anyone in his way. It takes serious comedic chops to take on a character as quick-witted and irreverent as this, and Reynolds is more than up to the task.

As for the rest of the ensemble, each actor is fully committed to his or her respective roles, playing an important part in furthering the satiric style of the film. Baccarin is admirable as Reynold’s costar, matching his humor and wit with every beat while bringing a refreshing edginess to the damsel in distress role so many superhero films make use of.  Deadpool’s only friends, bartender Weasel (T.J. Miller, “Silicon Valley”) and blind, elderly roommate Al (Leslie Uggams, “Roots”) are excellent comedic foils to Reynold’s more spastic performance, bringing out a different humor and energy to the film that diversifies its comedy. X-Men Colossus (Stefan Kapi?i?, “24”) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Briana Hildebrand, “Annie Undocumented”) are more mainstream heroes that serve as weapons in the film’s battle against vanilla superhero franchises but also have unique personalities of their own. Villains Ajax and Angel Dust (Gina Carano, “Haywire”) are less original, but they play well against Reynolds at least in terms of physicality and dryness.

As for the film as a whole, “Deadpool” falls victim at times to its minor adhesion to formula, but its willingness to take risks and stick to its bad-mannered ways negates any of its banal shortcomings. It has a clean, crisp style that is always entertaining to watch and serves its purpose to highlight one of the most unique action characters ever conceived. In the end, “Deadpool” sticks it to the man and ends up being one of the boldest superhero films ever put to the screen, a powerful example of what can happen when Hollywood remembers to make fun of itself.

Ryan Ninesling