Deadpool: the hero Regina needs, like it or not

FILM by Jorge Ignacio Castillo


Cineplex, Southland
3.5 out of 5

Until Deadpool, Ryan Reynolds’ career was derailing. The number of high-profile bombs (R.I.P.D., Self/Less, The Change-Up and above all Green Lantern) he’s starred in would have sent any other actor to oblivion (see Taylor Kitsch).

Part of the problem was Hollywood kept misusing him: the Vancouverite’s sharp comic timing went to waste as Reynolds was shoehorned into movie after movie he had no business being in. Anybody who saw The Captive knows what I’m talking about.

Reynolds himself reversed his downward trajectory by fighting to revisit an old role that was badly bungled the last time he played it. We first met Deadpool (in movies) as a supporting character in 2009’s god-awful X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Buried under a large cast and shackled by a PG rating, bad script and the studio’s profound misunderstanding of the character, the first film incarnation of the merc-with-a-mouth pissed off fans and got indifferent shrugs from everyone else.

Seven years later, Ryan Reynolds and Mr. Pool get another chance: superhero movies have achieved critical mass and are often money in the bank. At the same time, they’re (arguably) getting blander and more repetitive: The Dark Knight’s gloominess is now a cliché and the Marvel Cinematic Universe is starting to bloat.

Also, after the abject failure of Fantastic Four in every imaginable aspect, Fox is in the right state of mind (i.e. scared and desperate) to embrace radical change.

Funny it turns out “radical change” means making a movie that’s more like the comics the character comes from. Should be obvious, but apparently it’s not. This time out, Deadpool looks, talks and acts like the comic character. The result: the movie made almost $265 million worldwide by the end of Valentine’s Day.

Deadpool is an origin story: just as Regina native Wade Wilson gets his life together — hot girlfriend, plans to start a family, steady income from nobly-committed murders — he’s diagnosed with terminal cancer.

In despair, the mercenary undergoes an experimental treatment that creates super-soldiers by awakening latent X-Men type mutations. Like that’s going to turn out well.

The procedure works but leaves Wade horribly disfigured from head to toe to wiener (oh, hello!), and he’s too chicken to return to his lover. Too self-centred to become a superhero — much to the chagrin of X-Man Colossus (also looking like he does in the comics, what’s going on here?) — Wilson uses his newfound powers to find the man responsible for his pain and, perhaps, in possession of a cure for his ugly mug.

Deadpool’s beauty crusade, however, doesn’t stop him from having fun along the way.

While the setup is fairly standard, Deadpool breaks with tradition by messing up the structure: most of the film takes place during a couple of days, constantly interrupted by long flashbacks. Also, the film breaks the fourth wall so often it might as well not be there. Deadpool constantly speaks to the audience and it’s beyond irreverent — I can’t recall a movie ever that trashes its studio, its own cast and crew, and the franchise that spawned it so gleefully. We’re all aware of the epic levels of inconsistency in the X-Men movie universe, but only Deadpool asks “Stewart or McAvoy?” when Colossus wants to introduce him to Professor X.

This is clearly the part Reynolds was born to play, and he is properly supported by T.J. Miller (Silicon Valley) and Morena Baccarin (Homeland, Firefly). Even the rather average villain (Ed Skrein, from the forgettable Transporter Refueled) is enough of a prick to keep the audience on Deadpool’s side.

The film could have used a few more X-Men (as pointed out by the antihero himself), but overall Deadpool is a blast that should open the door for more adult, high-profile comic-book adaptations, not to mention sequels. Who knew he had it in him?