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Are You Watching Deadpool or is Deadpool Watching You?

         In 2009, comic book fans were excited for the appearance of Marvel favourite Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. They even got massive Deadpool fan Ryan Reynolds to play the character. Then they saw the movie and quickly wanted a refund; among other reasons for the fact that they got everything about Deadpool wrong. And maybe no one was more upset than Ryan Reynolds himself.
          The fact that 20th Century Fox gave Reynolds another chance to play this character was more than generous. As was the decision to completely reboot the idea of Deadpool for his own feature. And with Reynolds getting more creative control of the character, as well as the film being granted an R rating to better reflect the tone of the comic, and an amazingly impressive marketing campaign including online holiday videos, a cancer PSA, and even a TV spot for The Bachelor, the hype for this film was growing. And now finally Deadpool has arrived, but is it good?
          Wade Wilson is a Canadian (nice!) mercenary who contracts terminal cancer, and in an effort to be cured of it undergoes an operation that to his shock, mutates his cancer to the point that he is permanently disfigured, but has the power to heal himself of any injury. During the process he undergoes severe torture by a scientist who calls himself Ajax but who Wilson tauntingly addresses by his real name Francis. Escaping, Wilson becomes the anti-hero Deadpool and sets on a mission to kill Francis before he can unleash this experiment on anyone else, least of all Wilson’s lover Vanessa.
          The story is very standard in fact in the last act strikingly so to the point that you’d see similar plots in old Superman serials. It’s a pretty general origin story and the beats that play out are easy enough to predict. What drives the film is the Deadpool character who in a word, is fun. Not likeable, but fun to watch in his antics. Reynolds is clearly grateful for this second chance and gives the character an attitude and sense of humour that’s instantly memorable. The supporting cast consists of Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, and T.J. Miller who are all fine but leave almost no impression next to the film’s title personality.
          Another thing that drives this film is the comedy. One of Deadpool’s gimmicks apart from his dark sense of humour and profanity, is the fact that he often breaks the fourth wall (i.e. he addresses the audience directly). And a lot of these jokes work and fit perfectly with the character and tone of the film. But they’re not the best I’ve seen in a movie. What Deadpool has over other comedies that break the fourth wall though is the volume of this kind of humour and variance, with meta jokes popping up in the most unlikely places. This movie may have had the funniest opening title sequence I’ve seen since The Naked Gun. Still I actually preferred the meta pop cultural comedy, and the shots taken at superhero movies. Deadpool not only takes aims at his previous cinematic incarnation, but also Reynolds’ superhero disaster Green Lantern, and even Reynolds himself. Though some jokes and plot points come at the behest of story and character consistency. For every reference to the multiple Professor Xaviers or noting of the fact that only two minor X-Men appear (Colossus and the ridiculously named Negasonic Teenage Warhead), there’s a “hero” joining Deadpool’s vendetta despite having opposing principles. There were also a couple moments where other characters made meta jokes which I felt should have been just Deadpool’s thing. And while the comedy was overall good, it didn’t balance the seriousness as well as it should have. It’s hard to invest in Deadpool having a tender moment with Vanessa after we’ve just seen him make a snappy remark while killing a guy.
          Still though flawed, Deadpool is nothing if not entertaining. I don’t know much about the comics but I think fans for sure will be satisfied (at the very least he doesn’t have his mouth sewn shut!). It’s got moments of sloppiness, but it’s fun and funny; a summer movie in February, and definitely worth seeing.
          Unless your thirteen years old. It’s rated R, and complaining about it is not going to change anything!

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