“Wait! You may be wondering why the red suit? Well, that’s so bad guys can’t see me bleed,” says Wade Wilson/Deadpool. He points to a bad guy and continues, “This guy’s got the right idea. He wore the brown pants.”
The Marvel Comics character known as Deadpool (aka Wade Wilson) made his debut in The New Mutants #98 25 years ago. Created by Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza, the “merc with a mouth” would grow to become popular as an antihero who constantly breaks the fourth wall with readers and is aware that he’s a fictional character. The character made his cinematic debut in 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine and was portrayed by Ryan Reynolds (he played Wilson prior to his involvement with the Weapon X program). Fans weren’t thrilled with the direction the film took with the Deadpool character late in the film, but Ryan Reynolds assured fans that there would be a solo film that would be more faithful to the comics (a film that would eventually take seven years to get made). I’ve recently seen Tim Miller’s Deadpool twice on the big screen, and it was an action-packed, hilarious experience (I still can’t believe that 20th Century Fox released it with an R rating; not that I’m complaining).
2016’s Deadpool follows former special forces operative-turned-mercenary Wade Wilson as he learns of a cancer diagnosis that will eventually kill him. He undergoes an experimental treatment by a secret program, the Workshop, that will supposedly cure his cancer and give him mutant regenerative abilities (which it does), but learns too late that he is to become a super slave. Heavily scarred and left for dead after attempting to escape, Wilson seeks revenge against those working for the Workshop and adopts the moniker Deadpool. The stakes get raised when their leader Ajax kidnaps Wilson’s ex-girlfriend, with whom he’s been trying to reconnect. Miller brought together a fine cast that includes Reynolds (as Wade Wilson/Deadpool), Morena Baccarin (as Vanessa Carlysle), Ed Skrein (as Ajax), T.J. Miller (as Weasel), Gina Carano (as Angel Dust), Brianna Hildebrand (as Negasonic Teenage Warhead), Stefan Kapicic (as the voice of Colossus), Leslie Uggams (as Blind Al), Jed Rees (as the Recruiter), Karan Soni (as Dopinder), and a hilarious cameo by Stan Lee. Reynolds is perfect as the antihero Deadpool, bringing loads of humor and enough sympathy for the character. Baccarin brings strength to her role as Wilson’s girlfriend, holding her own with Reynolds in the scenes they share and proving she’s much more than a damsel-in-distress. The supporting cast shines as well, especially Kapicic, whose Colossus plays straight man to Deadpool, and Soni, who keeps ending up getting stiffed for taxi fare every time he drives Deadpool to a fight.
Director Miller takes advantage of the film’s R rating, showcasing Deadpool’s kills graphically and comically (my favorite kill is Deadpool killing a bad guy with a Zamboni while laughing about the fact that he’s using a Zamboni as a weapon). The screenplay by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick is funny, profane, and delivers the superhero action while telling a love story (as twisted as it may be), and succeeds in telling Deadpool’s origin story in a creative way. Sean Haworth’s production design creates a contemporary, dark and gritty world (I especially liked Sister Margaret’s bar, Blind Al’s house, and what appeared to be a decommissioned Helicarrier). Ken Seng’s cinematography enhances the tone of the film with a muted palette (the brightest-looking shots take place at the X-Mansion). Bill Corso’s makeup design is first-rate (Wilson’s scarred physical appearance is the big highlight), and Tom Holkenborg (aka Junkie XL) delivers an action-packed and dramatic score. Julian Clarke’s editing moves the film at an excellent pace, and ensures that the flashbacks go back-and-forth smoothly. Tim Miller’s Deadpool thrives as a self-parody of superhero films while delivering outrageous superhero action and fourth-wall breaking comedy.