With an opening credits sequence that insults every person who would be fawned over in a different movie, Deadpool confirms, right at the beginning, that it is exactly what it’s been sold as: A lesson in not taking yourself too seriously. If only the Indian censor board had paid more attention.
Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is a snarky, smooth-talking, gunslinging mercenary with enough hilarious quips to make stand-up comedy a very viable alternate career option. His super anti-hero (he’s definitely not a superhero- a fact which the movie makes every effort to drill into its audience) alter ego Deadpool is more or less the same with added red spandex and angst.
Audiences are bored of origin stories. Nobody wants to watch a teenage Peter Parker go on a school trip and get bitten by a radioactive spider again. Fortunately, being a self-aware, fourth-wall breaking, meta-everything movie, Deadpool avoids the slow start of other origin flicks and jumps right into the cool post-origin action.
For sheer entertainment value, the first action sequence in which our anti-hero attempts to kill his arch-nemesis Francis (It’s a Deadpool movie. Did you really think the villain would be named something impressive like ‘Dr Doom’?) cannot be beaten. It is second, perhaps, only to the Quicksilver scene in Days of Future Past. It achieves visual beauty, bone-chilling intensity and plenty of violence without resorting to over-the-top effects or losing the rest of the movie’s trademark wittiness. Michael Bay could take notes.
The end of the sequence, unfortunately, brings both a flashback to Deadpool’s beginnings and the start of the movie’s slow spiral into forgetting what it was meant to be. The origin story is too long, too sentimental and too reminiscent of Wolverine. In fact, if not for the continued humour and Ryan Reynolds keeping alive the spirit that the movie started with, you could be forgiven for thinking that you had walked into another Wolverine movie. The banter between Wade Wilson and his love interest Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) does also help in keeping the movie alive. As the origin story wraps up, the movie makes a valiant effort to revert to its initial attitude and for the most part it succeeds but never quite regains the wackiness of the first half an hour.
All of this is not to say that Deadpool isn’t interesting or entertaining. It is peppered with brilliantly funny moments even at its worst and does an excellent job of making fun of Hollywood and the entire superhero genre. Much of the credit for this clearly belongs to Ryan Reynolds and his straight-faced delivery of acerbic one-liners aimed at everyone including himself. The meta humour is subtly woven into the script and never feels like it’s drawing attention to itself but the fourth wall breakage felt gratuitous and shoved in simply because it is a trademark of the comic book Deadpool.
The villains, Ed Skrein playing Ajax/Francis who is almost indistinguishable from any other evil doctor and Gina Carano as his large and “well-endowed” sidekick Angel Dust, are bland and forgettable. The secondary characters on Wade Wilson’s side are much more interesting even if they are only B-list X-Men. Negatonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) is actually probably closer to being on the D-list but her name alone qualifies her for a role in the movie.
Deadpool’s downfall, in the end, was a marketing campaign that was too successful in telling the audience about what kind of movie it would be. It oversold itself on its ‘Deadpoolness’ so much so that the audience cannot help but be disappointed during the parts when the story lends itself to the silver screen out of necessity. It might have been a better experience if it had come as a pleasant surprise to an audience expecting a run-of-the-mill superhero movie.
And where were the chimichangas?