The third time’s the charm for Ryan Reynolds.
After two failed runs at superhero glory, the Canadian-born actor finally strikes gold with this weekend’s release of Deadpool, a film more than 15 years in the making.
Reynolds has already had one crack playing Marvel Comics’ resident “merc’ with a mouth,” but this iteration – essentially a complete reboot – feels much more authentic Wade Wilson, the Special Forces operative turned self-healing renegade and occasional vigilante.
While a Deadpool origin film has been in the works since 2000, it wasn’t until the secret leaking of screen test footage spread like wildfire across the Internet during the summer of 2014 that the ball really got rolling.
Reynolds and his band of misfit toys – including first time director and visual effects guru Tim Miller – propelled a once-dead character to what could very well be an Iron Man like fame, though Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark would never say half the s*** that comes out of Deadpool’s mouth (including s***)
Deadpool is the perfect star vehicle for Reynolds, who can maximize his wry wit and charm (applied in the film as snark) within the comic book world’s most wisecracking anti-hero. The passion Reynolds exudes for the character radiates every minute he’s on screen, elevating even the more generic superhero scenes crafted out of a cookie-cutter superhero script.
Reynolds’ previous two outings in comic book movies – a CGI-laden turn as Green Lantern and an universally derided first go round as a different version of Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine – are frequently lambasted by screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (though Reynolds probably had to get some jabs in himself).
Ironically, Deadpool doesn’t fully learn the lesson of bad CGI heroes, leaning heavily on a poorly computer generated metal monstrosity – the X-Man Colossus – to provide some muscle and moral compass for anti-hero Wilson.
It’s clear that 20th Century Fox wanted to tie Deadpool in with its X-Men franchise as soon as possible – and even insists on pushing the issue by having Colossus repeatedly beg Wilson to join the mutant super group. As all the other studios attempt to play catch up to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, what they all too often forget is that franchise building takes time and each film and major character need time to breath on their own.
Colossus – and to a lesser extent the much more enjoyable Negasonic Teenage Warhead (aka the girl who tweets) – don’t really have a real place in the first Deadpool film and feel incredibly crammed in.
Ed Skrein, most famous for his role in the recent reboot The Transporter: Refueled, underwhelms beyond even the low bar he has previously set for himself as Deadpool’s primary villain, Ajax. More a casting issue than an acting one, Skrein simply isn’t capable of matching wits with Reynolds.
For as good as so much of Deadpool is, a terrible villain limits just how good a superhero movie can be. Simply put, Skrein can’t cut the mustard (and yes, there probably should be some double entendre joke here to keep in with the film’s snarky sex humor, but it just isn’t in me.)
Not all the supporting cast underwhelms as veteran comedian TJ Miller is on point playing Wilson’s equally snarky bartender/best friend and Morena Baccarin is a solid simple choice to play an overly generic damsel in distress girlfriend who may or may not be in distress.
Both actors are able to go toe to toe with Reynolds trading verbal jabs, which is proving essential to the success of any major characters in the franchise moving forward.
The film enters a much more fan-friendly environment for cruder, darker subject matter thanks to the cult hit status of British indie dark comedy Kick-Ass and Marvel’s two Netflix miniseries – Daredevil and Jessica Jones – which are considerably more violent than the Avengers’ solo and team-up movies.
Parents of younger potential audience members need to take caution and probably should view the film first before allowing their child to see this hard R-rated film. While not as overtly crude as the subpar Dirty Grandpa with Zac Efron and Robert De Niro, Deadpool has more than its fair share of double entendre sex jokes, hardcore violence and general “potty humor.”
The sheer amount of Easter eggs and random pop culture references – akin to the tone of Marvel’s surprise smash hit Guardians of the Galaxy – lends itself to multiple viewings, though the monotone plot line will likely become tiresome midway through a second screening. There’s signs of greatness within Deadpool, especially when Reynolds isn’t tied down by CGI metal men or hacky, second rate villains.
An inevitable sequel is already in pre-production and should be fast-tracked for a quick turnaround with a possible $65-70 million opening four-day weekend on track. Stick around through the credits for just enough more snark and a possible spoiler for Reynolds’ second go round in red spandex.
Grab some chimichangas and head to theaters for an unsurprisingly fun time. If you can handle the gore, language and snark, you won’t be sorry.