Reviewed by 07-Mar-16

Deadpool is funny, but sprinkles a meta-narrative veneer over a remarkably conservative superhero plotline.

So anyway, congratulations are in order to Ryan Reynolds – after Blade: TrinityX-Men Origins: Wolverine and Green Lantern (at least two of which are slyly referenced in dialogue here), he’s finally in a superhero movie that isn’t rubbish. And indeed, one which has taken a shedload of money at the box office. Which will please 20th Century Fox, desperately in need of a superhero hit after Fantastic Four tanked.

Deadpool, the debut feature of animator Tim Miller (which assignment suggests that the studio didn’t initially have a lot of faith in it), is a funny old movie. I’ll confess that the character’s appeal has largely escaped me in the past, but he clearly has a large body of fans, and after the portrayal of him in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which was a travesty, those fans will be pleased that what we have here is much more true to how he appears in the comics.

There’s a lot of stuff here in Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick’s screenplay. There’s breaking the fourth wall, naturally. There’s nudity and swearing, more so than in any other superhero movie you’re ever likely to see (bar Deadpool 2, of course). There is, inevitably, a lot of violence. And a lot of jokes about the X-Men.

But there is also, at the core of it all, a conventional superhero plot, with an evil villain (British, of course). There’s a girl to be rescued (Deadpool’s sexuality is a bit more conventional here than in the comics – indeed, all the pansexuality is more-or-less dropped), played with considerable style by Morena Baccarin, even though she is a bit of a male fantasy character. And, there is, y’know, an actual story – and a remarkably conservative story at that, over which the meta-narrative veneer is sprinkled.

fjicz0dp8udpjpt2wyeeAnd that could be the biggest problem for Deadpool – it’s never sure how much it’s a spoof of the superhero genre, and how much it’s part of that genre. Had the movie let itself go with the meta-scenes even more than it does, then it might have worked creatively a lot better than it does, and been a lot funnier than it is (which admittedly is still pretty funny in a lot of places).

But then again, perhaps it is precisely the fact that it deconstructs the genre, but crucially not too much, so allowing fans of the genre to enjoy it, that is behind Deadpool‘s massive commercial success, which pretty much guarantees that the X-Men won’t be entering the Marvel Cinematic Universe any time soon. This is not a movie for people who don’t like superhero movies and want to see them torn down, but for people who do like them but are prepared to laugh at them. Though, unlike the writers of this article, you need to leave continuity issues at the door – if you’re worried about how this fits in with X-Men: Apocalypse, then you’ve rather missed the point.

For myself, I found Deadpool enjoyable, but not stunningly impressive. The best bits are the opening and closing credits, and make sure you stay for the post-credits scene, which has one of the funniest moments. Reynolds is good, especially considering that for most of the movie he is either wearing a full-face mask, or prosthetics. I do wonder, however, whether the joke can really be eked out for Deadpool 2.

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