Spoiler warning: these reviews reveal plot twists.
Heavy-for-hire Wade Wilson is diagnosed with terminal cancer so signs up for a radical new treatment. It saves his life but turns him into a disfigured mutant superhero…
Get used to multiples names… Note: the witty credits sequence uses the following labels.
* God’s perfect idiot… Wade Wilson aka Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) is a mercenary who earns money by scaring off bullies. After learning he has cancer, he volunteers for an experimental treatment. However, after the bad guys reveal it’s actually a ruse to turn him into a slave, he seeks revenge using the nickname Deadpool… This is a second go at playing the character for Ryan Reynolds, although this movie ignores the events of X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009).
* A hot chick… Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) is a prostitute who Wade meets, falls in love with and wants to marry. She’s a classic hooker-with-a-heart, but also gets some droll comedy. Although not a part of this story, Vanessa is herself a superhero (called Copycat) in the source comic. Olivia Munn was offered the role but turned it down, saying she didn’t want to play ‘the girlfriend’. So instead she played Personality-Free Sidekick #38 in the next X-Men film. Her loss. Vanessa’s a better character.
* A British villain… Francis Freeman aka Ajax (Ed Skrein) is the bad guy. A mutant scientist who wants to create an army of slaves, he can’t feel pain. He has a sidekick called Angel Dust (played by former MMA fighter Gina Carano).
* The comic relief… Weasel (TJ Miller) runs a bar frequented by freelance mercenaries and is Wade’s laidback, wisecracking buddy.
* A moody teen… Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) is a young member of the X-Men, who turns up to help stop Wade’s carnage. She’s a minor character in the comic books and has been given new powers, personality and backstory here. The writers just liked the name, it seems.
* A CGI character… Colossus (Stefan Kapičić) is another member of the X-Men. He’s been in the film series a few times, of course, though sadly the original actor refused to appear this time round because they wanted to dub his dialogue.
* A gratuitous cameo… See next section.
Stan Lee cameo: We spot the great man in the strip-joint scene. “You can’t buy love,” he says. “But you can rent it for three minutes.”
Crossovers and continuity: There are a few elements that are contradicted or expanded in future movies.
* Deadpool featured as a secondary character in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. He was even played by Ryan Reynolds. But while there are gags referencing that movie – one about sewing up his mouth, for example – fictionally speaking this is a reboot.
* Colossus, as mentioned, was in four previous X-Men movies (2000-2014). In those films he was played by Daniel Cudmore, who was offered this gig but turned it down. We also visit Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, though all the famous characters are out. (When told he’ll meet Professor X, Deadpool asks whether it’ll be “Stewart or McAvoy” – a gag about the two actors who play the character.)
* The post-credits scene is a spoof of probably cinema’s best ever post-credits scene, the one at the end of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. It also jokingly teases a possible Deadpool sequel.
A comic-fan writes… Because I know next to nothing about the source material, I’ve asked my friend Rebecca Levene to talk about this film: “Is Deadpool the best of all the X-Men movies? I’m sure Deadpool himself would say so, and that’s good enough for me. When Deadpool was first introduced to the Marvel comics universe in the 1990s he was just another ultra-macho, gun-toting antihero drawn in the inimitable over-muscled style of Rob Liefeld. Thankfully all that remains of that original character are the pouches. And everything about this movie, from the ultra-violence and the sweariness to the unexpected sweetness and of course the regular fourth-wall breaking is true to the spirit of the current comics Deadpool that Ryan Reynolds so vocally adores. This movie was a labour of love, and while it’s rough at times, noticeably lower budget than any others in the current run of the franchise, that love wins out. Which, bizarrely enough, is also the message of the movie itself.”
Review: Lots of swearing, lots of graphic violence, lots of risqué jokes, lots of pop-culture references, lots of clichés being spoofed, a bit of nudity, and a character who talks to the camera, knows he’s in a film and even references the actor who’s playing him? This is 100 minutes of fun. It’s routinely laugh-out-loud funny and despite all the in-jokes and asides and references (of which there are *dozens*) there’s genuine emotion on show too. Wade and Vanessa have tremendous chemistry, and like in Galaxy Quest or The Lego Movie, the tone might be irreverent and sarcastic yet you also care about the central characters. That’s a great trick. The film’s mid-range budget – you could make four of these for one X-Men: Days of Future Past – might show a bit too often, but if anything the done-on-a-laptop CGI just makes the experience more likeable. It’s an underdog with attitude.
Nine bits of Vancouver standing in for New York out of 10