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Published February 14, 2016

After twelve years of development hell, Deadpool has finally arrived. It’s silly, it’s fun, it’s fourth-wall-breaking and it’s not meant for children; it’s exactly what it needed to be. The film’s not perfect, of course, but successes like these are what is required in order to open the gates for more adult adaptations of these characters with whom many comic-book fans grew up.

Of course, the issue on the other side of the coin is the sheer number of comic-book movies that are already being pumped out of Hollywood. Too many? Absolutely. Ryan Reynolds alone has played four separate characters adapted from comics, two of them Marvel creations and none of four good. He reprises his role from one of these films for Deadpool, and while it’s not the most unique of films, it’s at least a breath of fresh air in regard to its adult material (and the aforementioned fourth-wall-breaks).

The timeline jumps around a lot, in my opinion fairly unnecessarily. The film opens with its title sequence, for instance, which gloriously showcase a vehicle in the process of a horrible rollover, with the titular character in the midst of the chaos. These opening titles are great, and quite amusing (“Directed by An Overpaid Tool”), but we’re then taken to our first scene: a cab ride to the overpass from which Deadpool launches himself into the vehicle, wrestling with its inhabitants before flipping it. Why not just have the exact same title sequence here? There are several of these very minor little strangenesses. It feels as if the cast and crew were so relieved that they were finally making the movie that none of them dared question any artistic choices for fear that the whole thing would be called off.

Chronologically, the story of Wade Wilson is an unseen military career, followed by a half-hearted stint beating up stalkers for money, during which he meets a beautiful prostitute (Vanessa, played by Morena Baccarin) with whom he has a year-long relationship before discovering that he has terminal cancer. He is recruited into a program under the pretence of being cured, but is instead tortured mercilessly. The torturer and antagonist of the film is Francis Freeman, or Ajax, played by Ed Skrein. Freeman is attempting to awaken a potential mutant gene within Wilson, which could grant him one of any number of powers, so that he can be fitted with a control collar and be used as a weapon.

The mutant ability that manifests is a healing factor similar to Wolverine’s. Well, that’s lucky. Don’t ask me what would’ve happened if he got the ability to shoot fireballs – he wouldn’t have been of much value to them for very long with that terminal cancer happening. This is the first of really only two issues I have with the plot of this film. Why were they only recruiting the terminally ill if they had no idea what powers would manifest, and were lying about a cure? It just doesn’t make any sense.

 

The other point that makes no sense comes after Wilson manages to escape the facility and spends the next year seeking vengeance upon Freeman. After discovering Wilson’s identity, Freeman inexplicably kidnaps Vanessa. There are two reasons the bad guy in a movie would go after the hero’s love interest. Either he wants to hurt the hero, or he wants to lure the hero into a confrontation. If it’s the first, why not just kill her? If it’s the second, that’s even more stupid because Deadpool’s sole goal for the entire film has been to track down and kill Freeman anyway. He didn’t need any extra motivation.

Despite producer Simon Kinberg‘s insistence to the contrary, the film does not seem to share continuity with the X-Men films. Yes, Days of Future Past did create an entirely new timeline, and yes, that may explain the character of Colossus suddenly having a new actor and accent, but it doesn’t explain Wade Wilson’s age. We’d previously come across the character in X-Men Origins: Wolverine (which I reviewed here), and while you could make the argument that the new timeline never had the Weapon XI program, that doesn’t explain how Deadpool is roughly the same age in 2016 as he was in 1973 – especially considering that  Wilson in Origins was at least in his 20s in 1973 and this is the same year that Wolverine travels back and initiates the new timeline, so his birth couldn’t have been shifted a couple of decades forward, either. There’s no way to rationalise it except to say that it’s separate from the other films, but they’re not going to do that because they need to maximise their box-office draw with tie-ins, and so the X-Men franchise’s impressive penchant for plot-holes will endure.

Obviously, though the main selling point of this movie was always going to be its humour, and on this it delivers. Some of the comedy falls flat, but with the sheer number of jokes the ratio of funny to not-funny seemed pretty decent and I did laugh out loud more than once. The film was also riddled with pop-culture reference, some subtle and some not so much. A huge improvement over Deadpool’s appearance in Origins, it’s about time Reynolds has a decent entry in the vast tornado of superhero films with which we’re currently being inundated. Tim Miller shows promise in his directorial debut, and now that I’ve seen it, I can finally stop worrying over whether or not it’ll be good. It’s good.

I’ve never had a chimichanga. It’s something that I need to do.

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