It wouldn’t be entirely unfair to say Deadpool, as a movie, exists entirely for and in spite of itself. Entering into a superhero climate that more often than not embodies what is now considered a model family blockbuster, Deadpool is crude and gory and anything but kid friendly. It’s a movie nobody thought could be made through its necessity of an R rating, yet here it is, and somehow what it is is even more shocking than that it exists at all. Deadpool isn’t just fun, it’s a complete rethinking of what a superhero movie can and should look like. It is, essentially, what Deadpool as a character is to his superhero peers – unheroic, selfish, crass, excessively violent – but far beyond nailing the basic characterization of Deadpool, director Tim Miller has mirrored the character’s style and irreverence upon every aspect of a film that is almost excessively fun to watch.
Though Deadpool is effectively the origin movie (which may be a moot point given the uncertainty of a sequel), it’s method for delivering what some may consider mandatory backstory is so clever that it rarely feels as if you are actually watching yet another prelude. The fourth wall breaks within the second scene and from then on a bombastic crash course through flashbacks, internal monologues, and straight addresses to the audience themselves manages to fill in the plot between decapitations and dick jokes. Even more delightful: Deadpool’s (or Wade Wilson’s) lifestory isn’t marred with drama and self-loathing which then compels him to turn to vigilantism and redeem himself. No, he’s just a regular guy that looks like Ryan Reynolds, makes mad love to his geeky stripper girlfriend, Vanessa, and acts as a lowkey hitman. His life is almost obnoxiously fantastic, or it would be if Wade and Vanessa were not the most charismatic and adorable couple to ever grace a superhero movie (which is, admittedly, a low bar). Too bad cancer has to poke its ugly head into the picture, and then through a series of events best left unsaid, Deadpool is born and he’s still adorable.
So much about what Deadpool is sounds like a horrific mixture of lowbrow humor, too much testosterone, and cheap shots at easy targets. But even if that description isn’t necessarily wrong, what makes Deadpool so enjoyable is how sharp its writing actually is, not needing to dissolve into misogyny and racist asides for the sake of establishing a character who lives for the sake of irreverence (though I could have gone without the occasional transphobia). The style of humor on display here is absurdly crude, but it is also absurd and astoundingly clever, if not the joke itself then at least its timing and delivery. Deadpool delivers a near constant stream of one liners, most focusing on his or someone else’s dick, but I can’t recall a single joke that didn’t have my theater laughing well past the point of polite acknowledgement.
There is so much energy moving through every scene that it causes even the most abhorrent of gags to come off as hilarious, largely because the film never slows down and expects you to laugh. There is nary a wasted second in Deadpool’s runtime despite its plot being near nonexistent and its dialogue consisting primarily of insults and innuendos, and it’s because its pacing is so exceedingly well controlled that you are never overwhelmed by the sheer stupidity of it all, but you also aren’t bored because everything that’s happening is like an outrageous car crash you can’t look away from as it flips you off before exploding into the sexiest damn explosion you’ve ever seen.
And let it not be said that for a film which could have so easily been nothing but close ups of Ryan Reynolds’ crotch, Deadpool is gorgeous to behold. Superhero movie cinematography has been barely limping along for some time now, but maybe more so than any superhero movie since Spiderman 2, Deadpool manages to invoke a constant since of purpose and momentum to its camera work and framing, at times approaching Wes Anderson levels of multitextured cinematic cleverness. It is rare that any modern film allows a scene’s camerawork to stand in for dialogue, but Tim Miller never overwhelms a scene by trying to make it to more than it needs to. Deadpool is, on a lot of levels, much simpler than many recent superhero films, but it does so much more with what it has and never feels lacking in its construction (even when it jokes to the contrary). It also has easily the best soundtrack of any superhero movie that has come or is likely to ever come, and is the first time in ages I have actually paid attention and enjoyed the music of a superhero film, rather than cringe at the inescapability of omnipresent Inception horns.
Deadpool is inconceivable and that’s definitely part of why it’s great, but mainly it’s because it doesn’t allow the improbability of this movie coming to fruition to define it. It recognizes that this may very well be Deadpool’s only shot on the big screen, so rather than wasting time developing a universe that doesn’t need to exist here, or boring the audience with an origin story that doesn’t get interesting until it’s over, or reveling in the gratuitousness of its own budget, Deadpool has fun with itself. It doesn’t care if it’s unlike any superhero movie you’ve ever seen, in fact that’s all the better. It’s a movie that is as passionate as the comic fans who never expected this to actually happen, as unpredictable and delightful as the character which spawned it, and as sure to horrify ignorant parents as you could possibly hope for.