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The filthy flick changing the superhero genre

Deadpool review
20th Century Fox
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deadpool reviewFrom the minute the opening credits kick off in all their sarcastic, self-referential glory, it’s clear Deadpool is not your average superhero movie.

Comic book in-jokes and dirty, teenage boy-inspired gags punctuate the entire film, delighting hardcore fans and occasionally confusing the average cinema-goer.

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It’s a drastic departure from the heroes we’re accustomed to seeing on our screens. A bronzed, hammer-throwing Chris Hemsworth as Thor, for example. Or hunky Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. Not to mention a sexed-up Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow.

Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool is none of the above. For starters, he’s ugly (disfigured in the mutation process), deeply flawed (he has a love for drugs and alcohol, among other issues) and straight-up rude.

A foul-mouthed mercenary fighter happily living with his girlfriend, Wade Wilson’s cancer diagnosis leads him to an unsanctioned treatment program which transforms him into an indestructible mutant whose face looks like, in the words of his best friend, a mashed up avocado.

It’s not exactly a run-of-the-mill origins story.

As such, it’s somewhat unsurprising that it took a lot of convincing to get this unusual comic book adaptation to the big screen.

According to Reynolds, the film lay idle for 11 years after initial pitches failed to generate interest among production companies.

However, when test footage was leaked online in 2014, fans went crazy and the film received the green light within 24 hours.

Unfortunately for the undoubtedly brilliant people behind Deadpool, 11 years of pressure and expectation may have raised the bar a little too high for them to reach.

Ryan Reynolds as Wade Wilson enters treatment.
Ryan Reynolds as Wade Wilson enters treatment.

While the film is a valiant attempt to redefine the dull, repetitive superhero genre, a better script could have imbued it with the highly quotable, instantly iconic scenes it was lacking.

That’s not to say there aren’t some memorable moments dotted through the delightfully filthy movie, which scored an R rating in the United States (something it has been wearing as a badge of honour ever since).

The violence almost reaches Tarantino levels of gratuitousness, with Deadpool skewering a bad guy “kebab-style”, and the sexual references border on the ridiculous. At one point, after slaughtering a series of nemeses, Deadpool turns to the camera and declares: “I’m touching myself tonight.”

That’s the other notable and somewhat unsettling element of the film: its lead character frequently breaks the fourth wall – staring down the barrel of the camera to riff on the considerably larger budgets of other Marvel movies, or to play on the stereotypical tropes usually pulled out in superhero flicks.

The first time it’s used the effect is jarring and off-putting, but once you settle into the movie’s bizarre rhythm (read: there is none) it’s a refreshing departure from the steely reserve of Hollywood’s typical mutant crime fighter.

Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) and his girlfriend Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) before his transformation.
Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) and his girlfriend Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) before his transformation.

This has a lot to do with Reynolds, who is a rare breed of leading man. While he fills all the criteria to be another Hemsworth or Hardy (ripped physique, offensive good looks, charm by the bucketload, talent and versatility), Reynolds is, unashamedly, a big weirdo.

While he looks like a Ken doll, the 39-year-old doesn’t quite fit into the leading man mould. The wisecracking, vaguely eccentric Deadpool might be the closest Reynolds has ever come to being himself on the big screen.

It’s clear that Reynolds is right at home among this cast of relative unknowns – a highlight is British actor Ed Skrein as Deadpool’s chiselled adversary – and his sassy interactions with both his friends and his enemies are where most of the movie’s humour can be found.

The film really hits its stride in the second half as Deadpool mercilessly ridicules his blind, elderly housemate, trades insults with his bartender best friend and nonchalantly riles up his enemies.

Unfortunately for fans already campaigning for a sequel, this movie is sure to sideline plenty of viewers. Those under 15 are automatically ruled out, as are those who are easily offended. Anyone without a basic understanding of the comic book universe might find a lot of jokes flying over their head and people who hate blood or gore are a no-go too.

But for those looking for something a little different to the endless X-Men sequels we’ve been forced to endure over the last few years, this movie might just be the ticket.

Warning: some readers may find this trailer offensive.

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