Superhero movies these days are a dime a dozen—ironic, considering the millions of dollars that are spent yearly making them. Marvel and DC comic book franchises have dominated this decade. We as movie-goers have become so obsessed with super-stylish and super-action-packed films that we have failed to recognize how the industry has actually become super formulaic. This is why Deadpool, a movie based on a goofy comic book antihero, stands out from its peers, and why the newest addition to the Marvel movie canon is breaking box office records left and right. Since its clever, risqué ad campaign began, Deadpool promised to be a breath of fresh air from the conventional superhero genre—and it has certainly delivered.
As an audience, it's hard not to laugh at Ryan Reynolds because he is already laughing hysterically at himself. Without spoiling too much, Reynolds portrays Wade Wilson, a hired mercenary who is eventually given the ability to regenerate skin, bones, and muscles at a rapid rate. Deadpool, as a comic book character, realizes he is a comic book character—and Reynolds, as a handsome movie star, realizes he is a handsome movie star playing a superhero. The fit could not be more perfect.
Fans of the comics will be pleased to know that the film stays true to its source material. The main character consistently makes snarky comments to his co-stars and to his audience through countless fourth wall breaks; it takes about two seconds for the film to start poking fun at itself. Actually, the film spends more time doing that than forwarding its own narrative. Deadpool sets out to throw as much shade at typical superhero movies as possible—reminiscent of what the 21 Jump Street films did with the typical “buddy cop” story. In this respect, the film surpasses expectations.
To be clear, Deadpool is still incredibly shallow. If there is any emotion or genuine storytelling, it is decidedly tongue-in-cheek. The experience of watching Deadpool is the equivalent of watching any other superhero movie while seated between Beavis and Butt-Head. Deadpool tickles you until you laugh, and then makes you laugh some more. Above all, however, the film is incredibly self-aware, perceiving itself in a way that most blockbusters like it have completely neglected.
For those who need more than just satire, it still delivers a healthy dose of action. Deadpool earns its R-rating not just for its potty-mouth humor, but for its unrelenting gore, too. The movie offers enough zany fight scenes to keep its viewers’ eyes glued to the screen until the credits roll. Despite receiving criticism as an R-rated superhero movie, it is hard to imagine it as anything but. Love it or hate it, Deadpool serves its purpose. The goal rookie director Tim Miller sought to accomplish was not to alter the superhero movie formula, but instead to defecate all over it. In a way, when you are watching Deadpool you are watching yourself, and you cannot help but laugh at how much of a sucker you are.