Deadpool tries very hard to convince us that “this is a different kind of superhero story.” He’s only half right.
Stuck in development hell for years, Deadpool got the go-ahead because footage from one action sequence was leaked, prompting the studio’s acquiescence to legions of fans who finally thought they were getting the Deadpool movie they’d so long been denied.
Since then, one of the best marketing campaigns for a film in recent memory has assaulted our senses, with Ryan Reynolds in full form as the title character he’d clearly have the time of his life revisiting in any number of sequels. Brazen, breaking the fourth wall and playing oh-so-well to the collective movie-goers consciousness, Deadpool jumps between the X-Men universe and ours to lampoon and bombast the clichés of now heavily-saturated superhero flicks.
This is why it is such a shame that when you strip off the one-liners, the faces-to-camera and the exaggeratedly-nonchalant attitude of its protagonist, Deadpool is in so many ways that same, safe, superhero action movie you’ve grown tired of seeing over and over again.
British villain, Ajax (Ed Skrein), promises to cure our hero’s terminal illness and bestow him with untold abilities. If this sounds like Reynold’s critically maligned Self/Less from 2015 you’re not wrong. Attempting to satirise the superhero genre by listing in the title credits “a British villain” and “a hot chick,” in spite of its oft-stated self-awareness, Deadpool still sails too close in style and structure to the films it tries to parody, featuring a more than obvious third act twist and an ending with the destruction of a major piece of real estate only slightly different to finales we’ve seen before.
The elongated origin story rendering itself the most humourless part of the script, Deadpool could have erred to the ethos of Edward Norton’s The Incredible Hulk and jumped straight into the action, rather than focusing on a prelude similarly depicted only a few years ago in a less than enjoyable film.
The promise of a more prominent role for a female lead, with Deadpool’s pre-op fiancée (Morena Baccarin) claiming during trailers that she’s “played a lot of roles; damsel in distress ain’t one of them,” was let down by her ending up as exactly that.
Deadpool is most thrilling not when it tries to be something greater and too often falters, but when it delivers its biting moments of dialogue or revels in throwaway pop-culture gags (including an inspired post-credits sequence) which typified its now instantly recognisable promotional campaign.
A treat to see a worthy iteration of Deadpool on the big screen regardless, opting to couch the film in the safe superhero format resulted in a movie that was not nearly as subversive, nor enjoyable as its main character had the scope to be.
Deadpool is in cinemas now
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