Decades ago, Hollywood figured out that when cinematic cash cows have been pretty much milked dry, it’s time to for self-parody. It was inevitable that even Frankenstein, Dracula and the Mummy would meet Abbott and Costello, right? The Marvel brand has already dipped its toe in satire and snark with Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man, but it now takes a full-on swan dive with the insanely violent, irony-drenched and very funny Deadpool.
It was a pretty cheeky move to cast Ryan Reynolds as the motor-mouthed muscle-for-hire who can wreak astoundingly graceful carnage on his enemies and almost instantly heal his body, but not his badly scarred face. Remember, Reynolds landed in movie jail for the failure-to-launch superhero epic The Green Lantern. And this is the guy they hire to play the mercenary in a no-holds-barred Marvel takedown? Well, you can stop judging. You can also stop with the Ryan Reynolds jokes.
The movie, directed by animator and visual-effects artist Tim Miller, is filthy, degenerate and seriously pervy, and Reynolds – decked out in red and black spandex, sporting two katanas and white canvas where eyes should be – is every bit as flip, funny, nasty and self-deprecating as you’d want. Adopting a sing-songy voice to match what co-creator (with Rob Liefeld) Fabian Nicieza calls the character’s “omnisexual, pansexual, heterosexual, homosexual, etc. aspects,” Reynolds nails the role every bit as much as Robert Downey Jr. has made Tony Stark/Iron Man his own.
The jokes in Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick’s screenplay are of the everything-but-the-kitchen sink variety, and the riffs on pop culture, Marvel, lewd sex and in-jokes come fast and furious. Everything and everybody is a target, and most of the wisecracks land — especially in the nervy scenes between Reynolds and his best friend, hilariously played by T.J. Miller, and the very R-rated hot stuff with the hero’s badass hooker girlfriend (Morena Baccarin, nicely matched with Reynolds).
The action stuff, featuring expert villainy from Ed Skrein and Gina Carano, is pretty standard-issue, as is the plotting. But along the way, Deadpool serves up so much liberating insanity and muck, you just hope Marvel will bankroll an even dirtier sequel. Hell, let Deadpool finally put a hard X in X-Men.