Here's a short list of a few of the creative ways Deadpool kills people in his new movie (warning: very, very mild spoilers):
- Shot in the head.
- Shot in the chest.
- Stabbed with a sword.
- Decapitated with a sword.
- Dismembered with a sword.
- Smashed into a sign on a highway overpass.
- Incinerated in a controlled explosion.
- Crushed by a flying slab of metal.
- Crushed by a car.
- Crushed by a truck.
- Crushed by a safe.
- Crushed by a Zamboni.
"You're probably thinking, 'This is a superhero movie but this guy in the suit just turned the other guy into a fucking kebab," quips a masked Ryan Reynolds after impaling some poor hired muscle on his trademark swords in the film’s mega-popular red band trailer. "Surprise: This is a different kind of superhero movie."
Reynolds is right. Amid the extreme, cartoonish violence and sex that mark a departure from 20th Century Fox's vaguely coy Marvel productions (namely the X-Men universe, where this film is set), Deadpool offers up a brilliantly chaotic approach to the costumed crusaders of the past, faithfully translating the elegant insanity that made Deadpool such an unique comic book character into the craziest and most unusual film of the year. There’s more blood, sex, and foul jokes than you can shake a Chimichanga at — and it’s glorious.
To be fair, this movie isn't for everyone. In summoning Wade Wilson — the special forces operative turned super-powered mercenary and batshit crazy ‘Merc With a Mouth’ by the same deranged scientists who gave us Wolverine — from the comic book page to star in his first movie (“Franchise!” he jokes, winking at the audience), director Tim Miller and screenwriters Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese inherited an almost predictable flavor of filthy humor that can and will land poorly on more puritanical ears. TJ Miller recently revealed some of the dirtier jokes left on the cutting room floor, but rest assured: the manic banter of Wilson and his assorted seedy friends resembles a Frankenstein's monster that emerged after Judd Apatow and Adam McKay got shit-faced and farted out a superhero film. At any minute, I expect Wade to turn to the screen and yell, “The Aristocrats!”
But this isn't necessarily a bad thing in the context of Deadpool’s movie-driving mania, perfectly telegraphed by the smug but punchable face of Ryan Reynolds. The more enjoyable reprieves from bloodshed in Deadpool come from the meta-comedy of his insanity: Wade knows he's in a movie, and he really, really wants you to know that he knows too. The opening credits, set in the infamous highway sequence flogged to death in the movie’s marathon promotional blitz, is a tongue-in-cheek "fuck you" to the Hollywood machine that left the film in development hell for years, implicitly designed to connect with teen boys feeling their rebellious oats. Despite this heavy-handedness, the jokes are damn good, especially the sly digs at 20th Century Fox’s disastrous X-Men Origins: Wolverine that sewed Wilson’s mouth shut in his first on-screen debut as Deadpool. The trailers promised an unusual superhero movie, and director Miller and his team delivered.
Strangely, Wade’s insanity means that Miller and company could actually get away with a cast of almost entirely underdeveloped and completely expendable supporting characters. Morena Baccarin delivers a warm, if hackneyed, performance as Wade’s love interest, and TJ Miller’s Weasel is a the most foul-mouthed sidekick in the history of superhero films. But the film's sneering, boring villains aren’t really explained outside of the fact that they are Bad People. Not that it matters, though: the final showdown between Deadpool and Ajax (Ed Skrein), with the super-strong Angel Dust (Gina Carano), steel-skinned Colossus (Stefan Kapičić), and angsty Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) in the mix, delivers the super-powered slugfest that we came to the movies for in the first place.
In fact, the biggest real flaw of Deadpool has nothing to do with the movie itself. The marketing campaign has been so thunderous, so aggressive, that the film is bound to leave some theatergoers disappointed. And with good reason: if you've seen the trailers, you've basically seen the entire movie. The bulk of the action and storytelling takes place on that highway overpass, an action sequence that evolved out of test footage that leaked years ago. The armed throw-downs are enthralling, and the audience of critics at my screening laughed the entire way through the film's filthy smorgasbord of jokes, but it felt like the steady drumbeat of Deadpool marketing gave away the entire store for free.
Sadly, this is becoming more common, especially with superhero flicks recently — just look at the all-spoilers trailer for Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Perhaps that's a testament to the moment costumed heroes are enjoying in American pop culture: you can basically give the story away for free, and people will still show up for the spectacle anyway. And if there’s one spectacle sure to keep your attention for two hours, it’s Deadpool.