“Deadpool” begins with an opening credits sequence that lists each member of the creative team not as people but rather as their archetypes – along with plenty of gratuitous winks to star Ryan Reynolds and the celebrity culture at large. The montage more or less represents the film as a whole: clever but not ingenious, distinct but not original.
Reynolds struts around the film like he is the first person to don a superhero suit and not fit the mold of a straight-laced all-American macho man. The foul-mouthed average joe act was done in 2010’s “Kick-Ass,” and the relentless smart-ass routine has been beaten into the ground by Robert Downey, Jr. beginning with 2008’s “Iron Man.” There’s nothing particularly novel about the “merc with a mouth” (that stands for “mercenary,” apparently) although Tim Miller and his band of four credited screenwriters certainly try their best to convince audiences otherwise. The level of self-satisfaction and self-effacement proves irritating to a fault, though.
For all the Deadpool character tries to subvert the superhero cliches, his story sure plays out a lot like one. “Deadpool” is a garden variety origin story, from Wade Wilson’s humble beginnings to love interest (Morena Baccarin’s Vanessa) down to acquisition of special power and, ultimately, mastery of that gift. The film relies on formula as a narrative throughline so it can indulge in self-referentiality and humorous sideshow diversions. If “Deadpool” is a reaction to the banality of the genre, it does little to improve upon the recognizable flaws.
That also goes for the character of Deadpool, supposedly a more “progressive” superhero with his ambiguous sexuality. But he speaks with a higher voice. He totes around a pipe cleaner penis. He makes frequent Freudian slips about anatomy. For heavens’ sake, HE PLEASURES HIMSELF WITH A STUFFED PONY. This is not the introduction of a pansexual hero. “Deadpool” just repackages old prejudices and appeals to homophobic instincts by making any non-normative behavior from Wade into the butt of a joke. It’s comedy as con artistry. C+ /