With the immense popularity of Marvel and DC superhero movies, it was only a matter of time before there was a comedy take on the genre, aware of the genre's issues and silliness.  And while Kick-Ass existed in its self-contained, somewhat realistic universe, Deadpool is firmly set in the Marvel universe while happily breaking the fourth wall and making fun of itself.
Told in non-chronological order, Deadpool has what could be a fairly traditional origin story.  Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is a former special forces member turned mercenary, trying to help people while insisting he's not a good guy.  (Wade also never seems to stop making jokes and smart-ass comments.)  He winds up starting a romance with Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), a hooker with a heart of gold and a love of snark.  Their romance is interrupted by the discovery that Wade has stage four cancer that's spread all over his body.

Wade leaves Vanessa, wanting to spare her from his deterioration.  He winds up submitting to an experimental treatment from Ajax/Francis (Ed Skrein), who offers not just to heal Wade but also to give him superhuman abilities.  However, while the process works -- Wade gets the ability to heal from any injury or illness, including his cancer -- there are several catches.  The treatment is incredibly sadistic, and Ajax (who has his own superpowers: enhanced reflexes and inability to feel pain) plans to control his successful test subjects (including Wade) and sell them to the highest bidder.  Also, the treatment leaves Wade horribly disfigured, and while Ajax can cure that, he chooses not to.  Of course Wade escapes, taking on the identity of Deadpool and planning to track down Ajax (killing and torturing along the way to get information) and force him to fix his face; he also decides not to see Vanessa again until his face is fixed.

If this sounds like a typical superhero movie, that's because it doesn't include the humor (not to mention massive amounts of both violence and profanity) which starts with the opening credits and rarely lets up.  While there are plenty of comic book references, the scattershot jokes range from 1980s movies to 1990s singers to, yes, Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman.  The X-Men's Colossus (a cgi character voiced by Stefan Kapicic) is a goody two-shoes, while his trainee Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) is a sullen teenager.  There's also plenty of comedy coming from Deadpool's bartender friend Weasel (T.J. Miller) and blind roommate Al (Leslie Uggams).  There's plenty of talking to the camera, referring to the movie itself (whether turning it into a franchise or not being able to afford more X-Men characters).

Deadpool is a mix of action and comedy, and both work pretty well.  Ryan Reynolds is perfectly cast as the merc with a mouth who never seems to stop joking or irritation those around him; however, virtually every other character is paper-thin, easily summarized in a single sentence (or sentence fragment).  But while the movie can be superficial, it's also pretty entertaining and funny.  Deadpool provides some nice escapism, mixed with lots of blood and cursing.

Overall grade: B+
Reviewed by James Lynch

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