Glaring into the camera after mercilessly executing a barrage of gun-wielding goons, Deadpool sniffs the fresh smoke from his gun, sighs and exclaims to the audience "Oh, I'm touching myself tonight." This fresh, self-referential humour is exactly what Deadpool intends to showcase, as opposed to the meaty and tiresome Marvel adventures of late. Ryan Reynolds isn't just 'playing' Deadpool, he IS Deadpool through and through. He swears, has sex, is known for breaking the fourth wall, cracking jokes in the blink of an eye and always maintains a filthy sense of humour that will be familiar to the die-hard fans of the character. It's a shame however, that the film often gets bogged down with an origin story that it intentionally trying to parody.
The film begins with the famous "Merc with a mouth" already in full suit, slicing and dicing his way to a man he only refers to as 'Francis', before the meta humour kicks in and he's telling us about who he had to 'fondle' to get his own movie. (Hint, it rhymes with Polverine). From there, we are shown in disjointed flashbacks to how he became the Deadpool we all know and love, cue the aching pains of an origin story that can't even be saved by the many laugh-out-loud moments that Reynolds conjurs up. In short, Wade Wilson is a former special forces operative-turned-mercenary that is diagnosed with terminal cancer and submits himself to excruciating experiments from Ajax (Ed Skrein) that end up with Wade looking horribly disfigured but being able to heal himself at a rapid rate. From there, the plot is as wafer thin and predictable as any Marvel film in the last 10 years. But Reynold's relentlessness in the characterisation of Deadpool distracts you from any of that, you're more focused on the rapid-fire quips he's firing rather than what he's doing. You can tell he's having the time of his laugh under the costume, and shows great care about the character and therefore the fans, as really, the film is for them.
The problem is, the meta-humour and the constant wise-cracks take a hit in consistency and pace. Moments of pure brilliance such as Deadpool wondering out of James McAvoy and Patrick Stewart, who will be Professor X, or in the same scene bemoaning the fact due to budget restraints, only two X-Men are present throughout the whole film, are undercut through dull scenes of Wilson attempting to find his girlfriend, or Ajax plotting his next move against Deadpool. Though it's genuinely funny to see the character stick two fingers up at the studio that gave him his own film, and it reinforces the character the fans want to see, it becomes as formulaic and as tiresome as the source material it is trying to poke fun at. One can only suppose the studio needed a more watered down Deadpool (let's not discuss Deadpool's 'other' on-screen appearance) to appeal to a more mass market audience.
Because this is Deadpool's film, the rest of the cast become completely sidetracked and forgettable. Ajax is the typical two-dimensional 'British Villain' and T.J Miller has a few lines that warrant a chuckle, but is in no league with Reynolds. Funnily, Wilson's girlfriend Vanessa (Morena Beccarin) matches him quip for quip and showcases enough sporadic humour that make her interesting, it is just a shame she isn't given more screen time and is instead reduced to the eye-rolling 'damsel in distress' role.
Brilliantly funny in moments and incredibly faithful to the source material, Deadpool will no doubt please die-hard fans of the character but unfortunately the disjointed pace, formulaic and wafer-thin plot and lack of consistent meta-humour means we still haven't got the Deadpool we truly know and love. However, Reynolds easily holds his own as the wise-cracking merc, and has a blast with it, which makes it a refreshing highlight in the Superhero genre.