When Deadpool shoots, he kills, and when he pokes at the conventions of the superhero movie genre, he twists his katana. Tim Miller’s Deadpool is a satirical exercise in excess along the lines of Paul Verhoeven’s original Robocop—it is gratuitously violent, profane, and self-aware. And like Robocop, Deadpool manages to orchestrate outrageous and oversized riffs on genre hallmarks into something that works better and functions more enjoyably than that which it skewers. Deadpool is an ideal superhero movie.
The superhero genre of movies has long deserved a kick in the ass, for all of its craven pandering, low-stakes bombast, inert storytelling, and two-dimensional characterization. Watching an Avengers movie is like watching a bunch of people in spandex treading water for two and a half hours until (spoiler alert) they save the world. Again. Our hero Dead, meanwhile, shits in the pool for giggles.
He makes it all look so easy—obnoxiously easy, at first. “Oh hello,” says Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool, breaking the fourth wall as his comic book cognate is known to do. “I know, right? Whose balls did I have to fondle to get my own movie?” Wolverine’s, as it turns out. So much of the humor here derives from stating the obvious, from merely acknowledging the setting, or saying something discordantly banal. In the middle of an explosion, as the scenery around him slows to the customary speed, highlighting the gravity of the ensuing chaos, Deadpool interjects levity: “Shit. Did I leave the stove on?” he wonders aloud. The movie’s very title sequence sets up the roasting atmosphere: “Starring God’s Perfect Idiot,” is how it credits Reynolds before going on to list, “A Hot Chick,” “A British Villain,” “A CGI Character,” “A Moody Teen,” “A Gratuitous Cameo.” This movie, per itself, was “Produced by Asshats,” “Directed by an Overpaid Tool,” and “Written by the Real Heroes Here.”