Thursday, February 11, 2016

A dirty-talking origins story from Marvel

Deadpool brings us an energetic but cynical superhero.

I've mostly had my fill of Marvel Comics heroes, even when they strike caustic anti-hero poses as is the case in Deadpool. But fairness compels me to add that, at its best, Deadpool is a winking, sharp-eyed entertainment that turns rampant self-awareness into a sustained goof.

I make no claim to understanding fan boy mentality, but I'm betting Deadpool will strike a nerve with comic-book devotees without generating much by way of cross-over interest.

Stocked with enough sex jokes to make Seth Rogen blush, the movie serves up the kind of R-rated material that's bound to keep everyone's inner adolescent happy as it tells the story of Deadpool, a character Ryan Reynolds first played in X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009).

Reynolds reprises and extends his portrayal of Wade Wilson in an origins story that explains how Wilson became Deadpool, a mutant superhero with a face that looks as if it caught fire and someone tried to put it out with a brick.

So how did Wilson go from being a hunky young man to a superhero so physically repulsive he has to wear a red suit and a mask to cover his body and face.

It's a sad story. After being diagnosed with terminal cancer, Wilson yields to temptation. He agrees to allow a character known as Ajax (Ed Skein) to perform a life-saving procedure on him. It works, but leaves him permanently disfigured.

That's a major problem for Wade, who believes that his girlfriend (Morena Baccarin) most likely will bolt when she gets a look at his defaced kisser.

Reynolds does his best to give Deadpool extra kick as he transforms from a cynical, wiseass mercenary into a cynical, wiseass superhero who's out for vengeance.

At times, Deadpool even speaks directly to the audience, letting us know that his character understands when the movie is doing stupid superhero stuff that threatens to become generic.

Director Tim Miller adds plenty of action, some of it slickly mounted, and includes scenes with X-men: Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Briana Hildebrand) and a hulking creature called Colossus. They try to recruit Deadpool for more noble enterprises than those in which he's accustomed to participating.

A lot of how you react to Deadpool depends on how funny you find it and how taken you are with Miller's approach, underlined from the very start with opening credits that are meant to be taken as a self-referential joke.

I'd put the movie's humor average at about 500, but an excited preview audience probably would disagree with me, and Deadpool surely will score better than Ryan's last foray into the world of comic books, Green Lantern (2011).

With its R rating, snide humor and abundant violence, Deadpool turns its origins story into what looks like an off-the-wall helping of edgy fun. Sometimes, it even is.

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