Adapted from the Marvel Comics series, this is a movie that an ironist or metamodernist would love. It’s a clever, sarcastic superhero movie in which the real hero is the writing. Combine the self-awareness of Kick-Ass with the sarcasm of Iron Man, and ramp it up the verbal mania of Reggie Watts.
Deadpool (the character) was a local mercenary Wade Wilson. “I’m a bad guy who gets paid to f__ up worse guys.” In his spare time he’d hang around a dive bar fighting in a gambling game called the Dead Pool. One day he learns that he has terminal cancer. His girlfriend Venessa says “I love you, Wade Wilson. We can fight this.”
He replies, “You’re right. Cancer’s only in my liver, lungs, prostate, and brain. All things I can live without.”
One day at the bar Wade meets a mysterious gentleman who offers a cure for cancer if he can only submit to some biological mutations. He goes for it and emerges a superhero with a super sense of humor and horribly scarred skin.
The underground biological facility is run by “Francis,” another post-human mutant, but a really bad guy trying to create a mutant army. Wade manages to escape, becomes a reluctant superhero and takes on the name Dead Pool. The rest of the plot is his quest to kick Francis’ ass and get his looks back so he doesn’t have to wear a costume.
I love how the dialog is keenly aware of its rhetoricity, which changes registers according to Deadpool’s surroundings. There’s an avalanche of pop-culture references, from other Marvel projects to cartoons to Transformer toys to bad 80’s rock music. The movie breaks the fourth wall and Deadpool announces how cool this is, even accomplishing it inside a flashback “That’s like sixteen walls!”
Some of the gags fall flat. To my ears, many of these flops were aimed at male teenagers who get a kick out of hearing genitalia mentioned in a movie. But here are some of the cleverer, non-genital jokes I liked:
Deadpool: “I was having a nightmare. I dreamed I took Liam Neeson’s daughter and he was just not having it. He made three of those movies. At some point you have to wonder if he’s just a bad parent.”
Colossus (an X-Men member and ally to Deadpool): “You are gonna talk to Professor Xavier.”
Deadpool: “McAvoy or Stewart? I find these parallel universes so confusing.”
Deadpool: [laughing maniacally] “That’s right! You’re about to be killed by a zamboni! You’re going to die … in like five minutes!”
Colossus: “We can’t allow this, Deadpool.”
Deadpool: “I don’t have time for your X-Men bullshit, Colossus! Besides, nobody’s getting hurt!”
[a dead body falls off an overhead traffic sign]
Deadpool: “That guy was up there before I got here.”