Deadpool: Marvel’s Merc with a Mouth stars in middling superhero comedy

(Photo courtesy of Creative Common)

After having accumulated an unsuspected and mind-blowing worldwide box office total of over $300 million in five days, nearly everyone has seen the latest and arguably most divisive superhero film to date – “Deadpool.”

If you are one of the few who have yet to see the film – get outside your cave and catch some sun, you agoraphobe – you have undoubtedly been told all about it. That the film is either the greatest superhero movie of all time or that it is among the most – if not the most – obnoxious comic book motion pictures of all time.

Well, since I care deeply about you and the hard-earned money you plunk down at your local cineplex, let’s get down to brass tacks – “Deadpool” lies somewhere in the middle of those wildly opposing views.

The brainchild of Marvel Comics’ writer Fabian Nicieza and illustrator Rob Liefeld, the irreverent super-powered antihero Deadpool first emerged on the scene in 1991 and has charmed and mortified readers since.

With a reputation for breaking the fourth-wall in his comics – Deadpool is known to look directly at readers and deliver sarcastic commentary about his own stories – the self-titled “Merc with a Mouth” has been wildly popular since his debut. However, what has made the character successful in comic books has proved to be a bit of a roadblock in filmic depictions of the character.

The less said about Deadpool’s first onscreen appearance in the abhorrent cinematic disaster “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” the better.

However, this time around, actor Ryan Reynolds has been given free rein to give a straight-from-the-comics portrayal of everyone’s favorite potty-mouthed pansexual assassin, and for the most part, it’s a fun time. Reynolds is clearly having a ball maiming foes, cracking endless genital jokes and mocking the countless superhero films which have come before.

Despite several laugh-out-loud gags, “Deadpool” often feels vapid and pointless. The film is shockingly simplistic in the story department. The makers of the film also seem to think it’s cleverer than it really is. No, making fun of the fact your plot and the characters of your movie are clichéd – as it does during the opening credits – does not make “Deadpool” subversive.

That’s perhaps the most frustrating part about “Deadpool.” The creators were clearly competent and self-aware enough to point out how formulaic the movie’s story is, but were too lazy to go the extra mile and, you know, create a film that wasn’t so predictable. It coasts on Reynold’s charming performance and never fully lives up to its potential.

So, if you’re looking for a movie that will revolutionize the superhero genre, this isn’t it. However, if you want a few solid laughs and like cartoonish violence, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better movie to see in theaters right now.

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