Deadpool shouldn't work as a character. Created by the notoriously shit Rob Liefield at the height of his nineties excess, Deadpool is hyper-violent, puerile and deliberately offensive. As a comicbook title that repeatedly breaks the fourth wall, mocks the conventions of its medium and genre and pushes the boundaries of what is acceptable for the format, it certainly shouldn't work as a movie. Languishing in development hell for a decade, the film has been the personal mission of Ryan Reynolds since he fell in love with the character when, in one issue, he was referenced as a potential lookalike (“Ryan Reynolds crossed with a shar pei,” was the actual phrase used). Reynolds could have been forgiven for dropping the project when he signed up to play the character in the disappointing X-Men Origins: Wolverine, a film that completely missed the point of Deadpool almost killed any potential the character had for screen success. Yet, seven years and a well-judged test footage leak later, here it is: a faithful, hilarious and already hugely successful Deadpool movie.
It's only February, and Deadpool is probably already the film of the year. Utterly vulgar and excessively bloody, bursting with truly hilarious moments alongside exploding guts, gratuitous nudity and, somehow, a genuinely sweet love story, the movie captures the spirit of the comics at their best. It's not going to be everyone's cup of tea, and it's most definitely not suitable for the tween-to-teen target audience of The Avengers and its ilk, and it's a breath of fresh air in a climate of endless and increasingly interchangeable comicbook movies. Reynolds is absolutely spot-on in the part he was born to play, silencing anyone who thinks he can't be funny. The knowing postmodernist style of the comics is present and upfront, with the story told, alinearly, by Deadpool to the audience, while he isn't ripping the piss out of himself, the guy playing him, the directors, comicbook movies as a whole and anyone who crosses his path. The decision to animate Deadpool's mask – allowing his emotions to show through, just like in the comics – is inspired. They should really do the same thing with Spider-Man when he comes back.
Deadpool's lover, Vanessa, is the second-most likeable prostitute Morena Baccarin has played, and the two leads have excellent chemistry, through each foul-mouthed yet tender moment to the next. (Although, frankly, I think their relationship develops a little on the slow side. Also, their banter almost descends into the “Four Yorkshiremen” sketch at one point.) Equally spot-on is T.J. Miller as 'Pool's best mate Weasel, as is the wonderful Leslie Uggams as Blind Al, Deadpool's elderly, coke-nosed roommate. Ed Skrein is great too; a protagonist as violent as Deadpool needs a truly loathsome villain, and Skrein's sadistic turn as Ajax, ably supported by Gina Carano as Angel Dust, is more than up to the task.
The characters I'm desperate to see again, though, are the X-Men: Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead, played by Stefan Kapicic and Brianna Hildebrand, respectively. Finally, they've got Colossus right; gigantic, unstoppable, Russian through-and-through and a complete boy scout. NTW, on the other hand, is sure to be an instant favourite with everyone, a sullen goth with no time for any of this shit who wipes the floor with anyone stupid enough to underestimate her powers. If we ever get that X-Force movie, Deadpool, Colossus and NTW are all surely going to be on the team (along with Cable, naturally). It does raise questions, though. Is Deadpool part of the X-Men movie franchise? Well, clearly, yes, although it exists in its own, tangential reality to the canon. Obviously it doesn't fit with Origins: Wolverine, but that seems to have been pretty much dropped from continuity anyway. In any case, it's rather pointless worrying about continuity in a film where the main character not only references the rest of the franchise's actors and complains about the timeline being too confusing, but actually makes a fourth-wall joke whilst breaking said wall.
The action is, of course, spectacular, with brilliantly choreographed fight scenes that are both funny and brutal. It's all the more impressive when you consider that the already tight budget was being slashed even as they were filming, necessitating last-minute rewrites. Really, though, Deadpool's all about the humour, uncompromisingly, violently hilarious all the way. Deadpool winks and wanks his way through the movie, winning more fans than ever, and the sequel is already in the works. However, let's not forget the real hero of this film: Dopinder, the taxi driver. Make sure Karan Soni is in the sequel as Deadpool's exclusive driver.