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Deadpool: The Anti-Superhero Movie

Caution: This review contains major spoilers for Deadpool

Deadpool is at its best when it’s making fun of superhero movies. The film feels like a deliberate counter-reaction to the seriousness and prominence of comic book films in pop culture, and in that regard, it’s a wild success. When it fills the opening credits with descriptions of its actors rather than their actual names (e.g. “Moody Teen”, “British Villain”, etc.), features knowing winks to its star’s prior, emerald-tinged efforts as a cape, and plays “Angel of the Morning” behind its freeze-framed mayhem, it’s a statement of purpose, an indication from the very beginning that this is not going to be your average superhero flick and the movie is very much in on the joke.

At the same time, Deadpool is at its weakest when it capitulates to the sober, formulaic demands of its genre, when it hits the expected beats of your typical good guy origin story—a tragic past, a dull antagonist, and a lost love–even as it vociferously proclaims that its “hero” is anything but a good guy. The film does its best to throw in a comedic riff on these moments. Deadpool himself, a.k.a. Wade Wilson, has plenty of playful quips for the movie’s villain, Ajax (Ed Skrein), even as his rival slogs through the usual, perfunctory threat and intimidation routine. And Wilson’s ribald remarks permeate the sad-sack backstory and star-crossed romance that might otherwise hurt the film’s humorous tone.

To this end, the film makes a firm attempt to take some of the edge off of some of its more standard-issue elements—generic baddie Ajax and his wooden henchwoman Angel Dust (Gina Carano) chief among them. But at its core, Deadpool can’t completely run away from the typical superhero movie tropes it ends up employing, even as it’s trying to make fun of them. That drags down the proceedings in the moments where the otherwise off-the-wall film tries to be a little more solemn or conventional.


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