After The Fantasic Four last year, I was about done with superheroes. There was something so infuriating about its staunch seriousness in the face of what was clearly one of the silliest looking movies ever made. There's nothing heroic about Miles Teller as a mutant man, arms stretched out like a warm nerd's rope as he slaps people in the face several metres away.
It increasingly feels like the superhero genre has adopted the po-faced earnestness of a first-year philosophy student, so hell-bent on trying to save the world that they won't take a minute to laugh at their funny bow tie and/or cape. Thankfully, not a moment too late, Deadpool has swooped in to embrace the silliness, gut-punch the grimness and skewer convention like a giant kebab.
Ryan Reynolds - who had never quite hit the comedic mark for me since the atrociously good Van Wilder: Party Liaison - takes the lead role as the snarky cynic Deadpool. Based on a ground-breaking, self-aware character of the 90s Marvel stable, Deadpool is the raunchy, selfish and wry anti-hero we need right now.
It also helps that he looks a little like a mashed yam and not Chris Evans in Captain America, a man so perfectly sculpted he would have made Michelangelo weep.
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After being diagnosed with terminal cancer and turning to a dodgy healing treatment, Deadpool takes the audience with him on a quest to avenge the man who messed up his face during the procedure. Yes, it's a vanity project in the truest sense of the word. Along the way, he addresses the camera directly, even experimenting with Inception-style fourth wall breaks within fourth wall breaks.
These types of nerdy in-jokes are exactly what make Deadpool soar over the likes of Hawkeye and Superman. I lost track of the cultural references after about the first 10 minutes, but let's just say there's something for everyone from Wham! to Star Wars.
It's not just a film in love with the superhero genre, but in love with pop culture as a whole. Even the lead casting is an ironic nod, when you consider that Reynolds almost tanked his career a few years ago with the massive DC flop The Green Lantern.
The film-makers even use Deadpool as a platform to air their up-to-the-minute-concerns about gender politics in the genre. In one instance, Deadpool pauses to muse on whether or not it is sexist to shoot a woman, or if it's more sexist to let her go free. The love interest, Vanessa, strays from convention by being a sex worker, doted on by Deadpool as she asserts her brazen sexuality in a way that is rare from a cape and undies caper. And without giving too much away, the highlight gag of the movie is an amazingly risky joke about International Women's Day.
I should mention Deadpool is gloriously violent which, combined with the sex scenes, earned it an R16 rating. Possibly only surpassed in the bloodshed stakes by Tarantino's The Hateful Eight, Deadpool goes to great lengths to show you, in painful slow motion, the outcomes of superhero violence in reality. Skull caps fly, holes are torn through limbs and men are made into human kebabs. It's messy, sensational gore that could graduate with a PhD from the Peter Jackson academy of good splatter.
Where the upcoming Captain America: Civil War and the extraordinarily stony-faced Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice appears to be trying to carry the weight of the world on their (extremely ripped) shoulders, Deadpool takes no responsibility for solving the world's problems.
After laughing, grimacing and screeching my way through the film, I can safely say it's the most thrilling thing that has happened to the superhero genre since George Clooney's Batsuit nipples.