Marvel Comics' Deadpool, as a cultural phenomenon, fascinates me. He is a character who, up until now, has only really received any attention in comics, yet he is also one of the most heavily marketed comic book characters in existence. The style of highly crass comedy and regular fourth-wall breaking that he utilizes creates an appeal that would have been impossible in any generation before the 90s, and, thanks to the internet, that appeal has spread to an alarming degree.
Indeed, if you asked me just five years ago if a Deadpool film would work, I would definitely say no. Despite what the Marvel Cinematic Universe was starting to do at that time, superhero movies simply did not stray too far from a child audience. Even films with an ostensibly older target audience were forced to be PG-13, whether in the successful case of Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy, or in the legendary failure of the censored gore-fest of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, a film that, despite its myriad flaws, most often gets mentioned as "that one movie that ruined Deadpool." If a Deadpool film had been made five years ago, it would be a kids' movie, and the fans would start a riot.
So here we are--the homogeny of the genre is finally starting to crumble away, and the raunchy, ultraviolent narrative of Deadpool is finally on the big screen, in the only way it could possibly work: love it or hate it. If you like Deadpool, you will like this movie. It doesn't make any attempts to pander to a wider demographic, the best possible decision for adapting a popular niche brand. The first half of the film is told in a nonlinear sequence of action scenes and flashbacks that comes together like a fever dream, bizarrely paced and brutally entertaining. The in-jokes and references to the comics are subtle enough that it doesn't ever brag about its existence, but not to the point where it tries to ignore its origins. It features an extended metaphor about Voltron, specifically for the sake of celebrating self-aware nostalgia that, in any other film, would have come off as a cynical cashgrab for the lucrative Gen X audience that so many films have faltered with. For all its snarky irreverence, Deadpool may be one of the most sincere blockbusters of the decade.
Granted, there is a lot the film could have improved--this is Tim Miller's directorial debut, after all. Some of the jokes did fall flat for me, but, in a film as fast-paced as this, is ultimately ignorable. However, despite the actions sequences being consistently entertaining, the dialogue is, despite being well-written, rarely imaginative in its cinematography, mostly serving as a vessel for the characters. Most of the flashbacks are actually quite dull because of this, and, as the film's pacing is built heavily around these scenes, I find it difficult to call this film the masterpiece of action-comedy fans so desperately need.
As someone who is generally a fan of nerdy properties who has seen these adaptations so often fail, it feels like a major victory to not only have a film like this be good, but also to have it as such a clear success commercially. The Marvel Cinematic Universe in general has been making B-list properties like this one mainstream for almost a decade, but, seeing something that even the MCU would find risky pay off, I feel as though, for the first time since the 70s, anything is possible in Hollywood.