The Fox/Marvel cinematic universe has been plagued with an aura of uncertainty as of late. X-Men, Fox’s biggest franchise, is shifting from the team of the early 2000’s to a younger, livelier team for a new generation. The shaky transition becomes complete this summer with X-Men: Apocalypse. Fox’s Marvel license gives them a healthy amount of characters to choose from, including the X-Men, Fantastic Four, and the subject of this review, Deadpool. The former two teams are geared to a mass audience of movie viewers of all ages. The latter character has been a fan favorite for quite sometime, but nowhere near the mass audience appeal. With Fox having no success with the Fantastic Four (especially after their latest effort) and the X-Men popularity waning, Fox has finally taken a chance on a character they have had the rights to for quite sometime, Deadpool. Can Deadpool’s foul mouthed, ultra violent, fourth wall breaking, comic book excess translate to a good movie that can help Fox take some box office from the juggernaut that is Disney’s Marvel cinematic universe?

The character of Deadpool has been around since 1991. Created by Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza, Deadpool was created as a super villain, but transformed into the ultimate anti-hero. Penned as the “Merc with a Mouth” for his unfiltered “say anything” attitude catapulted him to massive popularity among comic book fans. Those that read his adventures, knew one day that Deadpool would make a great cinematic character. Fox answered that call and his first cinematic appearance was in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Played by Ryan Reynolds, (a fan’s dream actor to play the role), his first appearance, like the film, was less than successful. He was referred to as his given name, Wade Wilson, he wasn’t given a mask, then unceremoniously had his best weapon taken away, his ability to mouth-off. Although Deadpool’s first movie appearance was sub par at best, Ryan Reynolds was born to play the role of Deadpool and was determined to help green light a movie that would do the character justice.

Seven years after the X-Men Origins debacle, Ryan Reynolds dream project, of a Deadpool solo movie has finally come to life. This is Marvel’s first R-rated comic book film since Blade. In a world where PG-13 comic book films rule the day, Deadpool is taking a big chance with its content. Fortunately, for Fox, the gamble has paid off big. Deadpool absolutely has nailed the spirit of the ultra violent and raunchy comic and given us an anti-hero to root for. Ryan Reynolds reprises his role as Wade Wilson, a former military man turned mercenary, who has finally met his soulmate, Vanessa, played by the beautiful Morena Baccarin. She matches Wade’s vulgar and smart ass attitude and stands her ground as a counterpart to Wade and is every bit his equal. During their whirlwind romance, Wade is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Wade goes down every avenue to find a way to deal with his diagnosis. He’s approached by a mysterious man offering him a chance at not only a cure for his disease, but an opportunity to awaken the power that lies within him. Having no other choice, Wade takes the man up on his offer to secure a future for him and Vanessa. These events do not go as planned and the birth of Deadpool takes place.

Compliments go to the filmmakers for having us care about our two leads. Wanting them to be together is the glue that holds this movie up. Deadpool’s writers and director have done a bang up job giving us a tight 1 hour and 45 minute movie that conveys the spirit of its characters and its story and is over before the audience can start poking holes in its plot. The film is stuffed with in-jokes, vulgar comedy, outrageous violence, and Deadpool speaking directly to the movie audience pulling us even further into Deadpool’s twisted mind.

Ryan Reynolds performance is not the only thing that hold this film together. Briana Hildebrand as Negasonic Teenage Warhead is “emo” perfect and just aloof and “angsty” enough as not to be annoying and is quite charming . The CGI character of Colossus, voiced by Stefan Kapicic, delivers an absolute standout performance and is easily Deadpool’s Jiminy Cricket, dispensing platitudes about how Deadpool can be a better hero and can prove his worth by joining the X-Men. Colossus deserves to be in every Deadpool adventure from here on out just to be his conscience. Finally on the positive side, both Gina Carano as Angel Dust and T.J. Miller as Weasel give flavor to an already great supporting cast. There are just a couple of small gripes with the film that bring it down. The villain, Ajax, played by Ed Skrein was less than stellar. He came off more annoyed at Deadpool than a budding super villain. Ultimately, the reason the villain seems more of an afterthought is because the main story thread concerning Wade Wilson’s transformation to Deadpool and Ajax’s involvement in it does become a jumbled mess in all the blood spattered chaos not giving a motive for the villain’s action. Sadly, the Weapon X program is not even referred to in this film and for comic book fans that is pivotal to the origins of not only Deadpool, but a host of other mutants, and more famously the project that also spawned Wolverine.

Fox has successfully done a course correction for it’s future comic book properties with Deadpool. Deadpool is a comic book lovers wet dream. It’s raunchy, sexy, violent, and vulgar. Surprisingly, not in excess as to be off putting, it’s all done in the spirit of the movie’s namesake. It’s clever and most importantly a fun time at the movies. Just know it’s adult oriented fun, so parents be warned. Don’t bother with any other movie this Valentine’s weekend. Deadpool will have you and your date seeing enough red on your face and on screen and loving every dirty minded minute of it. Bravo, Deadpool, your next rousing comic book adventure can’t come soon enough.

Three Stars Out of Five

Don’t bother with any other movie this Valentine’s weekend. Deadpool will have you and your date seeing enough red on your face and on screen and loving every dirty minded minute of it. Bravo, Deadpool, your next rousing comic book adventure can’t come soon enough.

-originally published in MAUIWatch