Leaping into the shallow end

'Deadpool' pokes fun at itself: another Marvel movie

The new Marvel superhero (sorta) movie is obnoxious, snarky, gruntingly sexual and violent. And it knows it. It's everything the American Family Association and the Parents Television Council rail against. It's also a helluva lot of fun, at least for the Comic-Con set.

In giving the fans what they want, "Dead pool" is pretty much on point, especially in light of the misbegotten "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," which gave the fast-healing mutant mercenary Deadpool his big-screen debut.

Oddly enough, Ryan Reynolds played Deadpool both in that 2009 film and in the coming-out-party retake hitting theaters now. Conventional wisdom said that Reynolds -- who plays the part like a stand-up comic with a compulsion to be funny to blunt his pain -- was the right guy for the role, just in the wrong movie. Rumors percolated persistently until 20th Century Fox confirmed the project five years later, basically by popular demand stoked by Reynolds himself and visual effects artist Tim Miller, who was developing the material.

At last, the film from director Miller, star Reynolds and screenwriters Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese arrives, determined to waste no more time. The opening credits sequence stages action with next-level special effects reminiscent of "The Matrix" and, in place of actors' names, cheeky acknowledgments of blockbuster superhero-movie formula ("A Hot Chick ... The British Villain ... "). Shortly, the wisecracking "Merc with a Mouth," a.k.a. Wade Wilson, assures the audience, "I may be super, but I'm noooo hero," promising more fourth-wall-breaking acknowledgments of the audience: he's Bugs Bunny with a face full of scars, an automatic pistol, and a pair of katanas.

He's also psychopathic, thanks largely to the aforementioned British Villain (Ed Skrein's mutant Ajax) and Wade's loss of the "Hot Chick," girlfriend Vanessa Carlysle (Morena Baccarin of "Homeland"). Casual superhero fans may be surprised by the dynamic that emerges as Deadpool goes after his target: a couple of heroes show up to try to wrangle the antihero, and they're X-Men: steel-bound Colossus (voice of Stefan Kapicic) and the sullen, aptly named Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand). In fact, the flick stocks up on fun supporting characters, including T.J. Miller as Wade's witty bartender buddy and Leslie Uggams as Wade's elderly blind roommate.

Any movie that's sassy from here to eternity like this one isn't going to please every crowd (think "Kick-Ass"). Deadpool's irreverent attitude amounts to an elaborate pose distracting from another comic-book-vigilante origin story. "Deadpool" may not be wildly fresh, but it does wriggle against its genre straitjacket, and if it doesn't quite escape, it puts on a great show in the process.

Rated R for language, some violent images, drug use and brief graphic nudity. One hour, 48 minutes.

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