The trailers preceding this film were for Batman vs Superman, the new X-Men, Suicide Squad and the new Avengers. To many this is a smorgasbord of cinematic treats. For me this represents another summer of cinematic austerity. I’ve tried with superhero movies, I really have. X-men Days of Future Past is the best one yet I was told. Avengers Age of Ultron is a must see, folks on Twitter told me. Thor isn’t quite as bad as people say, others implored. Yet they all leave me cold. Two elements combine for this apathy towards all things Marvel and DC: they have no sense of their own ridiculousness – they take themselves seriously, and expect us to do the same; there is no tension is watching two undefeatable CGI creatures slug it out for 10 minutes denting as many metal structures as they can.
Deadpool is therefore a superhero movie for me. The opening sequence superbly sets the tone, mocking every element of the comic book formula. It is followed by ultra-violence, the sort we used to refer to as comic book before comic books were actually put on screen. Our superhero swears, urinates, fornicates, masturbates and generally undermines every aspect of the po-faced Marvey universe. It’s spit your fizzy drink funny, and has more in-gags than Spiderman has remakes. In the torture scenes to create the superhero there are also dark shades of Martyrs.
It doesn’t quite overcome my second reservation, there is still the climactic slugfest. It tries to have it both ways here: knowing winks about the cliche and yet, like comedy-horror, we have to be engaged in the primary format sufficiently. It just about gets away with this. There is considerable bravery in Marvel mocking their own cash-cow and in the adult, ribald humour for what is often a young adult audience. Pulling this off is to be applauded. I’m not sure it’d last to a Deadpool 2 though.