Some kind of hero

The ever-expanding, already saturated Marvel universe takes a wacky turn with Deadpool, a flippant addition to Marvel’s movie canon that would be the perfect summer movie – except it’s out now.

Ryan Reynolds (also a producer), who made a brief appearance as Deadpool in Wolverine (2009) before going green as DC Comics’ The Green Lantern (2011), plays the wisecracking former Special Forces operative-turned-soldier of fortune Wade Wilson, and this is his origin story – told in a cheerfully irreverent fashion that earns its R rating early and often.

Having been diagnosed with terminal cancer, Wade submits to an experiment overseen by transparently nefarious “Ajax” (Ed Skrein), whom he infuriates by calling him by his given name (“Francis”), and his sadistic sidekick “Angel Dust” (Gina Carano). Wade gets dosed, gets mutated, gets angry, gets loose – and then gets armed and dangerous.

Adopting the Deadpool name and donning the red regalia, he spends the rest of the film – which jumps back and forth in chronology – in hot pursuit of Ajax. Indestructible or not, he wants those Ryan Reynolds looks back. (Who wouldn’t?) There’s very little depth or nuance to Deadpool, which turns out to be one of its more potent assets. The film, scripted by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (albeit with well-publicized improvisation), revels in its own cheekiness, starting with the opening-credit sequence, which features Juice Newton’s rendition of “Angel of the Morning” and funny digs at itself, its makers, and the comic-book genre in general.

The game Reynolds himself revels in incessant insults, putdowns and punchlines, delivered with self-satisfied zeal, even when slaughtering his opponents. Sometimes he addresses the audience directly, and throws in a couple of Ryan Reynolds jokes to boot.

Morena Boccarin, TJ Miller, Leslie Uggams and newcomer Brianna Hildebrand (a starlet is born), as the poker-faced X-Men youngster Negasonic Teenage Warhead, round out an enthusiastic cast that’s very much in on the joke.

This being a Marvel movie, there’s the obligatory Stan Lee cameo, this time as a strip-club emcee (adding to the R rating), and the usual end-credit gag. When the credits roll, best to stick around for a few minutes.