‘Deadpool’ is a fun superhero movie

Wade Wilson (aka Deadpool, played by Ryan Reynolds) appeared in 2009’s awful “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” but you’d be forgiven for not remembering the character.

That movie was a lifeless, factory-produced product, a business decision rather than a creative one. The new “Deadpool,” which elevates the character to leading man status, is the opposite. It’s playful, irreverent and loads of fun.

“Deadpool” opens with hilarious credits. Rather than actual names, we get types, like “a British villain” and “a CGI character.”

These roll over a brilliant 3D freeze-frame action moment, a car crash in progress. As the camera swoops in and around it, the mystery (“what the heck is going on?”) culminates in a big laugh and a big cheer.

Deadpool is a wisecracking lone wolf who would rather kill bad guys than bother with arresting them. Technically a mutant, he has awesome healing powers and amazing fighting abilities, but his skin is a twisted, scarred fright.

He can’t show his face in public, and he feels he must hide from his loving girlfriend, Vanessa (Morena Baccarin, from TV’s “Firefly”).

The plot has Deadpool seeking vengeance upon the man (Ed Skrein) who made him this way; there’s a recurring joke about the villain’s name, better left unsaid.

Two X-Men try to help: the steel-skinned Russian, Colossus (Stefan Kapicic), and his teen apprentice (Brianna Hildebrand), whose name is also better left unsaid.

Deadpool’s costume (red, to hide blood stains) covers his face and eyes, but Reynolds springs him to life with energetic quips and jokes and cartoon-like movements.

As in the comics, the character breaks the fourth wall. Speaking to the audience, he tells his origin story in pieces sprinkled throughout the movie. It’s a refreshing way to fill in the blanks without large chunks of dull exposition. The filmmakers, aware of all the cliches, try to subvert them.

Director Tim Miller — who received an Oscar nomination for the animated short “Gopher Broke” (2004) — nicely turns in one of the shorter recent superhero movies (108 minutes) that has an “R” rating.

“Deadpool” is streamlined and fast-paced, although the action scenes are a little jumpy; the excellent choreography could have been more smoothly shot. And, to be frank, the high-energy dialogue feelstiresome in the final stretch; the pace is sometimes exhausting.

But, as with “Ant-Man,” “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Iron Man,” “Deadpool” seems less interested in creating a consuming cinematic legacy or saga than it is in vivid characters and cheerful fun.

Three stars
Starring Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, T.J. Miller
Written by Rob Liefeld, Fabian Nicieza, Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick
Directed by Tim Miller
Rated R
Running time 1 hour, 48 minutes

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