As much as I am a fan of superhero films (and their comic book source material), I was one of the seemingly few outliers when it came to the original Deadpool film two years ago. To me, it felt like an imitation of funny, and most of the jokes didn’t work for me. And that film’s structure saved it from being a by-the-numbers superhero film. So there was zero hype for my experience watching the sequel. And while I don’t think it will convert most people who did not like the first film, Deadpool 2 is a superior film in almost every measure.
While the exposition remains heavy-handed (a fourth wall breaking voiceover telling you it is a family film and then it becoming a film about a surrogate family is lampshading, but the issue is still there), and the jokes continue to be a spray of random bullets versus precise tactical hits. Opening up the film to a larger supporting cast really helps.
The standout is the happy-go-lucky Domino (Zazie Beetz), whose mutant power is luck. Beetz injects an effervescence into the character that is really infectious, and steals every single scene she is in, because she stands as such a contrast to the self-deprecating Deadpool and the grim Cable (Josh Brolin). I’d watch a Domino movie in a heartbeat. Sadly, Cable and Deadpool spend most of the film apart, and it is only deep into the third act of the film that we get the team up we deserve. While Brolin never reaches the highs of his ultra-square cop paired with ultra-stoner of Inherent Vice, Brolin’s gravely flatness does pair well with Reynold’s antics.
Deadpool 2 unfolds in three parts, and it truly feels like three issues of a comic collected together in the sense that each section has a distinct feel, and acts as its own story that still continues the previous one. The first act introduces a new status quo, the second act creates a new problem, and the third resolves it. It is smaller and less operatic than especially the other films in the X-Men franchise, which is a feature. It makes the film feel a bit more episodic, but it also allows each piece to get its due and have some breathing room.
With David Leitch taking over as director, my biggest hopes for this film was that it would deliver some great action scenes, especially after the first John Wick, but also last year’s stunning Atomic Blonde. There’s a handful of great choreography, but it is concentrated in the first section of the film, and by the end we’re in generic pre-visualization territory.
So Deadpool 2 is a big improvement, and likely will not disappoint fans of the original. But there’s a few more things worth talking about, and they are deep into spoiler territory.. So be warned.
It’s amazing that this film comes so soon after Avengers: Infinity War. Not only because Reynolds gets to call Cable “Thanos,” but because the post credits scenes involve Deadpool using time travel to undo many of the major character deaths in the film. I was legitimately stunned and disappointed when Vanessa (Monica Baccarin) was killed off before the opening credits, mostly because the last thing the genre needs is to have the death of a woman inspire a man to be better. I don’t think that undoing it at the end of the film removes that choice entirely, especially because there’s so many other ways to make Deadpool care about Russell (Julian Dennison). And the amount of times characters refer to her death as permanent throughout the film was a big clue it was going to be undone.
As a comics fan, I also appreciated many of the really deep comic book references scattered throughout. Every advertisement or background text seemed to refer to things like Alpha Flight or even more obscure things, like the ice cream truck that is a reference to the clone of the deceased Jean Grey that Cyclops married in 1983. If only more of the film was as subtle as its Stan Lee cameo.
Deadpool 2 opens in Philly theaters today.