“Time to get back on LinkedIn.”
Back in 2016, Deadpool was the surprise of the year. It was an R-rated superhero film that managed to be laugh-out-loud funny, but also a great action movie, with some surprisingly emotional moments too. Most importantly, it made Deadpool likeable. Yes, Deadpool, that staple of comic conventions, has always been hit or miss in the comics. Moving from funny to kind of annoying. But it turns out that all you needed was Ryan Reynolds’ Canadian charm, and baby, you’ve got movie magic.
So how can the sequel top that? Will it play it safe? Or do that classic sequel thing of making everything bigger and louder? In truth, Deadpool 2 avoids those sequel pitfalls and shows that lighting really can strike the same place twice.
So the movie starts out in an unexpected way – by killing off Vanessa (Morena Baccarin). This caught me off guard, mainly because I usually spoil these types of things for myself. Also I assumed she was safe, especially after the surprisingly well-crafted romance element in the first film. But Deadpool 2 earns this shocking moment and it sets the plot in motion. Devasted by the death of his soulmate, Wade decides to do right by her by helping a child in need. In this case it’s Russell, played by the fabulous Julian Dennison (who you might recognise as Ricky Baker from the equally fantastic Hunt for the Wilderpeople).
The plot of the movie gives Deadpool 2 a strange feel. On one hand you get raunchy jokes, violent action set pieces, and hilarious cameos and references – but on the other hand, beneath the stuff you’d expect, there’s a serious story about selflessness and overcoming loss. I didn’t expect it from this film, but there are moments of honest-to-god emotion and maturity. Especially the scenes with Wade and Vanessa in ‘heaven’ (all set to an out-of-this-world acoustic cover of ‘Take On Me’). The stakes of the film stay reasonably low, with the finale being much more intimate than standard superhero fare.
Of course, however, there are lots and lots of jokes. Overall I think this film has a higher laugh-a-minute count than it’s predecessor, probably because they now know what they can get away with. There are pop culture references, obscure comic book nerd jokes (Rob Liefeld really can’t draw feet), references to the DCEU, the MCU, and some good old one-liners. There’s even a joke about the Guy Pearce western The Proposition – so this clearly was a movie made for me. That being said, this sequel will not win over any Deadpool detractors. You found the first one annoying? Well, it’s turned up to eleven here. But if you enjoyed the first, I’d be very surprised if you didn’t like this one.
This sequel introduces to a few new characters that comic fans will be glad to see. The main one is Cable, played by Josh Brolin. I thought it would be weird seeing Brolin as Thanos in Infinity War and then as Cable here. But until Deadpool made a joke about it, I barely even considered it – the two characters are so different. They’re both sympathetic villains, but for wildly different reasons. Cable is trying to avenge his family, who were killed by Russell in the future. We don’t learn quite enough about Cable as I would have liked, especially not about his future, but it looks like they’re saving some story up for the sequel, as the ending suggests Cable is sticking around for a bit longer.
The other new characters are X-Force, made up of Shatterstar, Zeitgeist, Vanisher, Bedlam, Domino, and Peter. The trailers were very clever in this aspect. Based on those alone, I for one thought they were going to be a big part of the film – which worried me. Too many new characters can weigh a movie down. But refreshingly they were not used to build a new franchise, they are perhaps the film’s best joke; an extended gag where they all die horribly gruesome (but hilarious) deaths after parachuting in high winds. The one character who survives is Domino (Zazie Beetz), who is one of the very best parts of this film. Her power is luck, which turns out to be very cool to watch.
A surprise appearance for me was Juggernaut. After appearing in X-Men: The Last Stand and being somewhat underwhelming, he makes a dramatic reappearance in all his CGI glory. Gone is the weird outfit and strange Vinnie Jones performance. Now he looks just like his comicbook counterpart. The fight between him and Colossus is great and the CGI holds up – Marvel once again making a mockery out of the computer generated effects of Justice League.
A lot of what works in Deadpool 2 comes down to its leading man. Now with a writing credit, Ryan Reynolds is Deadpool. He’s a very funny guy who’s had a bad run in the past of crappy starring vehicles. But he seems at home here in Deadpool’s red leather, so much so that he probably dreams as the merc with a mouth. Plus, it seems like Deadpool is the perfect vehicle for him to rewrite the wrongs of his Hollywood past – see the mid-credits scenes where he rewrites the events of X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Green Lantern.
So Deadpool 2 has succeeded where so many other sequels have failed, by actually being better than the first. The jokes are great and there are plenty of them, and John Wick and Atomic Blonde director David Leitch directs the action with the style people have come to expect. But all that would fall apart if it wasn’t for the story which, though scattershot at times, is effective and knows when to stop joking around and have a serious moment.
Reviewed by Jack