We Need to Talk
About Deadpool 2
By Mikhail Lecaros
The Merc with a Mouth is back! Ryan Reynolds returns with his signature blend of sarcasm, pop culture references, and graphic violence that made the 2016 original one of the most refreshing superhero films in years.
A CURE FOR YOUR INFINITY WAR HANGOVER
For anyone still suffering from post-Infinity War trauma, Deadpool 2 is here from Fox’s (non-MCU) X-Men movie universe as the perfect superhero palette cleanser. Four years after his first solo film, contract killer Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds, The Proposal) is back to wreak havoc on the genre that spawned him in the first place. Indeed, much as he proved it in the character’s first solo outing, the profanity-spewing, Fourth-Wall-breaking mutant assassin is the role Reynolds was born to play.
FROM THE PAGE TO THE SCREEN
Originally presented as a riff on (rival publisher) DC Comics’ villain Deathstroke (aka Slade Wilson), Deadpool (aka Wade Wilson), the unkillable star of this franchise has transcended his antagonistic origins to become one of Marvel’s most popular characters. Famed for his irreverent humor and frequent fourth wall breaks (he is one of the few comic book characters to know he is a comic book character) Deadpool is a character whose road to the big screen was as tortuous as it was convoluted.
Following a disastrous first outing as a supporting character in 2009’s absolutely godawful X-Men Origins: Wolverine, where he (played by Reynolds) was portrayed as a mouthless, blade-armed, laser-eyed freak WITHOUT A MOUTH, Deadpool was in limbo; despite a push form Reynolds and his collaborator, (eventual Deadpool director) Tim Miller, to get their vision made,
Fox wasn’t convinced that audiences would pay to watch a tongue-in-cheek R-rated superhero movie based on a character who had already failed once.
This all changed in 2014, when test footage for a proper film treatment leaked online. Thanks to an overwhelmingly positive reaction to the footage, combined with Reynolds’ considerably increased Hollywood status, Fox reluctantly approved the production of a “proper” Deadpool movie. For anyone curious, the test footage is still online, and actually formed the basis of the eventual 2016 film’s opening action sequence.
Deadpool would go on to become the highest-grossing R-Rated film of all time, after Passion of the Christ. Holy freaking hell.
Devastated by the tragic murder of his beloved Vanessa (Morena Baccarin, of TV’s Firefly, Gotham), and cursed with super-powered immortality, Deadpool struggles to find a reason to go on living. He finds his purpose in the unlikely form of Russel (Julian Dennison), a young mutant with a chip on his shoulder against humanity. But before the Merc with a Mouth can fulfill his quest, a wrinkle appears in the form of Cable, (Infinity War’s Thanos himself, Josh Brolin), a cyborg soldier from the future who’s travelled back to eliminate Russel before he becomes a threat.
THE GANG’S ALL HERE
Pretty much everybody is here for a second go-around, including the aforementioned Vanessa, Blind Al (Leslie Uggams, of TV’s Empire), hapless cab drive Dopinder (Karan Soni, Safety Not Guaranteed), and Weasel (TJ Miller, of TV’s Silicon Valley). While it is always refreshing to see familiar faces, one wishes that some of them were given something more substantial to do than essentially rehash gags from the first one.
Fortunately, this sequel isn’t lacking in new blood…
A WHOLE NEW CREW
Deadpool 2 surrounds the unkillable assassin with a team of misfits all his own, which he creatively names, “X-Force”, in an alternate origin for the comic book X-Men’s black ops team. The team, recruited via LinkdIn, is comprised of franchise newcomers Terry Crews (The Expendables TV’s Brooklyn Nine Nine) as Bedlam, Bill Skarsgård (of last year’s It remake) as Zeitgeist, Lewis Tan (Netflix’s Iron Fist) as Shatterstar, Rob Delaney (TV’s Catastrophe) as the hapless Peter, an unpowered applicant who just thought the job looked fun.
By far, the film’s breakout star is the preternaturally lucky Domino, played by Atlanta’s Zazie Beetz, who finds just the right tone to take in balancing her character’s fantastical abilities with a sense of bemused detachment that balances out the rest of the cast’s screwball tendencies.
Fans of the first Deadpool might remember how he accidentally left all his guns in Dopinder’s taxi, right before the big finale. While that bit of hilarity was dictated more by real-life financial concerns than an actual story beat, Deadpool 2 boasts a budget nearly twice that of its predecessor, which the filmmakers were all too happy to put onscreen in the form of wanton carnage and shenanigans. While this means that the scope of Deadpool’s world has definitely increased, the inherent silliness of the proceedings will keep you from taking anything too seriously. Take, for example, the first time we see Domino’s superpower in action – it’s big and ridiculous, but rendered in such a deliberately cartoonish way that you just accept it and smile at the audacity of it all.
CAMEOS, REFERENCES, AND IN-JOKES
It’s hard to know where to start for this one, since the entire thing is, in itself, an in-joke, but the sheer amount of self-referential one-liners here put the first film to shame. Here, the Merc with a Mouth takes shots at everything from James Brolin’s other big summer flick, to Reynolds’ propensity to star in terrible comic book movies. The Avengers? Burned. The lead actor? Skewered. The overall experience? Priceless. This film knows what it wants to do, and exactly how to do it. As the title character, Reynolds has lost none of his aptitude for dishing out mile-a-minute insults and pop culture references, the meta-humor that makes Deadpool a fan favorite in full evidence. Much like the first film, not all of the gags land, but the ones that do are solid, particularly one involving the non-participation of any famous X-Men.
This is Reynolds’ film, through and through, leaving it truly difficult to tell if he’s actually acting, or if he’s just being himself. At any rate, this remains the single most perfect match of superhero and actor since Jon Favreau (Zathura) took a chance on Robert Downey, Jr. back in 2008.All of this just drives home the point of how terrible it was for Fox to seal this character’s mouth in the truly terrible X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Simply put, Reynolds IS Deadpool, as seen by the lengths the man goes to personally promote the film, and this role should be his for as long as he wants it. Seriously, who else would go on a Korean singing show disguised as a unicorn to sing “Tomorrow” from Annie?!
By now, you’ll know whether or not you want to see this one, but just in case you’re in the latter category, believe me when I say you are absolutely missing out on what may be the mid-credits scene EVER. For a good time at the movies, and a decent break from the absurdities of real life, Deadpool 2 is the one to see.
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