Director: David Leitch
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Morena Baccarin, T.J. Miller, Julian Dennison, Karan Soni, Stefan Kapičić, Brianna Hildebrand, Zazie Beetz
With Marvel Studios’ recent incredible success with Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War, it could probably be guaranteed that someone is feeling a little left out of the universe. But here he is, back again, doing his thing that couldn’t be further from the things going on in the official Disney-owned MCU (more on that a little later). Ryan Reynolds’ infamous Merc with a Mouth was a risk for 21st Century Fox when he first appeared, but it was a risk that paid off. 2016’s Deadpool had incredible success in its own right, mostly thanks to the witty, rude, hilarious writing and the perfectly cast Reynolds, finally finding his true spot in the world of super heroes (the first rule of Green Lantern is you do not talk about Green Lantern). As popular and refreshing as Deadpool was, how does Deadpool 2 stand up against its own past success?
Picking up two years after the events of the first film, Deadpool/Wade Wilson (Reynolds) is officially working as a merc for hire, fighting and killing for what he believes to be right. Away from the shooting and decapitating he lives a relatively grounded life with girlfriend Vanessa (Baccarin). But, of course, things happen that set Wade onto a path he didn’t think he’d have to go down. As he proceeds down the proverbial path, he meets a mutant teenager named Russell (Dennison) who’s having a few issues of his own. When baddie-from-the-future Cable (Brolin) enters the fray on a mission to kill Russell, Wade comes to realise that Russell could be the answer to his problems. Along the way, Wade constructs a team of his own, a team that comes to be known as X-Force, and together they shoot and blast and slice their way through many an action sequence and broken fourth wall, as is standard of a Deadpool movie.
Once again the humour is as bottom-of-the-toilet as it comes and has a certain level of wit that all in all is still cause for a good laugh, however it doesn’t feel quite on par with Deadpool, which is disappointing. The first movie’s humour flowed with the story and it felt very natural and unforced. In Deadpool 2 the jokes and pop culture references come across as though they were written first and then a rather incoherent story was plotted around them. The writers knew they wanted Cable to be the big bad (as was foretold in the end-credits scene of Deadpool), so that plot point was set, however the interlinking story between Cable, Deadpool and Russell, plus the inclusion of Domino (Beetz) and reappearances of Colossus (Kapičić) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Hildebrand), isn’t as cohesive as the characters’ story arc with the first movie’s villain, Ajax (Ed Skrein). It’s reported that Deadpool’s director Tim Miller left Deadpool 2 due to creative differences with Reynolds, those differences being Miller wanted a more stylised movie whereas Reynolds wanted to stick with the original proven formula that made the first movie so successful. Reynolds’ way was probably the right way to go, as everyone knows and loves Deadpool for his crass and often over-the-top comedy, however the story/joke seesaw probably went a little off-balance and too much towards the importance of impressing the same audiences that enjoyed Deadpool. Of course that is an important aspect, but in order for a franchise (which this will likely be, with the inclusion and foreshadowing of X-Force) to really succeed it needs to evolve, and having a straight and easy-to-follow story would benefit the next movie and make the humour that much more enjoyable again.
Performance-wise, Reynolds is his usual quick-witted, self-deprecating yet endearing self, portraying Deadpool in a way that not many others could, if anyone at all. If what you want is more of the same Deadpool as was present in the first movie, you will not be disappointed. Julian Dennison, whose most famous role pre-Deadpool 2 was as young tearaway Ricky in 2016’s Hunt for the Wilderpeople (directed by Taika Waititi, who also directed Thor: Ragnarok, with minor performances from Rachel House and Sam Neill, both of whom also appeared in Hunt for the Wilderpeople – because Marvel seems to get everyone eventually), puts in another likable performance as Russell/Fire Fist, however his dry humour is at times dryer than the Sahara and could use a little water from the oasis of comedy that Reynolds drinks from. It’s something that, with time and experience, Dennison could hone very well and excel in. He’s proven that he has a natural talent, it just needs some nurturing. The big stand out performance has to go to Josh Brolin as Cable. It can’t be easy to stand up to the kind of humour and jokes at his expense that Reynolds as Deadpool throws at him, but he holds his own so well and keeps what story there is, including the emotional and motivational aspects, grounded amidst the comedy that comes at you at 200mph. Other performances are pretty standard in their support, the recurring cast not altering their performances much, if at all, from the first movies (without giving anything away, keep your eyes peeled for a split-second cameo from a very famous actor). One performance that often drags scenes down, however, is that of T.J. Miller as Weasel, Deadpool’s sort of manager, sort of friend. T.J. Miller’s comedy doesn’t come across in the same way Reynolds’ does – there seems to be a disconnect somewhere that makes it unlikable. It has however been announced by Reynolds that, due to some recent controversies surrounding Miller, including past sexual misconduct and wasting police time, he will not be returning in the next movie. He will not be missed.
If what you enjoyed most about Deadpool was the comedy and the action sequences, overall you will not be disappointed. The humour in Deadpool 2 is probably a little more of an acquired taste than that of the first, and if you happen to be a genetic recipient of that taste, you will likely not be too bothered about any of the movie’s pitfalls. On the surface it is entertaining, but if you want more in the way of story and character evolution from Deadpool 2 than Deadpool gave you, then I suggest you stick with the MCU. At least for now. When Disney announced their proposed acquisition of 21st Century Fox (which is currently in process and expected to be complete by summer next year), it was also announced that, if all goes through, Disney will incorporate Deadpool into the MCU, potty-mouth and all. And despite Hugh Jackman’s self-professed retirement from playing Wolverine, it wouldn’t come as a surprise if Reynolds could tempt Jackman out of retirement for one last outing, even just a cameo. An official meeting between Wolverine/Logan and Deadpool/Wade would send a legion of fans into absolute meltdown (Reynolds’ and Jackman’s social media back-and-forths are a great source of entertainment). Hopefully the next film will involve a better storyline, particularly if Deadpool is a part of the MCU by then. Just imagine how far they could go with the story, the comedy and the cameos. Deadpool is on his way, and he’s bringing a team.
POST CREDIT SCENES (SPOILER-FREE):
There are five mid-credits scenes all together, and they are arguably funnier than anything else in the main movie. Don’t bother to stay after those though, as there is no end-credits scene, unless you want to hear a reprisal of a certain song heard during the movie. You’ll know it when you hear it (and it’s not the Céline Dion masterpiece).