Should I Watch..? 'Deadpool 2'
What's the big deal?
Deadpool 2 is an action superhero film released in 2018 and is the sequel to the 2016 film Deadpool, in case you hadn't guessed yet. Based around the Marvel character created by Fabian Nicieza and Rob Liefeld, the film sees mutant mercenary Wade Wilson create a team of fellow misfits to protect a mutant child from a murderous time-travelling cyborg. Like the first film, the movie is also a parody of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and X-Men franchises with countless references, self-awareness and a lead character constantly breaking the fourth wall with snide comments. The film stars Ryan Reynolds (once again acting as co-producer), Josh Brolin, Morena Baccarin, Julian Dennison, Zazie Beetz and Stefan Kapičić with new director David Leitch stepping in to replace Tim Miller, the director of the first film. With a critical reception broadly similar to the first film, Deadpool 2 has so far earned more than $734 million worldwide and development on a third film has already begun.
What's it about?
After two years of kicking ass and generally being awesome, heavily disfigured mercenary Wade Wilson is making the most out of his extreme regenerative abilities as the masked vigilante Deadpool. But things soon take a dramatic turn after his long-time girlfriend Vanessa is gunned down on their anniversary. Blaming himself for her death and failing to commit suicide as he'd planned, Wade finds himself being nursed back to health by Colossus at the X-Mansion who still believes that Wade can contribute to the X-Men despite his homicidal tendencies. To test the theory, Colossus brings Wade and Negasonic Teenage Warhead along to assist the safe handling of a young mutant with unstable powers known as Firefist.
When things don't go to plan after Wade attempts to handle things his way, both he and Firefist - now going under his real name Russell Collins - find themselves incarcerated in a specialist mutant prison fitted with collars that suppress their mutant abilities. Which is especially bad timing as Cable, a time-travelling cyborg with revenge on his mind, appears from the future at the prison intent on killing Russell before his powers encourage him to turn evil. Barely escaping, Wade must call in some reinforcements in order to protect Russell but this being Wade, these reinforcements might not actually be that helpful...
Wade Wilson / Deadpool / Voice of Juggernaut
Russell Collins / Firefist
Negasonic Teenage Warhead
Colossus (motion capture & voice)
Black Tom Cassidy
Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick & Ryan Reynolds*
Release Date (UK)
15th May, 2018
Action, Comedy, Superhero
What's to like?
What made the original Deadpool stand out was the huge sense of fun that came with such wicked irreverence, the film littered with in-jokes and Wade's cynical commentary smashing through the fourth wall. It made the movie feel very different from the increasingly crowded and clean-cut MCU and broadly speaking, Deadpool 2 knows its audience and goes for broke. This sequel is certainly bloodier than the first film with entrails flying all over the place and even Wade himself literally torn in half. Ramp up the language as well and this feels even less family-friendly than before. Hell, even mild-mannered taxi driver Dopinder drops a few verbal bombs.
Thankfully, the film isn't just a immature blend of sickening violence and cussing. The action feels more satisfying than before, mostly thanks to director Leitch's skill and experience at handling such scenes. Cable's futuristic toys provide a decent match for Deadpool's ruthlessness and devil-may-care attitude. Reynolds, owning the character as much as Marvel do these days, is supported well by Brolin as Cable (temporarily making you forget his crimes as Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War) and Beetz as Domino, feeling like a modern version of iconic Blaxploitation heroines like Pam Grier. It's certainly as entertaining as its predecessor but perhaps, it's not as innovative as it likes to think.
- The film features a number of A-listers in hidden or brief cameos. The Vanisher - an invisible man that joins Deadpool's X-Force - is apparently played by Brad Pitt while fellow Ocean's Eleven co-star Matt Damon appears as Redneck #2, credited as Dickie Greenleaf. In addition, many of the cast of the rebooted X-Men series (James McAvoy, Nicholas Hoult, Evan Peters, Kodi Smit-McPhee, etc) briefly appear at the X-Mansion.
- At the time of release, Dennison was just 15 years old and due to the film's R-16 rating in his native New Zealand, he was unable to watch the film at the premier.
- One of the many films referenced in this movie was The Goonies which also starred Brolin. At one point, Wade calls Cable One Eyed Willy - the film's pirate character - while he wears the same shirt worn by Chunk in the film at the apartment he shares with Blind Al. Apparently, Brolin didn't notice.
- Miller's role was significantly cut back in post-production after his arrest in the post-Weinstein investigations into sexual abuse. Reynolds has since stated that Miller will not return to the series.
What's not to like?
Many comic fans will tell you that the medium has long had an issue with female characters and their treatment, known as fridging. With the first-act dispatching of Baccarin's Vanessa (a genuine highlight of the first film), the film starts on a really sour note that it actually struggles to recover from. Yes, you could argue that Beetz' Domino is a rare female superhero that genuinely kicks ass because she does. But Hildebrand's memorable Negasonic Teenage Warhead is reduced to a bit-part by the plot, which gives her nothing to do besides make history as one-half of Marvel's first openly gay relationship seen on screen. Even Blind Al only appears in a couple of scenes - in narrative terms, the film has little time for female representation which might explain Wade's somewhat flexible sexuality and his homoerotic relationship with Colossus.
My other problem, however slight, is that it's just too similar to the first film. It doesn't bring as much to the table as I hoped it would, relying too much on pop-culture references and in-jokes. But in truth, does the film need to push the envelope that much? Those viewers who enjoyed the first film will lap this up just as well and enjoy it just as much. And I'm one of them - I like the character of Deadpool because he lacks the wholesome goodness of traditional Marvel heroes like Iron Man and Thor as well as possessing the same askew moral compass that makes The Punisher so compelling to me. Both of his movies so far are entertaining, adult and different enough from the plethora of other superhero films out there but I do hope that they bring something a little different for any future instalments.
Should I watch it?
Assuming that you enjoyed the first film then the chances are that you'll enjoy Deadpool 2 as well which is every bit as puerile, violent and fun as the original. A word of warning, though - however your little Jimmy or Janey nag you to take them to see this, remember that this is not a film for younger viewers in any way. It's brutal, bloody and not for the squeamish but if you've got the stomach for it, this is an alternative to viewers worried by the Disney-fication of the MCU.
Great For: fans of the character, anyone who enjoyed the first film, Internet nerds
Not So Great For: anyone who grew up in the Golden or Silver Age of Marvel comics, under 18s, feminists
What else should I watch?
Whether Deadpool 2 is intended as a deliberate insult to the MCU, only Reynolds probably knows. But the fact is that while the MCU films are still entertaining, there is a sense of laurels being rested on and especially in the face of the floundering DC Extended Universe with misfires like Suicide Squad and Justice League. Recent MCU efforts like Doctor Strange and Spider-Man Homecoming have left me wanting more although Marvel tend to strike gold with more unconventional characters like Black Panther or those Guardians Of The Galaxy. However, for a superhero film unlike any other, I'd still recommend Hellboy which offers memorable characters, a visually stunning film to savour and plenty of action to keep fans happy.
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© 2018 Benjamin Cox