Nobody saw the success of 2016’s Deadpool coming. Well…nobody except Ryan Reynolds, who fought and bled for the movie that would go on to explode into the public consciousness to the tune of a $783 million box-office run. Fans had been waiting for an adaptation more faithful to the character than the laughably bad debut he had in 2009’s X-men Origins: Wolverine. And boy, did they get it.
It was such a success that a sequel was all but inevitable. But could lightning strike twice for the Merc With A Mouth, or was a successful R-rated superhero film nothing but a lucky fluke?
Well boys and girls, I’m here to tell you that Deadpool 2 captures the spirit of the first film almost exactly. If you loved the irreverence and crassness that permeated the first Deadpool, then you’ll probably have to wear your white pants when you go see Deadpool 2 because it’s going to be right up your alley.
Ryan Reynolds returns as the titular anti-hero in the role he was absolutely born to play. Wade Wilson is still the snarky asshole he was in the first film, a character Ryan Reynolds has been playing for basically his entire career. But this time, he’s looking for a purpose.
Deadpool’s world gets turned upside down early in the film, and he experiences a bit of a moral crisis that sets the stage for the movie to come. If the first Deadpool film was about how Deadpool came into existence, Deadpool 2 is about what that existence means. It’s a strangely heavy existential question that you wouldn’t really expect out of a movie with so many dick jokes, but it’s a nice direction for the franchise to take. We’ve seen this question tackled a few times by other superhero films (Tobey Maguire threw his Spiderman costume in the dumpster in the second entry of his franchise, after all), and so it feels strangely fitting that Deadpool experiences a bit of uncertainty about what to do with the great power he has been given.
The movie’s budget is noticeably higher than the first one, with a lot more fights and use of special effects. Deadpool doesn’t “forget his guns in the taxi cab” due to budget constraints in this one: whatever the movie wants to do, they have the budget to do. This was absolutely the right choice because it allows the movie to tell the story it wants to tell in the way that it wants to tell it. This no-holds-barred approach allows for all kinds of fun cameos and more visually interesting set-pieces and action sequences that might not have been possible if FOX would have been stingy.
If there’s any complaint to be made about an otherwise fun and entertaining film, it’s that a lot of the humor is a bit too on the nose and almost beat-for-beat the same jokes that appeared in the first film. There are jokes about how empty the X-men mansion feels. There are jokes about the Green Lantern. There are jokes about Wolverine and Logan and how bad X-Men Origins: Wolverine was. There are jokes about Ryan Reynolds. There’s a variation on the baby-hand joke from the first-one. T.J. Miller even references his “Ugly avocado” bit from the first movie. It’s just…it’s a lot. It almost feels like the movie has a checklist of obligatory self-aware jokes that they have to make sure they shoehorn in one way or the other. It feels like they were a bit too scared to try and evolve the movie’s humor too much, so played it safe and rehashed the jokes from the first film.
That’s not to say that the movie doesn’t try new things. There are a few gags that are downright hilarious and their unexpectedness is what makes them so fantastic. The cast and their interactions are enough to carry a tried-and-true “can people be redeemed” story, and the X-force teased in the trailers is a roaring success and is something we’ve never really seen from superhero team-up movies before. While Josh Brolin’s “Cable” isn’t as engaging as his “Thanos” from Infinity War, he still brings the majority of the emotional weight and gravitas to the story and does a fantastic job at playing a man who has lost everything.
Deadpool 2 isn’t groundbreaking cinema by any means. Every time I’m asked if it’s better than the first one, I respond “It’s exactly as good as the first one.” Because it is. It isn’t worse, but it isn’t a whole lot better, either. But when you capture lightning in a bottle the first time, is there any real need to change all that much? Can you really improve upon something that’s already basically perfect? You can, but Deadpool 2 doesn’t really bother to push the envelope. It gives you exactly what you want out of a Deadpool movie, and that’s okay. Sometimes it’s enough to just play to your strengths and give people what they expect.
If you’re turned off by violence, swearing, or gratuitous levels of crudeness, then Deadpool 2 probably isn’t for you. But if you’re looking for an irreverent movie in the vein of the first film that pokes fun at all the superhero movies that you’re probably sick of by now, then grab yourself a chimichanga and catch Deadpool 2 on the big screen as soon as you get the chance.