“From the studio that killed Wolverine!” the poster proclaims.
“Directed by the man who killed John Wick’s dog” the opening credits announce.
Deadpool 2 is so meta that it even opens with a close-up of a figurine of Hugh Jackman impaled on a rock or a branch or whatever it was that finally killed him at the end of Logan. Deadpool, the irrepressible and nearly indestructible mercenary played by Ryan Reynolds, announces that he’s willing to accept the challenge posed by Logan‘s tragic ending. Deadpool promises us that, in the movie we’re about to watch, he’ll die as well. Deadpool then proceeds to blow himself up.
Of course, those of us who have seen first Deadpool film know better than to panic when Deadpool’s severed head flies at the camera. Deadpool heals so quickly that, as long as his powers are working, he can’t be killed. If he gets shot or stabbed, the wound heals almost immediately. Broken bones mend themselves in record time. When Deadpool literally gets ripped in half, he promptly starts to grow new legs. Without his powers, of course, Deadpool would have died a long time ago. He has cancer, a fact that the film doesn’t dwell upon but which still adds a bit of unexpected depth to the character and his trademark dark humor.
Of course, Deadpool is not just unique because his near-immortality. Deadpool is also unique in that he, and he alone, understands that he’s a character in a movie. Even more importantly, he understands that he’s a character who is being played by an actor named Ryan Reynolds. (Some of Deadpool 2‘s best jokes — which I won’t spoil here — are at the expense of some of Reynolds’s earlier career choices.) While everyone else in the film is taking things very seriously, as characters in comic book films tend to do, Deadpool is pointing out all of the clichés and even the occasional plot hole. When Cable (Josh Brolin), a cyborg warrior from the future, offers up a hasty explanation for why he can’t just use time travel to solve all of his problems, Deadpool dismisses it as “lazy writing.”
With the monster success of Wonder Woman, Infinity War, and Black Panther, Deadpool is the hero that we now need. I mean, let’s be honest. Comic books movies can be a lot of fun and, right now, we’re living in the golden age of super hero cinema. At the same time, these films can occasionally get a little bit pompous. Think about the unrelenting grimness of the DC films. Think about all the sturm und drang that made up the undeniably effectively ending of Infinity War. It in no way detracts from those films to say that Deadpool’s refusal to take either himself or the movie too seriously often feels like a breath of fresh air. Deadpool is the one hero who is willing to say to the audience, “Yes, it’s all ludicrous and silly and occasionally a little bit lazy. Isn’t it great?”
And yet, even with all that in mind, Deadpool 2 has a surprisingly big heart. Even while it encourages us to laugh as its excesses, the sequel makes clear that it has a bit more on its mind than the first film. Deadpool 2‘s plot deals with the efforts of both Deadpool and Cable to track down an angry mutant who goes by the somewhat regrettable name of Firefist (Julian Dennison). Cable has come from the future to kill Firefist and prevent him from eventually destroying the world with his anger. As for Deadpool, he feels that the spirit of someone he loved wants him to save Firefist. As for Firefist himself, he’s an escapee from the Essex Home For Mutant Rehabilitation, a Hellish orphanage where the hypocritical headmaster and his perverted staff attempt to torture young mutants into being normal human beings. The parallel to conversion therapy is an obvious one and there’s always just enough outrage underneath the film’s humor.
Deadpool 2 is a fast-moving and quick-witted sequel and Ryan Reynolds is, once again, perfect in the role of the demented lead character. The jokes are nonstop and fortunately, so is the action. There’s a lengthy fight between Cable and Deadpool that’s destined to go down as a classic. Another exciting scene opens with parachutes and ends with … well, I can’t tell you. I won’t spoil it, beyond to say that sometimes, being a hero is all about good luck. Deadpool 2 is an ultra-violent, ultra-profane action-comedy with a heart of iron pyrite. It’s not a film to take the kids too. Deadpool himself points that out. (He also points out that the babysitter is probably stoned by now.) However, Deadpool also says that this sequel is a film about family and, amazingly enough, it turns out that he’s not lying.
So far, 2018 has been the year of the comic book movie and Deadpool 2 is a welcome addition.