Even the plot summary for Deadpool 2 is amusing: “Searching to regain his spice for life, as well as a flux capacitor, Wade must battle ninjas, the yakuza, and a pack of sexually aggressive canines, as he journeys around the world to discover the importance of family, friendship, and flavor…”
Why is that so funny? Because absolutely none of that happens in the movie. That’s what the two Deadpool films have been about—subverting expectations of what a superhero story is, how vulgar a hero can be, what other superhero movies the hero can reference (including titles from other comic book universes), and how many times the fourth wall can be shattered in the name of dissecting the way comic book movies are written.
For those who see every superhero film but fatigue has not set in, the Deadpool movies are exactly what you need to keep things fresh and different, unafraid to make fun of the very universe it occupies. This time around, stunt coordinator-turned-director David Leitch (Atomic Blonde) takes our antihero (Ryan Reynolds, also lending a hand with the screenplay) through something of a family-driven story rather than the love story of the first film. After Wade/Deadpool suffers a terrible tragedy in his life, he’s looking for a way to end it all, which is tough when you basically can’t die.
But he meets a troubled mutant teen named Russell (Julian Dennison of Hunt for the Wilderpeople), who seems hellbent on killing the head of the orphanage where he’s been living (Eddie Marsan). Wade manages to talk the kid out of cold-blooded murder, but they end up in a special mutant prison where they have their power dampened and their lives put in serious danger, which immediately inspires Russell to plot an escape.
Deadpool 2 covers a lot of ground both in the story and character departments. At one point, Deadpool again bemoans the fact that he still can’t seem to team up with any other X-Men besides classic character Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), who now has a girlfriend named Yukio (Shioli Kutsuna), who couldn’t be any sweeter. And while Wade complains, familiar-looking faces quietly shut the door behind him so as not to be seen. Characters from the first film are back in essentially the same capacity: lady love Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), sidekick Weasel (T.J. Miller), Blind Al (Leslie Uggams) and taxi driver/best buddy Dopinger (Karan Soni), who now sees himself as a would-be superhero himself, inspired by Deadpool to murder any bad guy he can find.
One of the highlights of Deadpool 2 is the new characters, including Deadpool’s primary adversary, the cyborg from the future Cable (Josh Brolin, fresh from playing Thanos in that other Marvel movie still in theaters). Anyone who knows Cable from the comic books knows he’s not exactly a villain, so it’s not tough to guess that his Terminator-like storyline is probably something he’s doing for a good reason. Deadpool pulls together a group of mutants—including Domino (Zazie Beetz from “Atlanta”), Zeitgeist (Bill Skarsgard), Shatterstar (Lewis Tan), Bedlam (Terry Crews), some rando actor playing The Vanisher, and a badass known simply as Peter (Rob Delaney)—to deal with the threat of Cable under the derivative team name X-Force, with unexpectedly hilarious results.
I hope Cable and Domino stick around in the X-Men universe, because they are certainly two of the most interesting characters its ever contained, and certainly ones whose backstories are worth mining and incorporating into the mutant mythology. By bringing in so many new faces to the X-franchise, Deadpool 2 actually attempts to do a bit more world building than the first film did. In addition, it also aims a few choice bullets right for the old ticker, and actually hits a few bullseyes. There are a few characters this time around who are experiencing genuine pain, and rather than just ignore it or make light of it, director Leitch attempts to address and cope.
Deadpool 2 isn’t just a better movie than the first, which I liked a great deal, it’s a more complete work with a more engaging story, better action sequences, bloodier gore, and humor that not only makes you laugh but digs into the world of superhero movie making and rips out its guts for the world to giggle at. Hell, the filmmakers even attempt to rectify the wrongs of Deadpool’s first on-screen appearance. There’s a lot to digest here, but when all is said and done, it’s a very satisfying meal.