Ryan Reynolds' wisecracking still packs a punch, and the film's meta sendup of blockbuster tropes flips the bird at Hollywood.
2016's Deadpool revitalized the Marvel format: What could easily be another archetypal blockbuster, Deadpool introduced a type of grit and naughtiness to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Rated R, filled with suggestive jokes, and jam-packed with dismembered bodies and decapitations, Deadpool isn't an ordinary superhero franchise; it breaks the fourth wall and then some, barreling its way through superhero tropes and providing an abrasive alter-ego compared to Marvel's more wholesome offerings.
Everyone is in on the joke, so when Deadpool's girlfriend is killed 10 minutes in, it's only fitting that the opening title sequence nods to her unexpected passing—but, given the nature of Deadpool, a franchise that has always served as a meta-commentary on the superhero industry, its unintended sequel has a way of showing all the strings being pulled to keep the show running.
Where exactly can you take a franchise like this? There are only so many gags about X-Men and the movie's humble budget ($58 million) that can be made, and there's plenty of that in this film, including a scene where Deadpool opens a door in Xavier's mansion revealing X-Men's better-known heroes. Deadpool 2 has plenty of fun disrupting X-Men origin narratives, even poking fun at Wolverine's/Logan's recent departure from the silver screen.
But even as a stand-alone action flick, Deadpool 2 is a serviceable blockbuster without writer-producer-star Ryan Reynolds, whose wisecrack performance redeems 2011's ever-disappointing Green Lantern. Finding his niche as a jokester in a red padded suit, Reynolds steals every scene; his comedic timing and puppyish antics give life to a character that would otherwise be a jackass-y burn victim incapable of dying.
For an anti-hero, Deadpool is quite lovable. He meanders around, picking fights and making obscure film references. He drinks and smokes and makes friends with taxi drivers. He's like Peter Parker's older, cooler, and unemployed step-brother. It makes for entertaining chaos, with Deadpool usually initiating some type of violent action sequence where he's shot multiple times, dismembered, or torn in half. You'll see some of the most brutal action sequences in Deadpool 2—the choreography is smoother, faster, more creative, and chaotically paced. Everything that elevated Deadpool from other shoot 'em up action flicks is here in Deadpool 2, injected with steroids and Red Bull: shifty, fourth-wall-breaking action sequences; dubstep; inappropriate sexual innuendos; the self-referential mythology of Marvel's interconnected family of superheroes—now we can add gags about Deadpool's regenerating body and baby legs to the mix.
Deadpool 2 also benefits from a small cast, something recent Marvel offerings (Infinity War and Thor: Ragnarok) avoid like the plague. Bigger isn't always better and Deadpool 2 utilizes its supporting characters sparingly, killing them off moments after introducing them: A comedic highlight comes after Deadpool enlists his own team of heroes (reductively) named the "X Force," most notable, Zazie Beetz's Domino (whose powers of "luck" make for a lighthearted addition to Deadpool 2's whimsical unseriousness).
When Deadpool and his team of misfits go off to save a young mutant orphan, Russel aka Firefist (Julian Dennison), the movie shows its more endearing and family-oriented sentiments. The bad guy and Deadpool's stoic foil, Cable (Josh Brolin), is determined to stop Russell since he's seen, in the future, just how destructive his powers are to society, and more specifically, his own family. Still sassy, profane, inappropriate, and wildly fun, Deadpool 2 proves it's a notable franchise in its own right. Ryan Reynolds' wisecracking still packs a punch, and the film's meta sendup of blockbuster tropes flips the bird at Hollywood. And it's still refreshing to see a superhero who actually doesn't care—so many of the others do, and they aren't as fun.