Sophomore efforts are notoriously polarizing, especially when the original work was commercially or critically lauded. Make something too similar and it’s called derivative. Make it too different and you run the risk of alienating the audience that loved the first work. The first Deadpool was like magic in a bottle, being one of the only R-rated superhero movies and not suffering for it. It was based on a character who not only makes fun of himself and his peers but the entire premise of superheros. This sequel sought to do mostly the same thing as well as set up a possible X-Force movie.
Perhaps that’s why Deadpool 2 doesn’t really work. Since we got the origin story in the first movie, there was nothing to compliment all the meta jokes and breaking the fourth wall. At its heart the original was a story of redemption and forging one’s own path, conquering your demons while simultaneously saving the day. This time, we begin our tale with our titular character, “the merc with the mouth” played by Ryan Reynolds, doing what he does best. Things are going swimmingly for him as he cuts people’s heads off and makes jokes about it. It is legitimately funny, I will give it that. But then things take a turn for the worse and our hero then enters a period of depression.
You might think this is a great setup for another redemption tale. While I think that’s what director David Leitch was trying to go for, he has quite a roundabout way of getting to it, so much so that it takes almost 2 hours to get there. The overall plot is very predictable and paper thin. There are a number of scenes that didn’t even need to take place or could have been much shorter. Multiple beloved characters from the comics are introduced and dispensed with almost immediately. Those that do stick around mainly serve as window dressing. It kind of reminds me of another X-Men movie that did the exact same thing–X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Interestingly, Deadpool 2 pokes fun at that film, too.
Even though I didn’t like his story or how he was developed, Cable was portrayed pretty well by Josh Brolin. In fact, his raison d’être is almost identical to Deadpool’s, with time travel. Domino is played by Zazie Beetz, and she definitely makes her more fun than her comicbook counterpart. Firefist is ably played by the young upstart Julian Dennison, his first major role since his debut in the excellent Hunt for the Wilderpeople. In fact, I’d say most of the side characters were great here even though they weren’t given anything meaningful to do. Most of the gags are pretty funny and there’s a ton of gory action to go around. The scriptwriters clearly know that their audience will already be fans of the movie franchise and has zeroed in on them.
If you want to see a movie that’s just good, dumb fun, Deadpool 2 will certainly give you that. However, being a fan of the comics, this movie irritated me more than it should have, particularly over the portrayal of Colossus. The Russian has always been in his metallic form on-screen in the Deadpool films, which is contrary to his depiction in the comics. Furthermore, while I don’t object to making Domino black for this movie (she has chalk-white skin in the comics, but her race is never explicitly stated) the fact that they did so and then didn’t really do anything to develop her implies she isn’t a well-rounded individual. The same with having two lesbian mutants who just stand around and say hi to Wade.
This and the aforementioned treatment of other mutants shows that the scriptwriters don’t really know or appreciate the original characters. They also don’t seem to be very apt in developing new ones. In that respect, this movie seems to just be a giant meta joke about using the shell of a franchise to, instead of tell a competent story with fully fleshed-out characters, make money off of people who don’t know any better. I suppose that’s fine, but I wouldn’t suggest spending money to see it. I’m looking forward to the day that the X-Men movie franchise will be rebooted in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with capable creators at the helm.