The summer of super-heroes continues this month with the release of Deadpool 2. The movie follows closely on the heels of Avengers: Infinity War, which is still steam-rolling its way through the world-wide box office. The R-rated comedy sequel is hotly anticipated after its ground-breaking success in 2016. Unfortunately, the project hasn’t been an easy one to get off the ground thanks to problems plaguing it throughout the production process. So, will Deadpool 2 be the delightful follow-up the first film deserves? Or will it suffer from a case of sequel-itis…
Deadpool 2 sees the return of our titular hero (Ryan Reynolds) who struggles to protect a young boy named Russell, (Julian Dennison) as well as put together a new group of X-Men… X-People… an X-Force, perhaps, in the quest of finding a family in this sea of superhero cynicism. David Leitch directs the movie from a script by Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick and Ryan Reynolds.
Two years ago, Deadpool surprised the heck out of everyone with its stunning success. No one quite knew what to expect from the highly niche character, and previous movie versions failed mightily in tackling the “Merc with a mouth” before. Certain things are hard to capture on film, and this is one of them.
However, this movie comes into life in a drastically different environment. It is no longer a baby film with uncertain goals. Instead, this is a fairly big-budget, superhero tent-pole with the unforgiving weight of expectations now sitting squarely on its shoulders. To make matters worse, Deadpool 2 saw an early creative shake-up. Director Tim Miller left the film before the start of production, only to be replaced by David Leitch, a novice director with only a handful of credits to his name.
Leitch brings an interesting aesthetic to the film. While Deadpool 2 is only his second official directing credit (the first being 2017’s Atomic Blonde), Leitch has amassed a tremendous amount of experience as a stunt coordinator. His earliest credits are in the late 1990s, working on the raunchy comedies of the era like Orgazmo and BASEketball. The young director shows an eye for action sequences in particular, bringing a fast paced and violent flair to his work. While the previous movie is also rated R, Deadpool 2 ups the ante to the violence. Heads fly off, blood spurts, this is a brand new level to the Deadpool we’re used to. Leitch’s direction is solid for an action movie, and the young talent has no where to go but up.
The next portions get a little spoiler-ey. Skip passed the break if you want to be surprised.
Part of what made the first film such a joy to watch was its heart. A Valentines Day release, the film crafted a delightful marketing quirk tying Deadpool in with the see of romantic movies hitting the market at that time, and it worked. Ryan Reynolds achieved a powerful and entertaining chemistry with actress Morena Baccarin. The relationship grounds Wade, and humanizes the characters around them. However, in its treatment of Vanessa, Deadpool 2 completely looses this heart grounding the film in a blatant “fridging” of her character. Ultimately, Vanessa’s means nothing… we are even told this by Wade. Ultimately, the plot points surround this particular character arc (I’m trying desperately to stay as spoiler-free as possible… you’re welcome) can only be described as lazy writing. This series (which rebels against stereotypical tropes) finds itself falling straight into them. Not cool guys… not cool.
The series also makes a questionable decision in how it builds and develops its female characters. In the first film, Deadpool crafted an interesting and unique character in Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand). Perhaps this film attempts to do too much, or it once again looses sight of what made the first film good, but it completely neuters her character. She’s missing a great deal of what made her stand out in the first film, only existing in the film for a as a punch line. With the exception of Domino (Zazie Beetz), the presence of the female characters is barely noticeable. This stands out, especially when considering the roles they each played in the first film.
Meanwhile… TJ Miller’s Weasel has a lot more to do…
End of Spoilers…
Alright… getting back on track. The performances in the film are traditionally great. We learned in the last film that Deadpool is a role Ryan Reynolds is built to play. There’s no one else who could probably bring the same flair to Wade Wilson. While we keep seeing him as a villain this summer, Josh Brolin once again stands out as Than… Cable. Brolin has a knack for humanising his characters, and once again brings a likeable relatability to the challenging anti-hero. Finally, Julian Dennison absolutely kills in his performance as Russell. The young man is relatively new to the Hollywood scene, coming off his recent success in Taika Waititi’s 2016 film Hunt for the Wilderpeople. The actor brings a layered depth to the challenging character, really establishing himself as the emotional centre of the movie.
Finally, be sure to stick around for the post-credit sequences. Not only are they funny, but they provided some of the biggest laughs of the film.
Ultimately, Deadpool 2 is in an unenviable situation. With the massive success of the first film, what was previously a cinematic experiment now finds itself having to perform. They hit it out of the park once… can they do it again? There were some changes to this film (likely due to the changes in creative team), and they are noticeable. However, if you were a fan of the R-rated superhero comedy, you’re likely going to like this one.
Deadpool 2 is playing around the country now.