Looks like I’m back on superhero movies. We recently saw both Deadpool 2 and Avengers: Infinity War, but Deadpool 2, I think, is a bit easier to write about, so I’m doing that one first.
Let me warn you now, there be spoilers in this review. If you haven’t seen it, then here’s your one sentence spoiler-free review: If you liked Deadpool 1, you’ll like how Deadpool 2 is even more Deadpoolier than Deadpool 1. To clarify, everything Deadpool 1 did right, Deadpool 2 does right, again, and better. But it also gets some similar bits wrong. Look, if you liked Deadpool and felt like it was money well-spent, then you’ll enjoy Deadpool 2 and it will, again be money well-spent. It’s hilarious and it’s fun. There.
Now, buckle up, this train is entering Spoilerville.
Deadpool 2 is a hell of a lot of fun and I laughed a lot… probably as much as I laughed in Thor: Ragnorak, which as my 2017 Movie Roundup post mentioned, was the funniest movie of 2017. There are also some excellent action sequences and a vehicle convoy set-piece that kicked all kinds of ass. This should come as a surprise to nobody who has seen John Wick, since the two films share a director in David Leitch (who also directed the largely overlooked, Atomic Blonde). Ok, some clarification, David Leitch was an uncredited co-director on John Wick, but still generally accepted as one of the two directors of John Wick. Interesting side note, he was also Brad Pitt’s stunt double on several films, which explains a lightning fast Vanisher cameo in a particularly amusing sequence in which most of Deadpool’s X-Force team meet untimely ends.
I will say that the climactic showdown at the end, in my mind did not qualify as an ass-kicking set-piece mostly because it takes place outside a rather pedestrian looking boys home. Nothing as visually interesting and impressive as Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters and certainly nothing as dynamic as a broken-down and abandoned Helacarrier the climax of the first film took place on. It looked almost like a post office. Yay, a post office. Woo! Of course, eagle-eyed easter egg gathering viewers will have taken note that that boys home was called The Essex House for Mutant Rehabilitation, most certainly a reference to Nathaniel Essex, aka, Mister Sinister. But whether that was a one off reference for fans, or a genuine allusion of Deadpool plots to come remains to be seen.
Okay, now let’s talk about Cable. Cable is a pretty interesting character in the comics with a complicated backstory and mercurial motivations that has made him a fan favorite over the years. Unfortunately, Deadpool 2 chose to streamline that all into an extraordinarily bland, villain murder’s dude’s family, dude goes back in time to save them by killing bad dude when he’s a kid story trope. We’ve seen this before, of course. He’s a tough-as-nails, no nonsense, stoic anti-hero played perfectly by Josh Brolin, and is a perfect foil for Deadpool’s buffoonery. They have great chemistry, whether they’re fighting/annoying each other, or working together/annoying each other. But that transition from one to the other felt a bit cheap. And part of the problem is that the movie doesn’t really have a clear cut villain. There’s a villain in the future Cable has traveled back in time to stop, but in the present he’s just a mixed up kid that we the audience feel genuine sympathy for. He’s had it bad and sometimes a bad situation creates a bad person. Deadpool thinks he can prevent him from going full-bore supervillain and Cable doesn’t. It’s kinda boring. For a superhero movie, even one that takes pride in subverting expectations, it’s bland stuff. Compared to Magneto, The Winter Soldier, Killmonger, and Thanos, Russell fucking Collins is kinda a letdown. Hell, he calls himself Firefist and that’s not much better than Russell. Towards the end they pair him up with Juggernaut, but by then its too little too late. It feels shoehorned in and the stakes don’t feel raised in the slightest. Which is yet another problem. Cable’s backstory is only briefly touched upon so we don’t really understand what it is that’s at stake. We know his wife and child were killed, but we don’t really know why. We know Cable is a soldier from the future but we don’t know any more than that. A soldier in what army? Why does he have a time travel device? How does that even work? Is he the only one that has one and if so, why? Has he traveled in time before? If so, when? Why? And again, who the fuck is Russell fucking Collins in the future? We don’t really know. It’s frustrating. On a character level, it’s frustrating, but on a larger scale its representative of Deadpool 2’s (and the first film to a certain extent) biggest problem. That problem is thin, clunky plotting. What’s the point of satirizing comic book movies if you don’t have a solid movie to satirize with? At one point, Deadpool quips about lazy writing, but that joke ultimately doesn’t work because it’s all lazy writing. If just that scene had a been a loosie-goosie hack-written moment within a razor-sharp script, it would have carried far more weight. But as it stands Deadpool 2’s lazy and simplistic plot isn’t capable of sustaining the subversion of comicbook movie standards they’re going for. His jokes are funny, but they’re surface level. Ultimately, they end up being slapstick instead of satire. The filmmakers have substituted gags for wit. And it’s a pitiable near-miss. Imagine if they took all the Deadpool sensibilities and applied it to the tightly-plotted 70’s style political thriller we got in Captain America: The Winter Soldier? That’s a Deadpool movie I’m dying to see.
Deadpool is funny. Don’t get me wrong, I laughed a lot. And the action, for the most part is top-notch. I just wish they spent a little more time orchestrating a storyline worthy of lampooning, if that makes any sense.
I’d like to make one last observation, a missed opportunity, if you will. Wade Wilson’s girlfriend, again is relegated to a mere damsel in distress in this one, much as she was in Deadpool 1. Only in part 2, they kill her off in the opening scene. At least in part 1 we understand why Wade falls in love with her. She’s developed as a character rather than as a lazy catalyst for an even lazier story. What I would have loved to have seen was a subverted approach to a damsel in distress. Why shouldn’t Vanessa be able to handle herself in a fight? She’s not a superhero, but she’s dating one. Wouldn’t it stand to reason that Wade would have taught his girlfriend to defend herself? She’s had a hard life, we know that, and she’s come out of relatively unscathed. She’s a person with life experience, courage in the face of adversity. I would have loved to have seen her kick a little ass in that opening seen. Let’s see Vanessa fight for what she loves. Let the expected damsel in distress turn out to be the hero, if only in one scene. Then kill her off. At least then, it defies some expectation, even if just a little bit.
I enjoyed Deadpool 2. I just wish it was as smart as it thinks it is.
p.s. I didn’t touch upon Domino, the one surviving member of Deadpool’s team he assembles to take down Cable early in the film. Her superpower is that she’s lucky. Deadpool himself says it doesn’t sound like a superpower and that it’s not very cinematic, but the filmmakers have a lot of fun with her. I look forward to more Domino in the upcoming X-Force movie, which I think has been pretty plainly setup by Deadpool 2.
p.p.s. Peter W., I don’t have superpowers I just thought the ad sounded fun, is an extended gag that really works. Part of me hopes we see Peter in X-Force, part of me hopes he stays perfectly executed as he was in Deadpool 2, never to be seen again. Until Deadpool 5 or 6.
p.p.p.s Last thought… I’m already tired of the X-Men tie-ins to Deadpool. They had a very clever group cameo in Deadpool 2 and I hope they leave it at that. Let X-Men be X-Men, let Deadpool be Deadpool. They don’t have to constantly intersect and hopefully an X-Force movie is a step in that direction.
p.p.p.p.s. Okay, last post-script. The mid-credits scene at the end of Deadpool 2 is fucking great. If you’ve read this far, then you know what I mean. If you haven’t seen the movie yet and have read this far, what the hell is wrong with you?