Time to make the chimi-fucking-changas!
“Deadpool 2” rolled into theaters with a great deal of promise. Coming off of the popularity of the first “Deadpool” and the continued success of the R-rated comic book movie with “Logan,” “Deadpool 2” was in good company but still had some heavy lifting to do: living up to the legacy of the first film and continuing to prove that comic book movies can (and should) be for grown-ups. After my viewing, I can confirm that we have a Hollywood rarity…a sequel that is even better than the first.
“Deadpool 2” didn’t feel like a movie. It felt like a tribute. The entire two-hour run time felt like a love letter to anyone that has ever loved film, comic books, or pop culture. The references were clever. The execution fantastic. “Deadpool 2” managed to reclaim threads from his comics without making it feel like we were in some cinematic universe installment. This movie was made lovingly for its audience.
In “Deadpool 2,” we pick up the story in the aftermath of the first film. Wade Wilson (aka Deadpool), the “Merc with a Mouth,” brings together a team of mutant rogues to protect a young boy with powerful abilities from the ruthless, time-traveling baddie, Cable.
“Deadpool 2” is helmed by director David Leitch (“Atomic Blonde”), and stars Josh Brolin as Cable and Ryan Reynolds reprising his (damn-near iconic, by this point) role of Deadpool/Wade Wilson. “Deadpool 2” also features performances by Morena Baccarin, T.J. Miller, Julian Dennison, Zazie Beetz, Terry Crews, Bill Skarsgård and Karan Soni.
We have some truly stellar performances on our hands here, folks. Ryan Reynolds proves, once again, that this was the role he was born to play, and he brings so much fun energy to the role. Reynolds and Deadpool are a perfect marriage between performance and character, and it’s a joy to watch. Zazie Beetz’s Domino was another fun performance to watch and I hope we see a lot more Domino in future films. Young Julian Dennison gave a surprisingly powerful performance as hot-headed mutant Firefist.
But the standout of “Deadpool 2” is Josh Brolin as Cable. Can we just declare Josh Brolin the undisputed king of the multi-dimensional villain? I’m sure his recent performance as the galactic titan, Thanos, is still fresh in our minds from “Avengers: Infinity War” (fun little ditty that it was). Brolin embodies the phrase “kill them softly” in his performance…emphasis on kill. Cable is a bad mamma jamma and is a damn intimidating figure. Josh Brolin’s grizzled delivery is badass and gets the point across without too much flash. No spoilers, but there’s an emotional arc that really digs deep into Brolin’s talents, and he gives a wonderful performance.
“Deadpool 2” is absolutely absurd and it’s wonderful. It brings all the zany humor and vulgarity that we know and love. It strikes the tricky balance of revisiting popular gags from the first movie without making them feel tired. It’s true to the tone, so it’s sure to please.
The true beauty of “Deadpool 2” is its hella strong reference game. The movie is packed full of goodies. If it’s a thing that has fans, there’s probably a reference to it. The references don’t end with pop culture; social commentary isn’t alluded to but is in your face (See X-Force vs. X-Men). It all makes for damn hilarious movie viewing. References always make me a little nervous because they have a way of dating a film and it runs the risk of making a funny movie painfully unfunny, ten years later. “Deadpool 2” does it right and I’m going to tell you why: “Deadpool 2” strikes the balance between callbacks that are timeless and timely. There are just iconic moments in film history that we will always remember. “Deadpool 2” remembers too. There are also trends that perfectly encompass our contemporary. “Deadpool 2” has that covered. It’s a delicate ecosystem that is masterfully executed. Well done.
Like it or not, “Deadpool 2” is the latest chime in a cacophony of superhero movies. So many universes. So many franchises. So many properties. So many potential crossover events and even more extended universes. It’s just a lot of noise. How does “Deadpool 2” stand out? It reams the ever-loving shit out of its own genre. No one is safe: No universe. No movie. No previous character or incarnation of a character. “Deadpool 2” gives the middle finger to Marvel vs. DC, it wants both. Josh Brolin played Thanos? Yup, and it gets addressed. “Deadpool 2” is comfortable poking fun at all the superhero bullshit. It was charming in the first movie and it’s a perfected, petty art form in the sequel.
Now, I’m not the biggest superfan of the Deadpool comics but I’m no greenhorn. Deadpool is a bit of a wild card and isn’t as bound to particular storylines as, say, Spider-Man but he’s still a character with a rich and documented history. This is not the focus of the movies, but there are very subtle nods here and there that make for an extra-gratifying experience (should you be of the particular nerdy subset of the audience). Chiefly among these is a “blink-and-you-might-miss-it” subtle nod to Lady Death. Lady Death is an object of Deadpool’s affections in the comics and that dynamic is a fan favorite; also a point of fan concern, given that Thanos also shares a connection to Death and many were afraid she’d be totally lost in the void between the split properties. These nods are very small, but if you know where to look they are quite clear. Fingers crossed for more in the future.
The idea of small impact is an undertone that adds such richness to “Deadpool 2.” The movie is clever. Not just in that in-your-face, hilarious way that we’ve come to expect, but in very subtle cues. The small stuff that you miss, at first. A praise that I bet will go widely unnoticed in other “Deadpool 2” reviews is that this movie was especially good at subtle music cues. The soundtrack is just great, but there are very small changes in the soundscape that weave in and out. It’s quite elevated – more so than you might assume would be the case for a movie like this one.
I’ll say one more thing about the cleverness of “Deadpool 2.” This movie knows how to shut up picky fans. The first movie in the franchise got a lot of flack for some of the plot holes and for being too isolated from the rest of the X-Men. “Deadpool 2” gives those critiques the finger with several well done sight gags and the answer to the burning question, “Where are all the other X-Men?”
Instead of folding under pressure and instead of sticking to the safe formula of the first, “Deadpool 2” fully realized itself. It was comfortable in its rating, had learned its audience, and gave 110% in the execution. I highly recommend it!
Caitlin is a lean, mean writing machine based in Austin, TX. Her love of film began when she was shown “Rosemary’s Baby” way too early in life. She currently serves as the Lead Film Contributor for Shuffle Online; other notable bylines include The Financial Diet and Film Inquiry. Caitlin is a member of the Online Association of Female Film Critics and the Women Film Critics Circle.