By Andrew Jenck
I have a confession to make: I’m not too keen on the first Deadpool movie. It was decent and the mere fact that an R-rated, mainstream superhero film existed was cool, but what everyone praised to be risky and groundbreaking felt calculated to me. For a film making fan of superhero tropes, the film relied heavily on the tropes — a generic revenge tale, mostly bland action, and humor you’d find on any other adult-cartoon. For me, it was just an okay action film helmed by a great lead performance and nothing more. As such, I approached the next installment with skepticism, as its marketing showed more of the same and set up yet another team-up movie. However, what I overlooked is the new director, David Leitch, co-director of John Wick, and it shows.
Deadpool 2 is one of the best sequels I’ve seen in the past few years, being able to improve upon every aspect from the first movie while feeling like the breath of fresh air that everyone considered the first film. The jokes are more creative, the action is more inventive, and there is a surprising amount of genuine heart. 20th Century Fox seems to have loosened the grip on the filmmakers this time around, after the first film proved to be successful and their marketing campaign trusted that character would be enough to sell the movie, to the point where the best jokes, the third act, and a fan-favorite character are saved for the film itself. It’s so refreshing to be genuinely surprised in a movie, but that’s not the only reason why it’s so great.
More care and development are given to Deadpool/Wade Wilson, as they harp more on the character’s tragedy, immortality, and feeling uncontrolled. While merchandise and pop culture have made the character more comedic, his publication history consists of tragedy, something that the film plays off of really well. Granted, some may prefer the smaller scale, consistently structured plot of the first film, as the film does have a bit of a cluttered first act and a rather flimsy structure. One of Leitch’s strengths, though, is his ability to take generic sounding premises and execute them to the fullest. Pacing and character interaction play a vital role in Wade’s development and allow for fun character dynamics.
The action has substantially improved, as its R-rating is used to a far greater extent; if you thought the first film was gruesome, your stomach is really going to be upset watching this. The film opts for a more bloody approach, not to the point where it’s too much but know that going in. Leitch takes full advantage of Deadpool’s healing factor, leading to some great and often hilarious sequences of Deadpool using his limbs alone to fight. One set piece, in particular, shows his newly founded team: X-Force, and it’s a hilarious rift on the franchise building that has overtaken Hollywood. Yet amidst all the over the top action and meta-humor, there still lies alot of heart with great themes, including a bit of the commentary found from the X-Men. I can’t go into too much detail for spoilers’ sake, but each character adds more depth to Deadpool while still being interesting in their own right. Josh Brolin, in particular, once again gives a great performance in a comic book role — he’s becoming one of my favorite working actors right now.
Any complaints are relatively minor: some of the jokes don’t work and the previously mentioned structure problems, but they’re easy to forgive when the film is so much fun. Deadpool 2 is what I wanted the first film to be and will still please fans of the first. It’s a top-shelf superhero film that manages to have action without reliance on shaky-cam and has great character development. This film is a blast, and I look forward to the upcoming X-Force.