“Deadpool” hit theaters in 2016 with a mountain of hype behind it. Years of rumors followed the lackluster treatment of the character in the X-Men universe. Word was that Ryan Reynolds was going to fix it all. Reynolds was going to give the character the love he deserved.
The iron was hot when the first film hit. The popularity of the superhero movies it was aping reached a peak as the Avengers dominated theaters. Two years later, the success of “Deadpool” has made the character a household name, and the sequel has just hit screens. However, just like the films it’s aping, the challenges of a big-budget super-sequel make no exceptions for “Deadpool 2.”
The set up for this one is simple. Motivated by loss, Reynolds’s Deadpool must form a team to take down Cable, a time-traveling mutant, before he takes out a young orphan mutant, a la “Terminator 2” or “Looper.”
This setup gives opportunity for the golden ticket every franchise is looking for, the “cinematic universe.” Every studio wants to see the same success Marvel Studios has had with the “Avengers” films. “Deadpool 2” is keenly aware of this, often making reference to it with Deadpool holding a casting call for people young enough to “take this franchise 10-12 years.”
Just like those films, this sequel battles with the fatigue we feel after seeing dozens of these action movies. The set pieces are just as big with the explosions and carnage you expect, but it’s hard not to feel like it’s all kind of the same. This is amplified by the merely passable CGI work on display, which is less excusable when the success of the first film earned this one a larger budget.
But one doesn’t come to see a Deadpool film for just the action. Deadpool is a potty-mouthed, fourth wall-breaking wise-cracker. In some ways, it feels the writers have doubled down on the comedy here. Often it works as there are some clever visual gags, many you’ll miss if you dare blink. But a lot of the humor is comprised of references to recent Marvel films (to paraphrase, “hey, does anyone remember Logan?”) and current events that won’t age terribly well. Also present are many callbacks to jokes that worked far better in the first film.
That isn’t to say that the film isn’t funny — there were a few times that I let out a belly laugh – but often times I felt like the grumpy old man when the toilet humor only made me groan.
The brightest spot of the movie was not in Josh Brolin’s Cable, but in newcomer Domino, charmingly played by Zazie Beetz. She arguably has the most broken superpower, being incredibly lucky. What this amounts to is a sense of confidence in the way Domino carries herself that makes it impossible not to fall in love with her.
This leaves one with hope for the direction the series will take, as more characters are introduced to share the spotlight with Reynolds. This film in many ways feels like an in-between to set up for the big team-up of the X-Force, making it very much a product of the current age of blockbuster films. All things considered, “Deadpool 2” still has enough charm to stand up next to the first despite its inherent “sequelitis.”