Deadpool 2 is here to finally knock Avengers: Infinity War off the box office’s top shelf. It’ll no doubt succeed, but how does the movie compare?
It’s really a double-sided question, as you can compare Deadpool 2 to Avengers as well as to the first Deadpool movie – and the outcome would be very different. Infinity War and Deadpool both feature Josh Brolin (as Ryan Reynolds’ character is keen to point out), but Deadpool really excels as pointing out – sometimes very bluntly – how different he is from “all those other superhero movies”.
Over the course of Deadpool 2, he makes fun of the DC Universe and the X-Men, even though he exists in the same world as the latter and visits Dr. X’s house frequently. We catch a glimpse of Beast, but for most of the movie we have to settle for the likes of Yukio, Negasonic Teenage Warhead and Colossus. Deadpool references Wolverine’s death, rides around in Xavier’s wheelchair and plays around with cerebro – he doesn’t consider himself part of their group, yet joins them as a trainee anyway.
That’s where he first meets Russell, a troubled teenager with the ability to torch up the place thanks to his flaming fists. He’s being tortured at the facility he stays at, and fury and recklessness grow inside him as a result. It’s not long before Deadpool and Russell both end up in prison, which is where Josh Brolin’s time traveling cyborg Cable introduces himself with a bang. He’s after Russell, who apparently becomes a violent killing machine as he grows up and has killed Cable’s family. In a 1984’s Terminator-like plot, Cable’s here to kill Russell before that all happens. Don’t worry, the irony is not lost on Deadpool.
Along the way, Deadpool and his buddy Weasel (TJ Miller) start recruiting new superheroes to aid them as well, though these characters don’t get a lot of screen time and mainly seem to serve as comic relief – with the exception of Zazie Beetz’ Domino. Her “ability” is that she’s just very lucky, which makes for some great narrow escapes and twists during action sequences.
Despite the new characters, Deadpool 2 rarely manages to surprise. We’d already seen a lot of material in the (excellent) trailers, and the sequel is essentially Deadpool 1 done bigger, better and more obscene. If you liked the first one, you’ll like this one – that’s the short version of this review. If you didn’t, then perhaps it’s not your kind of style of humor, though there are a few other prerequisites for enjoying a movie like Deadpool 2…
As much as Deadpool likes to show us that he’s different from the rest of the pack, how well the movie echoes with the audience depends largely on how well versed they are in pop culture references and the superhero genre in particular. It’s entirely acceptable if you don’t recognize Barbra Streisand’s Yentl clip, but if you’re unfamiliar with the X-Men and Avengers then a lot of the joke material here is going to be lost on you. Luckily, most viewers will have no doubt seen a good portion of those movies and will definitely get a kick out of the references. It’s not as reference-heavy as Ready Player One was, but Deadpool 2 certainly loses appeal when watched by a crowd without much previous knowledge. It might, for portions of it, stop making sense altogether….
If anything, Deadpool 2’s main protagonist and the various action sequences are designed to be outrageous. Enemies (as well as friends) get skewered, blown up, ground up and beaten up – and of course there’s Deadpool’s fourth wall-breaking commentary throughout all of this. He acts as part time narrator, comments on similarities to other movies and disses the quality of the writing as well. It’s exactly the kind of stuff that many fans of the comic book genre enjoy doing, which makes the movie a great fit for them. If you easily get annoyed at that then this isn’t your movie… but then again, in that case, you must have hated the first movie as well. If you didn’t, then – like me and many others – you’ll definitely enjoy Deadpool 2. It’s far less grand in scale as the recent Avengers movie, but it trumps it in terms of its outrageous humor and meta-commentary on the entire genre. In those signature Deadpool areas, it’s also better than the first one.