When Deadpool first triumphantly stormed into theatres in early 2016, it became an instant classic, and a fantastic testament to what an unhinged R-rated superhero blockbuster can truly achieve. Once considered to be one of the most infamously botched characters in 20th Century Fox’s live-action X-Men film universe, after a highly ill-received portrayal in 2009’s maligned X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Deadpool star, Ryan Reynolds eventually convinced Fox to let him take another stab (pun not intended) at Marvel’s beloved fourth wall-skewering Merc With a Mouth, something that worked out nicely when Fox was in danger of losing the rights to Deadpool in the mid-2010’s, due to no further use of them. The rest, of course, is history.
With the original Deadpool now a smash hit with both critics and audiences, even going on to oust 2003’s The Matrix Reloaded as the new record-holder for the highest-grossing R-rated movie of all time, the hype for the inevitable Deadpool 2 quickly grew to epic proportions. Deadpool 2 essentially feels like the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 of 2018, in that it, more than most any other blockbuster, has to somehow capture lightning in a bottle a second time after its predecessor was so revolutionary and genre-defining, and even then, there will be some viewers that are inevitably disappointed by the final product, since the outrageous love for the original quickly renders the sequel an obvious victim of its own hype. Also like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 however, Deadpool 2 is nonetheless a good sequel that effectively accomplishes what a sequel should set out to do, namely pushing the established Deadpool formula forward by building on what’s been previously done, but also avoiding the feeling of recycling what came before.
Whether you prefer the original Deadpool or Deadpool 2 however might possibly be a matter of debate among some moviegoers, since, while both are very good movies, they’re clearly the products of two very different directors, with each emphasizing a different method of style and execution. Where Deadpool felt more recognizable as a comic book come to life on the big screen, Deadpool 2 leans more into the grit and machismo behind Deadpool as a man of action, albeit comical action. Deadpool 2 is also somewhat of an ensemble movie in the end, and an obvious lead-in to Fox’s planned R-rated X-Force ensemble movie, whereas the original Deadpool unfolded pretty much entirely from its titular character’s perspective. The differing styles do make both movies fascinating to enjoy on their own respective merits however, especially when Deadpool 2 still manages to carry just as much laughs, thrills and surprising heart as its predecessor, only in a slightly altered package.
Ryan Reynolds returns as Wade Wilson/Deadpool in Deadpool 2, an irreverent mutant anti-hero operating in the seedier corners of Fox’s live-action X-Men universe, and one that has once again found himself correctly predicting that any respite he finds will soon be taken away from him. After a shocking tragedy that kicks off the sequel’s opening moments, Deadpool finds himself questioning how he can fit into a world that he’s now established his own eccentric place in. After the original movie focused on Deadpool finding some sense of self-acceptance in a world that didn’t seem to want him around, Deadpool 2 finds the character learning to truly open up and connect with those outside of his established circles, which is where the obvious groundwork for the X-Force movie starts being laid out.
The other obvious link to the future X-Force movie is the introduction of Cable, a fan-favourite Marvel mutant and recurring foil to Deadpool in the printed panels, who was promised as far back as the original Deadpool’s tongue-in-cheek post-credits scene. Josh Brolin portrays Cable in Deadpool 2, ironically coming off of another highlight Marvel movie role just a few weeks ago when he exceptionally portrayed villain, Thanos in Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Infinity War, and Brolin once again provides an antagonist that’s as surprisingly deep as he is undeniably menacing. While not a full-fledged villain by any means, Cable is out to mess things up for Deadpool for sure, after the Merc With a Mouth ends up tangled in Cable traveling to the present from his own future timeline, in order to try and save his murdered family from a growing threat that Deadpool has a stake in.
Like Marvel’s own Avengers: Infinity War, Fox’s Deadpool 2 contains quite a few big surprises among its cast as well, and Marvel fans in particular would benefit from knowing as little as possible about this sequel’s personalities and how they’re portrayed before going to see it. Most of the surviving faces from the original Deadpool do return of course, and they’re all as fun as ever, especially since Deadpool 2 is now given a more direct story connection to the rest of Fox’s live-action X-Men universe, even building upon several character turns and story arcs that were featured in prior X-Men and Wolverine movies. The all-new personalities debuting in this movie also manage to easily keep pace in terms of fun and appeal though, with Zazie Beetz’s Domino being the other big standout among the newcomers, alongside Brolin’s Cable. Beetz adds some much-needed female pomp to the otherwise all-male X-Force foundation, and her luck-based mutant abilities nicely lend themselves to equally effective action and humour amid several of Deadpool 2’s highlight sequences.
This just leaves the antagonists of Deadpool 2, with Cable being the only widely-advertised threat in the marketing. As I said however, Cable is certainly not a villain, since there are ultimately other forces providing greater threats to both Deadpool and Cable alike. Talking at all about how the villainous forces come together in Deadpool 2 would constitute significant spoilers though, so I’ll instead simply state that the sequel takes a surprisingly novel direction with its ultimate enemy, one that most viewers would probably never expect. The highly unique and interesting villain conflict is another element that easily separates Deadpool 2 from its predecessor, which had a more straightforward hero-vs.-villain conflict, wherein Deadpool pursued a simple-minded vendetta against Ajax. Deadpool 2’s new direction for its own antagonists adds surprising depth and complexity to a sequel that’s otherwise just as proudly cheeky as its predecessor, and this nicely ends the movie with a feeling that Fox’s Deadpool franchise still has plenty of fuel left in its metaphorical tank.
As with the character arcs, it’s best to know as little as possible about Deadpool 2’s storyline before seeing the movie, since it contains quite a few surprising curveballs that Marvel/X-Men fans especially will get a big kick out of. As Deadpool himself states however, the previous movie was very much a love story, both conventional romantic love and self-love, while Deadpool 2 is more accurately a family movie, even if you should still definitely leave the kids at home! Now that Deadpool has regained the ability to love himself and his life, following the events of the first movie, the character now faces the challenge of learning to find his place with others, while continuing to dodge the pleas of Colossus (once again voiced by Stefan Kapicic), to join the X-Men and start adhering to a higher set of heroic principles.
Deadpool, naturally, still has no interest in being a ‘goody-two-shoes’ hero like the X-Men, and continues to confidently carve out his own hardened niche among criminals across the world, seemingly for the heck of it. This may kick the story off on a reliably fun and amusing note, as we see a montage of Deadpool being himself and leaving a massive, bloody trail of bad guys in his globetrotting wake during the movie’s opening moments, but when reality soon hits again, Deadpool 2 once again has to balance its comedy and its tragedy, as the Merc With a Mouth yet again finds his offbeat values tested. It’s this commitment to not just the character of Deadpool, but learning to believably tie that character in with other characters, that keeps the heart and spirit of this franchise going strong in Deadpool 2. As with the original, this sequel understands that it’s still a character piece at heart, carefully crafting a story that isn’t afraid to be weird, crass or gloriously violent, yet one that also still manages to carry a message and sense of uplifting charm that will empower and excite viewers as much as the more straight-laced Marvel blockbusters ever could.
(NOTE: The spoiler section, when clicked, discusses some of the surprise connections that Deadpool 2 bears with the rest of Fox’s live-action X-Men universe, as well as post-credits scenes, and whether or not Reynolds successfully convinced Hugh Jackman to return as Wolverine)
Disappointingly however, Jackman once again doesn’t appear in the flesh in Deadpool 2, though humourous nods are made to his presence as Wolverine, beyond the stock footage used for the X-Men Origins: Wolverine joke during the credits. The movie begins with Deadpool playing with a Wolverine action figure that’s skewered on a tree, lampooning Wolverine’s death in last year’s Logan, before Deadpool then breaks into a rant about how Wolverine rode his coattails with an R-rated movie. Jackman’s Wolverine is also seen on a cereal box being eaten by a kid after Deadpool crashes through an apartment window in one particular action scene, which also serves as a very clever nod to X-Men spin-off TV series, Legion, since the child is played by the same actor that portrayed the young David Haller in that FX series. It seems as if Reynolds is perhaps trying to annoy Jackman into re-appearing in one of the Deadpool movies, or possibly even X-Force, as the ante is officially upped with Jackman/Wolverine prods in Deadpool 2, though sadly, we have yet to see Jackman actually reprise the role in Fox’s live-action X-Men universe for now. There is also no Stan Lee cameo in Deadpool 2, despite Lee making an appearance in the original Deadpool as a strip club announcer, though a bust of Lee is casually knocked over by Deadpool during his time in the X-Mansion.
Finally, Deadpool 2 further establishes itself as part of Fox’s live-action X-Men universe with more fun appearances and building blocks from other X-Men movies, namely in featuring Juggernaut as a surprise villain during the movie’s second half! Vinnie Jones doesn’t reprise his Juggernaut role from 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand however, with the character now being CG so that he can be larger and more faithful to his portrayal in Marvel Comics lore, plus he’s now voiced by Reynolds, in a humourous turn that buries Reynolds under a booming voice filter as he fights himself voicing Deadpool later in the movie (it’s currently unknown who provided the motion-capture work for Juggernaut). Also featured in Deadpool 2 is Essex Corp., first teased in 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse, and later featured again in 2017’s Logan, manning an orphanage wherein secondary antagonist, Firefist is abused and eventually turned into the bloodthirsty murderer of Cable’s family in the future. This appears to be a simultaneous setup for the eventual creation of Laura/X-23 in Logan, as well as the continually foreshadowed presence of high-profile X-Men foe, Mister Sinister, the owner of Essex Corp., who, after two false starts to try and feature him in Logan and then The New Mutants, now appears to be being teased as the future villain of Fox’s upcoming X-Force movie.
Original Deadpool movie director, Tim Miller didn’t ultimately return to direct Deadpool 2, despite initial plans to do so, due to alleged creative differences with Reynolds and Fox. This led to John Wick co-director, David Leitch being hired to helm Deadpool 2, which explains why Deadpool 2 feels a bit stylistically different in contrast to its predecessor. Whereas the original Deadpool is a more proud and blatant comic book movie in terms of its direction and presentation, Deadpool 2 is presented as a straight up action movie that just happens to star mutants in the lead roles. The result of this revised direction is Leitch going hard at the violence, power and fury behind the action scenes and drama elements, while pretty much every element of the comedy seems to have been intentionally left entirely to Reynolds, who carries much of Deadpool 2’s laughs single-handedly, while almost every other character (save for Deadpool’s civilian friends, Weasel and Dopinder), is played pretty much entirely straight. Fortunately though, Beetz and Brolin especially still manage to provide effective straight players to Deadpool’s material, even if they seem to be answering more to Reynolds than Leitch during the direction of their funnier moments.
On the one hand, the humour certainly isn’t lost when Deadpool is seemingly the only character not wholly taking events seriously, since much of the Deadpool character’s personality and comedy comes from how much he takes the piss out of the more serious Marvel personalities and circumstances around him. On the other hand however, the laughs don’t quite reach the same outrageous highs that they did in the original Deadpool (or even Marvel Studios’ competing Avengers: Infinity War), even if Deadpool 2 is nonetheless still a very funny movie. This is a sequel that feels more gritty than comical at times, but the revised direction still leads to a sequel that, while a bit rougher around the edges sometimes, does create a slightly more potent sense of grounded drama, even when the over-the-top action and comedy certainly aren’t dialed down to any recognizable extent. A pessimist could justifiably dismiss Leitch as feeling more like an obvious director-for-hire than Miller ever did, with much of Deadpool 2’s comedic and dramatic high points seemingly carried on the shoulders of Reynolds and most of the supporting cast, rather than the movie’s director, but the commitment to harder-hitting and more impressive action is nonetheless an impressive contribution from Leitch and his action movie pedigree. Again, whether or not you’ll prefer the direction of the original or the sequel will probably be a matter of debate in this case, but both directing methods certainly have their merits.
Junkie XL sadly doesn’t return to compose the soundtrack of Deadpool 2, departing the sequel alongside original director, Tim Miller, but new composer, Tyler Bates does manage to do a solid job of picking up the reins, even if he does seem to mostly be keeping continuity with Junkie XL’s style in a couple of places. The tongue-in-cheek use of cute, romantic music during otherwise violent and over-the-top scenes remains intact as a popular running gag in Deadpool 2, though Bates does contribute some of his own inspired audio gags, namely with a humourously forced use of dated dubstep tracks whenever Deadpool and Cable fight each other. There are a few other inspired musical touches that prove Bates is very much in on the joke that drives Deadpool 2, and as with the direction, you’ll get a fairly good score that may be preferred by some, even if some might also gravitate more to Junkie XL’s musical stylings from the original Deadpool movie, though both soundtrack styles are very good.
The rest of the soundtrack heavily blends cartoon violence with startingly violent bloodshed, as can be expected, though with Leitch’s increased emphasis on adding a more grounded punch to the action scenes, the imposing might of the violence is cranked up a bit in Deadpool 2’s sound mixing. Those paying the extra premium for an IMAX ticket will probably especially appreciate the harder-hitting action that Leitch provides, since it gets them a bit more of their money’s worth with an IMAX theatre’s souped-up speakers, but even in a standard theatre, you’ll get action that feels a bit more cranked up than it was in the first movie, which played up the humour a bit more than the pain. Deadpool 2 still has some solid laughs in most of its action scenes, thankfully, though it’s Reynolds and his witty delivery that really makes these bits work most of all. If you got a kick out of the satisfyingly brutal action that Leitch and former co-director, Chad Stahleski realized for their 2014 action movie gem, John Wick however, you’ll find that this style also blends nicely with the Merc With a Mouth, since it can now be taken to its logical, lovably squeamish extreme. You’d think that the bad guys would start wearing their brown pants by now!
After Deadpool became one of Fox’s biggest dark horse hits overall in 2016, it seemed inevitable that the studio would grant a bigger budget to the sequel, despite the original thriving with its scrappy, lower-budgeted take on Fox’s live-action X-Men universe. Indeed, the budget has quite literally doubled in Deadpool 2, which translates to a few more directing and visual flourishes, even if the movie still doesn’t go too far off of the rails with its action sequences’ flash factor. Humourously, most of the effects budget in Deadpool 2 appears to have been funneled into jokes, rather than visual upgrades for the action and spectacle (although Cable’s introduction from the future does lead to a few budget taxes too), though it is pretty evident that a few dolled-up sets that never would have been allowed in the first movie do end up showing up in the sequel. Deadpool 2 is also allowed to play with slightly stronger and flashier mutants this time around to boot, even if the mainline X-Men movie personalities are still quite literally hiding from this movie’s events!
Ultimately though, you’re still getting a Deadpool sequel that keeps its priorities in the right place, keeping the action fast-paced, intimate and gritty, without ever relying on cheap effects to distract the audience. Deadpool 2 also continues to shirk a 3D presentation, despite most of Fox’s other current X-Men movies proudly offering 3D cuts, though it once again works here, since 3D would have indeed been a cheap gimmick that Deadpool 2 really doesn’t need in this case. This does mean that premium formats like IMAX are best enjoyed for their upgrades to the sound, not the visuals, mind you, since Deadpool 2’s action and visual effects never see any recognizable upgrade in an IMAX theatre. You are however still getting a well-presented Deadpool sequel in its own right here, regardless of what kind of theatre you see it in, one that keeps the visual flash modest, but never fails to compensate with more highly enjoyable action and good old reliable stunt work. Hell, Deadpool himself even sometimes makes it a point to address the audience and stress that there’s no CG used in several of the stunts, gleefully stressing that his much-anticipated sequel remains too good for cheap visual aids and blatant safety nets.
The original Deadpool may have carried more shock and novelty back in 2016, but in many respects, Deadpool 2 is indeed a bigger, bolder and better sequel. Some may still prefer the original if they don’t take as much to the proud high-testosterone style and intentional stereotype-mocking that seems to provide the foundation for Deadpool 2’s newly-extended family of misfit anti-heroes, but it’s also tough to deny that Deadpool 2 certainly does push this film franchise’s formula forward, providing a clever new conflict for its title character, as well as another great array of laughs, violence and surprising drama. Like its predecessor, Deadpool 2 feels like a movie that has once again defied the odds, somehow managing to yet again bottle that eccentric R-rated superhero lightning with aplomb, while also leaving the door open for more follow-ups to explore unanswered questions and new adventures, even as the proposed Disney takeover continues to loom over Fox like a titan, threatening to waste no time in simply rebooting Deadpool and his supporting personalities for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, despite Fox continuing to do right by them for the time being.
The future of the Deadpool movie franchise is thus a bit up-in-the-air for now, even as Deadpool 2 appears to blatantly lead into Fox’s long-teased X-Force movie in the near future, but this is certainly not because the big screen Deadpool franchise is out of novelty or steam. In fact, Reynolds’ take on the Merc With a Mouth appears to be going stronger than ever by the time the credits of Deadpool 2 roll, seemingly making this Marvel movie brand the one instance where fans might actually be pretty nervous about Disney stopping it cold, if and when they acquire Fox’s film franchises, including the X-Men and Deadpool film rights. The fact that this anxiety clearly exists is perhaps the highest proof that Deadpool 2 is a superb sequel, one that proudly upholds Fox’s X-Men movie selection up by itself in 2018, after this year’s previously-planned releases for The New Mutants and X-Men: Dark Phoenix both ended up slipping into 2019, where they now sit alongside the tentatively-scheduled Gambit.
Even with some of the stylistic and directing changes in Deadpool 2, anyone who loved the original will still certainly love the sequel. Superhero enthusiasts in general will find Deadpool 2 to be another strong testament to the potential appeal of modern R-rated superhero movies as well, even when Marvel Studios and its proudly PG-13-only lineup of current movie projects appears to have largely dominated the current superhero movie landscape. Between Deadpool 2 and the comparably awesome Avengers: Infinity War and Black Panther that released before it, 2018 is looking to be another fantastic year to be a Marvel movie fan so far, despite the delays of Fox’s other two planned Marvel-licensed movie releases into 2019, and even as Ant-Man and The Wasp, Venom and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse remain in the pipeline before this year is out. Regardless of how those movies turn out however, the Merc With a Mouth has definitely still got it, and like so many other moviegoers, I hope that the Mouse keeps his mitts off this franchise for now, since I’m still getting the impression that Deadpool and his mad genius are just getting started in the realm of cinematic glory!
- Interesting, creative new challenge for Deadpool and co. which never recycles the first movie's obstacles
- Heightened commitment to violent, brutal action that doesn't sacrifice good laughs
- Brolin's Cable and Beetz's Domino are outstanding new cast additions that easily keep pace with Reynolds' off-the-wall delivery
- Direction lacks a bit of the clever, more novel style from the first movie
- Not everyone will appreciate the heightened emphasis on high-T machismo