In February of 2017, Fox did something remarkable and made a financially successful movie based on a character from the X-Men universe: Deadpool. Having long been Marvel’s Merc with a Mouth, Deadpool features a wise-cracking, crass anti-hero that they managed to bring to the large screen. With a small budget, Fox managed to craft a hit. And whether you will think if Deadpool 2 is an excellent movie will hinge on really just 1 question: Do you really like Deadpool?Part of what made Deadpool a success is the irreverent tone that the creator took in making the film. And that approach makes sense for the character. An ultra serious Deadpool winds up with a train wreck of a character that they found in the atrocious X-Men Origins: Wolverine. (Fox and the greater cinema going public would all like you to forget that that is where Ryan Reynolds first donned the red and black costume.)
So, that irreverent tone works really well in Deadpool. But it is also what fails the movie in the sequel.
Does Deadpool 2 have lots of crass, rude humor and jokes? Yes, it does. There are jokes that make you cringe, jokes that are tremendous digs at the era of comics that produced Deadpool and more. One of the ongoing production efforts that Fox has is that when you have a character like Deadpool whose mouth is never seen, you can keep rewriting and punching up jokes well after filming has ceased in production.
I am sure that the lines the audience hears in watching Deadpool 2 have been workshopped, re-recorded and updated repeatedly. So, there are moments where the film is funny, if you can enjoy sophomoric humor. But what Deadpool 2 does that I see as its fatal flaw is that it tries to be more and it cripples not just the part it tries to add on but also the part that the first so good.
(Spoilers from this point forward.)
Review of Deadpool 2: Deadpool Loses Its Way
Deadpool 2 tries to give itself a heart. Early on in the movie, we see Wade Wilson and his love Vanessa celebrating their first anniversary and her gift to him is to be off birth control. And, holy god, what a terrible idea this is. Even when you are on Deadpool’s side, the idea of him being a parent is horrific.
One of the things that my friends have mentioned on social media is that there have been small children in the 5-6 year old range at the showings of this movie. And, you can imagine, that is a terrible, awful parenting choice. In the real world, no child that age should be seeing this, especially when there is a scene that I am sure was cut and recut to just get under the NC17 rating.
I point all that out to say that kind of parent is what Wade and Vanessa would be. Sorry. I can’t get onboard for it. I am not saying every parent has to be the best and walk around with a “World’s Greatest Mom” coffee cup but, goodness, these 2 damaged people trying to raise others in the world? Nope. There is nothing funny about that, not even in a People of Wal-Mart or fail videos on YouTube kind of way.
In giving that heart, showcased by the rejected Fast and Furious line, “Family doesn’t have to be an F word” sentiment, it makes the rest of the movie feel like it is unsure of itself. Am I supposed to take this seriously? Am I supposed to laugh? And the reality is that it is so uneven, you never know what to do.
For instance, Deadpool has to recruit a team to help him save Rusty Collins aka Firefist, an overweight mutant boy who has been abused and hurt. So, we get a humorous X-Force creation scene that ends with a speech from Deadpool speaking about his new family and protecting Rusty.
It is all quite touching. Until the next scene when the X-Force characters all parachute to horrific deaths in what I think is supposed to be a comic fashion. I can freely admit that as a fan of that era of comics, watching the creators be so irreverent with their deaths and do it so quickly soured part of the movie for me but their ambiguous “Am I supposed to care now or not?” moments made it hard to decide what is going on.
That isn’t to say that the movie doesn’t have some really bright moments. Domino as portrayed by Zazie Beetz is a revelation. Smart, funny, and willing to mix it up in a fight, she is a remarkable foil to Deadpool; where his healing factor means that he will never die and shapes his mad, humorous take on the world, her luck powers essentially have given her nearly the same but it comes across as a much more joyful and expectant way of life.
I also think that Rusty Collins as portrayed by Julian Dennison is a great character who might manage to really give the franchise some heart. But those bright moments aren’t enough to salvage this mess of a movie.
And Cable is just, sorta, there. Other than his time traveling device being vital for the post-credit scenes and him running around and fighting, I could care less about Cable in this movie, which has to be disappointing for people who really, really love that character in the comics.
If you hated the ending of Avengers Infinity with a “They are just going to retcon this all away” attitude, you likely don’t want to stick around for the end scenes where everything of potential meaning is undone, including Vanessa’s death. (And I will not say much about her treatment in the movie other than to say there have been some very thoughtful pieces about how this movie “fridges” Vanessa in a way that the first movie never would. And if that term is new to you, I’d recommend reading up on it where it is pointed out that far too often in comics, women and their death are used as cheap motivations in moving male characters forward in plots.)
Deadpool 2 gets 5 out of 10 Nerds as I irreverently tap my heart and cuss out loud.