‘Deadpool 2’ is the rare but welcome sequel that not only lives up to expectations, but does so by not completely rehashing the first film.
Let’s be clear, there is plenty of rehashing. ‘Deadpool 2’ opens in a similar style to the first movie. Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) is sitting atop an apartment’s worth of fuel barrels, waiting for them to ignite and possibly kill him – if he can be killed at all. With his voiceover and an extended flashback, we see how he got here and why he’s taking this drastic measure to end it all. Structurally, this is nearly the same introduction as the first ‘Deadpool’ and it works just as well.
After blowing himself up and inevitably growing back together again, Deadpool tries once again to get in good with other mutants at the mutant academy. Considering his track record for playing well with others, this does not go very well. He briefly gets roped into trying to help young Firefist (Julian Dennison from ‘Hunt for the Wilderpeople’), whose name reflects his pyrotechnic abilities, which are even more problematic when combined with his teenage temper. Firefist is by no means the only new mutant character in ‘Deadpool 2’.
In fact, the variety of new characters is one of the best facets of the sequel. From Firefist to Yukio (Shioli Kutsuna), Deadpool’s world is populated with new parts large and small, giving him fresh material for his jokes. The more’s the merrier, and while the cast list might seem bloated, their slow introductions and swift exits make the parade of mutants the most fun part of the movie.
The standout new addition to Deadpool’s crew is Domino (Zazie Beetz). Her mutant power is simple and could have been a difficult sell to audiences, but Beetz’s cocksure performance brings a humanity and affection to the character. She shows us that it’s possible to be an excellent superhero with deserved poise and comic timing who’s not also an egomaniac. This kindhearted woman is an appropriate antidote to Deadpool’s entertaining narcissism.
Beyond the new characters and new plot, ‘Deadpool 2’ latches on emotionally to themes of loss and growth. While the movie still has plenty of jokes poking fun at pop culture, it is has never been clearer that Deadpool’s humor is his coping mechanism for his pain. In the first film, this was physical pain and mourning for his old self. In ‘Deadpool 2’, he’s mourning for his love, and for the future that is now lost. This pain not only makes him crack jokes, but also gives him motivation to fight the bad guys.
From the beginning, Cable (Josh Brolin) is framed as the latest villain, and a time-hopping one to boot. Brolin does his best to growl his way through the role, but is a little stiff on screen in all of that spandex. In the end, his and Deadpool’s character arcs are far more important than the plot, and the film seems to reflect this realization too.
Fans of the first ‘Deadpool’ should have a grand time with ‘Deadpool 2’. Its humor is matched by its humanity, and it’s a great deal of fun.