Ryan Reynolds was born to play Deadpool. His naturally twisted personality and dark sense of humor are the living embodiment of the antihero writers Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza created and made famous in the early ’90s. Even in the mid X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) it was clear that Reynolds had the chops to bring the Merc With a Mouth to life, even though the poorly executed script inexplicably called for him to have said mouth sewn shut. That movie misstep aside, the actor worked diligently for years to finally bring the foul-mouthed Deadpool that fans deserved to the big screen; re-imagining, remixing and resurrecting the character for the 2016 blockbuster, Deadpool.
To say the film was a success would be an understatement. Raking up $363 million at the domestic box office and an additional $420 million abroad, Deadpool stands as the highest-grossing R-rated movie of all time with its total haul of $783 million. Not bad for a movie whose lead has a face that looks like an avocado had sex with an older, more disgusting avocado. But after a showing like that, there was only one thing left to do—make some goddamn guacamole.
After seeing the finished product, I have no doubt that 'Deadpool 2' will dominate the box office, but it’s a question of whether it should.
The cash grab that is Deadpool 2 was a given. But with several hiccups along the way—original director Tim Miller abruptly exited the project in 2016, old allegations of sexual assault by cast member T.J. Miller surfaced and the tragic on-set death of stuntwoman Joi “SJ” Harris in 2017—it was looking like Reynolds and Co. would need a bit more luck (or Domino’s mutant powers of good fortune) to secure the bag once more. After seeing the finished product, I have no doubt that DP2 will dominate the box office but it’s a question of whether it should.
Don’t get me wrong; the movie is chock full of literal laugh-out-loud moments and self-deprecating jabs at the superhero genre that recaptures the magic of the first. Zazie Beetz also delivers a star-making performance as Domino that balances out the masculinity, mayhem, and madness bombarding the screen, but when it comes down to an actual cohesive and interesting plot, DP2 is sorely lacking in that area. Some might say that’s par for the course with comic book movies, but after genre-redefining projects like Logan and Black Panther, which featured fully-formed characters and robust storylines, that argument is as weak as Deadpool’s baby hand.
DP2 wants to be a (dysfunctional) family film, but it’s hard to achieve that goal when most of the characters—save for Deadpool, Domino, and Cable, who just barely makes the cut TBH—are so disposable. It’s like the scriptwriters spent more time developing punchlines than they did storylines. That goes for new characters as much as it does returning faves like Colossus, Dopinder, and Blind Al. Most of the cast is just there to orbit around Reynolds as he showcases his affinity for delivering one-liners and sexual innuendo for sport. Truthfully, that sensibility was a driving force behind the first film’s appeal, but it still had a solid story arc as its foundation.
Unfortunately, DP2 doesn’t have that luxury. Essentially the film is just 2012’s Looper with a laugh track, where a grumpy old guy from the future goes back in time to stop a kid from growing up to be a super-powered terror. The hero in both films makes a selfless act in the final sequence, but the problem is that when Joseph Gordon-Levitt does it truly is a worthy sacrifice. When Josh Brolin’s Cable does it, it creates a flawed plotline that’s just there to explain why he has to stay in the present timeline for the upcoming X-Force spin-off and possible next Deadpool sequel. It’s a sacrifice for anticlimactic sacrifice's sake, as opposed to something that actually makes sense.
Spoiler Alert: We already saw Deadpool’s ability to resurrect himself get restored by simply removing the mutant inhibitor collar earlier in the movie. So it makes no sense why Cable would use his only way of getting back home to his family just to save DP when, you know, he could just remove that collar again. I’m just saying.
Despite the time portal-sized plot holes that Reynolds spackles together with non-stop jokes, this is still an enjoyable film.
That’s no knock on Brolin, who’s coming hot off the heels of his multilayered performance as Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War and does a decent job as Cable. He’s the brooding straight man to Reynolds’ zany antihero, which is fine, but the time-traveling mutant’s story arc is thin and, much like the various cameos (Was that Brad Pitt?), gets quickly discarded in favor of tying up loose ends and setting things up for the next movie. As Deadpool said himself, “That’s just lazy writing.”
But here’s the thing, despite the time-portal-sized plot holes that Reynolds spackles together with non-stop jokes, this is still an enjoyable film. The script might be a hack job from a critical standpoint, but it does exactly what it’s supposed to do. In the comics, Deadpool was a foul-mouthed, fourth-wall-breaking, mind-in-the-gutter perv and that’s exactly who we get here. It’s mindless entertainment at its finest, and sometimes that’s exactly what you want out of your summer blockbuster. If you came expecting a gang of Oscar-worthy performances, Tully is showing two theaters down the hall. But if you just need a good laugh to get you through your day, then DP2 is your best bet—even if it technically doesn't nail the superhero landing.