Deadpool returns in this sequel that promises to be more emotional than Wolverine’s outing in Logan last year. Is Deadpool the hero that we need or deserve right now, though? I admit, I was very nervous walking into Deadpool 2. The character is controversial, and for good reason. One moment he is legitimately funny and self-referential, and then the next he seems to spend a lot of time being brutally violent and using his humor in crass and vulgar ways. Would this film just be more of the same? In many ways, yes, but underneath it all is a story that is surprisingly genuine and deep at times.
Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) begins the movie with a bang, jokingly trying to outdo last year’s Logan. When terrible things happen, Deadpool finds himself in a state of despair. For a character that is often played for humor, this is an interesting place to put him. Most of the story is spent on Deadpool learning to overcome grief and find his version of a family. He first tries to find the latter by joining the X-Men, but through a series of circumstances in which he uses his “charm” and guns-blazing approach, Deadpool gets disowned. This leads him to young Russell (Julian Dennison), a mutant seeking revenge on the abusers of his past. Here Deadpool experiences the most growth throughout the story, at first not caring about the boy’s feelings or vendetta and eventually trying to save Russell from killing bad people. Which, considering Deadpool’s own murderous slaughtering of villains, is a fun dynamic to watch play out on screen. Deadpool even goes from taking justice into his own hands and letting justice figure things out for itself…for about thirty seconds. This part of the story is great, but it is nothing that has not been seen before. Just look at several stories involving Batman, Captain America, Daredevil, etc. Aside from throwing in some stylized humor, Deadpool 2 does nothing to separate this story arc from ones that have preceded it.
Along this journey, Deadpool encounters Cable (Josh Brolin), your typical time-traveler bent on killing someone to prevent a catastrophe from happening in the future. Though Brolin does a great job making Cable feel threatening yet emotional (Brolin also pulls this off with Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War), there is not much for him to do in the story aside from attempt to kill someone and act as a straight man for Deadpool to play off of. In fact, this is true for most of the characters.
Deadpool forms his own team of super-humans to stop Cable, but most of his team only acts as a bit part. It works in the context of the scenes that they are in, but they could have benefited from a little more depth. The only member of his “X-Force” who gets some development is Domino (Zazie Beetz). Even then, it is minor. That being said, Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) does actually have some growth throughout the film as he struggles to find a way to help Deadpool without violating his values. This all culminates in a climax where Cable makes a questionable decision that only kind of fits with his established character.
A Message of Brokenness
Despite the film’s simple plot and characters, Deadpool 2 brings emotional weight every now and then. Deadpool trying to stop Russell from turning into the very thing his abusers accused him of being is a compelling point, as well as Deadpool’s attempts to overcome grief. And there is one scene that nearly made me tear up, an emotional response that I was not expecting from this film at all. Granted, it could have just been that scene’s use of “Take on Me” by a-ha, but who knows?
At one point, someone tells a disheartened Deadpool that, “You can’t really live until you’ve died a little.” So often in life, this is how we grow and become stronger. Psalm 66:10 and 12 reads, “For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver…we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance.” There are always going to be things thrown at us to test us and refine us, but by persevering we can be led to greater pursuits. In a sense, Deadpool discovers this himself. If he had not been brought to a place of brokenness, he would never have been able to humble himself enough to forge a family and willingly put his life on the line for others. He certainly stumbles along this path, yet he eventually finds his way to this better version of himself.
This was a great message in the film and one that is not explored as much in other superhero stories as Deadpool’s revenge versus justice arc with Russell. Sadly, it often gets buried in the violence, profanity, and joking that is Deadpool 2.
This is Deadpool
In this golden era of superhero movies, Deadpool 2 does not bring much new to the table. There are laughs to be had and the messages are surprisingly heartfelt and good ones, but this is bogged down by the film’s violence, crude humor, and straightforward and conventional story. At the end of the day, take it or leave it, this is what an accurate portrayal of Deadpool will likely always be.