I recall precisely when I realized that Ryan Reynolds was the perfect actor to play Deadpool. It was in 2004. Me and some buddies were watching an awful, awful movie by the name of Blade: Trinity. Yes, the turd of a movie that killed a fantastic franchise. That one. There is a scene in which the character being played by Reynolds is being interrogated by vampires. One of whom is an ex girlfriend. (Hey, I did say it was turd didn’t I?). He is being beat to a pulp and yet, he’s being a wise ass. Cracking one liners between being punched by HHH (yes, the wrestler. He’s in it too). I remember laughing, turning to a fellow comic book nerd and saying “That dude would be perfect as Deadpool”. Our eyes shone with excitement, geeky feelings were exchanged, punctuated with gratuitous usage of the word “Dude!”…then a vampire Pomeranian showed up and ruined the moment. Christ, Blade: Trinity was an abomination.
There are some actors that were just born for certain roles. Christopher Reeves as Superman, Ciaran Hinds as Caesar, Arnold as the Terminator and as for Ryan Reynolds, he was always Deadpool walking around in a normal actor’s skin. Everything about him fits the character of Wade Wilson/Deadpool like a glove. The comic timing, the voice, the body type, everything.
Fair warning, I’m going to say “Ryan Reynolds!” a lot. Why? Because I think it is important to reiterate just how much of Deadpool’s success hinges on him. No one else could have done the character justice. Also, this is a project that took a him over a decade of dogged determination. Rhett Reese (one of the primary screen writers) has described Reynolds as “the keeper of the Deadpool flame for many years” stating that “if we ever do something that is off the Deadpool path, or if it doesn’t feel like Deadpool, he catches it.” That right there is the sign of fellow comic book nerd. But more importantly, the man is goddamn gorgeous. Thats why. Ryan Reynolds!
I should clarify here that I’m not the biggest Deadpool fan. I don’t “dislike” him, but I do find his popularity a little puzzling given the competition. Plus, its hard for me to appreciate the whole “break the fourth wall” routine. Breaking the Fourth wall also breaks my suspension of disbelief. I see the appeal but its not for me. That said, it does work surprisingly well in the movie format. But I get ahead of myself.
Deadpool 2 is more than the continuation of a story. It is the declaration of a franchise. One which, if treated right, will age beyond anything else that exists in the “comic book” genre. Unlike everything else out there, the “hero” here is always masked. Even when he is unmasked, Wilson Wade’s face is a Freddie Kruegeresque nightmare of scars. And as for Colossus, the only other character of note, he exists purely as a CGI artifact. An artificially rendered thing of “organic steel”. It is telling that we have never Pete’s real face (Colossus is the alter ego of Piotr “Peter” Nikolayevich Rasputin). No one cares. As far as the studio is concerned, the actors “playing” these two characters can age as much as they want. So long as Reynolds is willing to voice Wilson Wade, its all good. Which is just as well because apart from Deadpool, every single character here exists as a fancy plot device. More than perhaps any other property within the genre, this franchise will live and die by the strength of its writing. Time will tell how this pans out but I’m going to be cautiously optimistic about this one. Ryan Reynolds!
Thematically, the sequel is shift from being a love story to a story about family, something the movie alludes to within the first few minutes. This is something both movies do not get enough credit for. For all the irreverent, f-bombing craziness, the first film was really a dysfunctional love story. Wilson’s actions, even his insanity is driven by his love for his lady love. One of the key lines from the original, i.e, “Your crazy matches my crazy.” could just as well be from an all time great romcom.
The same thematic coherence is at work here. Deadpool 2 is about family. Rather, about finding one. It is also a hard core “comic book” plot. Complete with time traveling mutants. I wont get into the story too much lest I spoil it for the three people who haven’t seen it yet, but suffice to say that the story makes some powerful statements of how social bonds (or lack thereof) can shape human morality. The beauty of it? It works. They made it work in a bloody comic book movie. I mean that literally. Theres lots of blood here. Yay! Also, Ryan Reynolds!
Thematic triumphs aside, this is more of the same. Comic book characters doing comic book things with comic book plots. Just like the first movie, theres lots of explosions, expletives, and espresso fueled dialogs. The sequel does introduce some new characters, the most notable one being Cable, portrayed convincingly by Josh Brolin. The idea of the guy playing Thanos now playing Cable does warm one’s comic book cockles. Brolin’s performance notwithstanding, I do have a few (nerdy) complaints. The movie never really establishes if Cable has any ties to the X-men. In the comics, Cable is actually Scott Summers’ (aka Cyclops) son. The same problem exists with one of the villains, ie, Juggernaut, whose origins (and relationship to Professor X) are glossed over. Lastly, the portrayal of Domino just doesn’t work. Why the hell does she have an afro?!?
Not all of my complaints are nerdy nitpicking though. Some of the plot details are rushed and a couple of them actually contradict each other. This strikes me as lazy writing. The recipe is the same, laughs, irreverence, explosions, entertaining action sequences and so forth, but portions of it taste decidedly stale. In many ways, this is a “by the numbers” script, something that prioritizes checking off all the boxes. Not a bad thing in itself but retreading old ground can only be so much fun. On the other hand, Ryan Reynolds!
Still, as a product of entertainment catering to a certain audience, it succeeds. Its a great time to be a comic book nerd. If someone had told me a decade ago that there would be enough celluloid offerings with protagonists wearing spandex and saving the world to merit its own genre, I’d have laughed. And then sighed with longing. But even as critics lament how the space is now saturated (blasphemy btw) there was still a hole here. Good guys are covered, thats easy. Bad guys? Ditto. Anti heroes are a little trickier but Wolverine and Riddick cornered that market ages ago. But a fourth wall breaking character that pokes fun at all the tropes of the genre while engaging in them? Thats unique. And if theres one thing Deadpool excels at, its looking for holes that need filling. With lead…usually. Ryan Reynolds!
As with the first film, the sequel has an amazing soundtrack. The movie also features the best use of dubstep I’ve ever seen in any movie. The sound overall, is very well done. The audio effects of all the high tech weaponry, super powers and so forth, do their part to put the viewer in the middle of the action. Visual effects are bit of a mixed bag though. The way both Juggernaut and Colossus are rendered failed to impress. On the other hand, the action sequences that were devoid of CGI characters were amazing. Cable certainly ups the ante here with his futuristic arsenal. Furthermore, Ryan Reynolds!
But the best was most definitely saved for last. Deadpool 2 has the best after credits sequence in the history of cinema. Hell, I’d watch the entire movie just to see that again. “Maximum effort” indeed.
Throughout human history, every age has had its defining myths. Comics serve as the mythology of our times. And it is important to not take them too seriously. Comics are ridiculous. They are cool, they are fun and many graphic novels belong right up there with the best of literary fiction. But they can also be absolutely absurd. The same way parachuting out of a perfectly good airplane is, on the surface, absurd. However, indulging in the absurd can be more than just fun. It can also be liberating. And that is one box Deadpool ticks off with irreverent flair. Yes, its a great time to be a comic book nerd.
FINAL SCORE 7.9/10