Deadpool 2: Super self-aware gag-fest is the Marvel movie we need right now

By Jim Slotek

Rating: A-minus

I hadn’t thought about the timing of the release of Deadpool 2, until I read some I-think-unironic tweets about the timing being bad. This is not the time for levity apparently, given Marvel fans’ state of mourning over the recent loss of some heroes.

(You figure out which ones. Social media has spoiler hit-squads).

Which had me thinking, there couldn’t be a better time to remind people that these are just stories, nay, mock them for it. You’ll get over it, just like you got over Dumbledore. Besides, people keep getting killed in fanboy movies and brought back to life in the next one (cough – Spock! Superman! – cough).

And what better character to deliver that message than one who can’t be killed, despite his worst efforts?

Pop culture gag reference #117. Guess what iconic scene Deadpool is taking p--- out of here.

Pop culture gag reference #117. Guess what iconic scene Deadpool is taking p--- out of here.

Directed by David Leitch (Atomic Blonde), it’s more meta than the first (the title character, played by Ryan Reynolds, signs his name “Ryan Reynolds,” compares the previous movie’s box office with The Passion of the Christ and makes more than one gag that references the DC Universe). But Deadpool 2 is like the superhero version of Airplane! in the frequency of its gags (some of them groaners). With the winky fourth-wall-breaking of a Bob Hope movie, only with explosions and severed limbs.

To be clear, this is what I like about it (and what some critics hate). 

Those moments when it seems to take its plot seriously are the only drag on its sacred mission to thumb its nose at the Marvel Universe. Fortunately, those are only occasional. Take away the gags, and Deadpool 2 has about a half-hour of plot, a palate cleanser if you will, like the ginger in sushi.

As Deadpool 2 opens, our hero Wade Wilson (Reynolds) is making his most earnest attempt yet at killing himself, atop an about-to-detonate pile of high explosives. Separated into pieces, he is, alas, still extant (the movie does get to play quite humorously with the lizard-tail aspects of Wade’s immortality). What follows is a flashback that shows the loss that brought him to this renewed state of wisecrack-filled hopelessness.

This failed suicide is where he renews his frenemy relationship with the B-team of the X-men - Colossus (a CGI-augmented Stefan Kapičić) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), the latter of whom has convinced her giggling fellow mutant/girlfriend Yukio (Shioli Kutsuna), who seems straight out of a J-pop group, to join the team as well. 

(Other returnees from the first film include T.J. Miller as the barkeep-sidekick Weasel, Leslie Uggams as Blind Al and Karan Soni as the wanna-hero cabbie Dopinder.)

On his first mission as a trainee, Deadpool meets Firefist (Julian Dennison), a super-kid on a rampage after years of sexual abuse at an orphanage (and holding a grudge because body-shaming superhero groups won’t take a plus-sized kid). Enter Cable (Josh Brolin), a supersoldier from the future bent on killing the kid (Looper? Terminator? Deadpool variously calls him “John Connor” and “Thanos,” which is, of course, Brolin’s role in that other Marvel movie at another studio).

Brolin has the unenviable task of being the most serious character in a movie that takes nothing seriously – least of all death. There is death in this movie. And then there’s not. Repeatedly. Because it’s in the script. 

En route, Deadpool takes a stab at enlisting his own super-hero group called X-Force, the most interesting of which is Domino (Zazie Beetz), whose superpower is that she’s really, really lucky.

To recap: The important takes from Deadpool are that we shouldn’t take this sophomoric form so seriously, and Do You Want To Build A Snowman from Frozen is almost note for note the same song as Papa Can You Hear Me from Yentl.

That, and sometimes the closing credits ARE worth sitting through (the opening credits are pretty damn funny as well).

Deadpool 2. Directed by David Leitch. Starring Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Zazie Beetz.