The rule of sequels dictates that everything is to be amplified. Bigger explosions. Manic fight sequences. A higher body count. There’s a number “2” in the title after all, so audiences are bound to expect twice as much of whatever was showcased in the original. That’s just common sense. And in Deadpool 2, the Merc with a Mouth is back doing what he does best: providing unadulterated superhero entertainment that delivers on the promise of more.
When Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) crosses paths with a young mutant named Russell (Julian Dennison), he must do whatever it takes to protect the confused but powerful kid from Cable (Josh Brolin in his second Marvel role this year), a time travelling mercenary with sick weapons and a bionic arm not unlike the Winter Soldier’s. Together with the X-Men’s Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), and a new crew of unlikely superheroes called the X-Force (yes, it’s a bit derivative—they know), Deadpool must intercept Cable’s efforts before Russell’s chubby ass is obliterated from existence.
Directors with a streak for box-office blockbusters are aware of the expectations that come with sequels. Just ask James Cameron, whose Terminator 2: Judgment Day was more electric than the first, turning the Governator into a quotable household name and giving Linda Hamilton a chance to get all ripped (so sexy). He even expounded on Ridley Scott’s Alien lore with Aliens, injecting the franchise with steroids and moving it lightyears away from the creepy, unsettling nature of Scott’s nuanced thriller. Let’s just say his film was less Xenomorph lurking in the shadows and more guns, more shooting, more fun.
David Leitch, who first won acclaim for the Keanu-as-puppy-loving-hitman revenge flick John Wick and went on to seal his superstar status with Deadpool, is aware of the sequel conventions needed to elevate Deadpool 2 into an outing that surpasses its fandom’s demands. He borrows a lot from Cameron, the plot of Deadpool 2 mirroring that of Judgment Day—the storyline of an assassin from the future out to kill a troubled teen is just too in-your-face to ignore. There’s even a high-octane highway chase scene that older moviegoers—who know who Edward Furlong is—will digest as a direct reference. It’s a sequel—of course there’s going to be adrenaline-fueled action involving moving vehicles.
The genius behind Leitch’s setup is that Deadpool is a character that’s hyper-aware, breaking the fourth wall and addressing his viewers when given the chance, a trait that was triumphantly exploited in the first movie and is repeated in this one to hilarious effect. Through a brash humor that preys on pop culture, Wade Wilson’s meta-dialogue with people in the theater makes them feel as if they’re actually part of bringing the jokes to life. Why fix something that isn’t broken in the first place? Reynolds has slipped so comfortably into the red suit that he has become synonymous with the franchise—a fact that’s made fun of on more than one occasion. Aside from Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead, DP (a nickname used only by his closest allies) is allowed to verbally spar with Domino (the beautiful Zazie Beetz), an ultra-lucky femme fatale who’s described as being the “black Black Widow” and is the perfect foil to Deadpool’s antics.
When the end credits come rolling, some might argue that the elements, choices, and direction for the movie are quite predictable. Higher stakes: check. Hot badass babe: check. Emotional catharsis to humanize the protagonist: check. All the sequel tropes come into play, always on cue and never missing their beat. But what Deadpool 2 understands is that, sometimes when it comes to blockbusters, there’s nothing wrong with delivering what was promised from the onset.