For the second time in what seems like five minutes, a big budget superhero movie has been released adapted from Marvel Comics starring Josh Brolin as the bad guy – except this time, there’s more blood, gore, dismemberment, jokes, swearing, and talking to the camera. Ryan Reynolds is back in the red spandex in his now-defining role as the cynical, self-aware Merc with a Mouth and he’s even funnier, crazier, and downright ballsier this time around. The story sees Deadpool form a superhero team to help him take on the time-traveling mutant Cable and protect the kid he wants to kill. Here are 10 things that make Deadpool 2 a superior sequel.
10. The whole thing is a middle finger (literally) to Wolverine
In the comics, Deadpool has a long history of mocking and teasing Wolverine, so it only makes sense that Deadpool’s movies would serve to parody Wolverine’s movies, particularly the most recent one that ended tragically with (SPOILER ALERT!) his demise. This movie opens with a novelty item designed from that scene and with Deadpool telling the audience, “Fuck Wolverine.” The whole movie is framed as though it has been made in response to Logan – in response to how the critics fell in love with it and how it made more of a splash at the Oscars than any comic book movie since The Dark Knight. And of course, ‘Pool still won’t let Wolvie forget about X-Men Origins: Wolverine, where the depiction of Deadpool was irredeemably botched (no mask, no red spandex, mouth sewn shut etc.). You’ve probably heard about the scene halfway through the credits where Wade nabs Cable’s time traveling device and starts traveling around history to “fix” things that he sees a problem with. Well, without spoiling anything specific, let’s just say that the funniest gag in the whole scene comes when he travels back to the Weapon X program to “fix” his portrayal in X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
9. It’s more subversive this time
One of the biggest problems with the first Deadpool solo movie was that it was pretty formulaic. It started off as something different, what with all the fourth wall breaking and meta sight gags, but it eventually devolved into exactly the kind of straightforward superhero origin story that they were trying to make fun of. In other words, it was everything you expected it to be. If you saw the trailer for Deadpool, then you’d basically seen the movie. You knew that Wade fell in love with Vanessa, you knew he got a bunch of cancer, you knew he was going in to be experimented on in order to cure it, you knew that he was going to talk to the camera a lot and make a bunch of meta jokes about X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Green Lantern. And then when Deadpool 2 came along, there was a fear that perhaps it would also be what you expect and that, God forbid, the joke was getting old. But those people were all silenced by the movie, which is actually surprisingly subversive. Whatever you think this movie is going to be, it’s not that. It’s full of surprises and plot twists.
8. The linear narrative works better
By jumping back and forth between the origin story and the present day, the first Deadpool movie lagged a little bit and started to get boring as it went on. The options were: a) watch Deadpool shoot guys in the head in slow motion, or b) watch Wade Wilson take medicine and sit in an incubator. And then it became: a) watch Wade Wilson become Deadpool in a montage of badassery, or b) listen to Colossus drone on about what it takes to be a hero while Ajax is getting away. Either way, there was always a boring side of the coin that we were being dragged back to. But Deadpool 2 doesn’t have that. It opens at the end of its first act and then goes back to the start, but on the whole, it is told linearly. And with that, the movie has much more forward momentum than its predecessor. It just keeps bouncing from scene to scene. Deadpool’s kicking ass across the globe and then he’s dealing with personal stuff and then the X-Men get involved and then Cable shows up and then Deadpool forms the X-Force and then they go after Cable – the fun just keeps coming.
7. Deadpool 2 is more progressive
Despite a controversial early scene that has been described as “fridging” (if you’re not familiar with that term, wait until after watching the movie to look it up in order to avoid spoilers), Deadpool 2 is actually a lot more progressive than its predecessor. Negasonic Teenage Warhead and Yukio’s relationship marks a huge milestone in the history of comic book movies, since they are being widely regarded as the first same sex couple to be featured in a big budget superhero movie. The leader of the LGBTQ rights advocacy group GLAAD has even responded to Deadpool 2’s handling of its gay characters and commended the filmmakers for how they depicted it. They didn’t make a big deal out of it or joke about it or use any of the stereotypes – Negasonic and Yukio are just two female characters who happened to be in a relationship. Deadpool at one point tells them they’re “a really cute couple,” and they are, just like any straight couple in any of these movies. It also shouldn’t be forgotten that they’re an interracial couple, too – that in itself breaks yet another taboo. Oh, and the sequel also addresses the sexism of the name X-Men (‘Pool even reminds Negasonic at one point that she’s an X-Person, not an X-Man) and offers X-Force as a gender neutral alternative.
6. The new characters are all great
The premise of Deadpool 2 sees the title character putting together a team of other people with superhuman abilities, and out of this team, we get a bunch of great new characters. Zazie Beetz is perfect for the role of Domino, who has the power of luck (yes, Deadpool acknowledges that that’s not a real superpower), as she steals every scene she’s in. Oh, and Cable, obviously, is a fantastic new addition to the franchise. That goes without saying. The young Hunt for the Wilderpeople actor Julian Dennison is well suited to the role of an angsty teen who has endured torture at an orphanage and wants to take it out on the world with his fire-manipulating abilities. He conveys the anger and the fear and all the other emotions that this character is going through perfectly. Negasonic Teenage Warhead’s girlfriend Yukio, played by Shiori Kutsuna, doesn’t get much of a chance to shine here, but in her few brief appearances, she is bubbly and fun and a delight to watch. So, Deadpool 2 instantly becomes better than the first one, just for having these characters in it and the terrific actors playing them, because they weren’t in the first one.
5. There is actually some emotional weight in this one
It seemed like the first Deadpool movie was more focused on the laughs than anything emotional, but the franchise has matured with Deadpool 2. There’s some serious emotional weight in this one. The main villain is fourteen years old, and with the knowledge of the future and what he goes on to do via the time traveler Cable, we debate whether or not he should be killed and whether or not people can genuinely change throughout the whole movie, which keeps us hooked the entire time. There are even segments of this movie where Deadpool is suicidal and yet can’t die, and so the filmmakers dip into the afterlife and we see what that’s like and those scenes are actually surprisingly emotional. Deadpool 2 could be compared to Star Wars: The Last Jedi in that it’s not at all what you go in expecting because the filmmakers wanted to give you something new and fresh and original, and while that didn’t quite work for The Last Jedi, it definitely works here. The cynical voiceover narration and the meta sight gags are all well and good, but to elevate it to that next level, the filmmakers needed to add in the emotional factor. Thankfully, they’ve done it this time.
4. The action sequences are more exciting
The action sequences in Deadpool 2 being much more visceral and visually interesting is simply a by-product of hiring David Leitch, one of the two directors who helmed John Wick, to make the movie. The original movie’s Tim Miller didn’t come from a background of action movies. In fact, it was his first movie as a director. Before that, he had only worked on the visual effects for movies. This meant that he was great at figuring out how to do the CGI effects on a limited budget, but not necessarily at any of the more practical stuff. Leitch, on the other hand, has directed visually stunning and endlessly thrilling action movies before, and his background is in stunt work, so he knows a thing or two about staging action. There’s a scene that shows up Domino’s powers of luck as she walks down the street and cars are swerving and crashing and a gas station explodes all around her, but she remains unscathed. It’s so intricately staged and brilliant that it solidifies Leitch as the director we’ve been waiting for to do these characters justice on the big screen and solidifies Domino, played by Zazie Beetz as one of the finest additions to the roster.
3. Cable is a better villain than Ajax
Ed Skrein’s villainous role in the first Deadpool movie, Ajax, was a really sucky villain. Since the movie was all about the Merc with a Mouth and setting him up for his own big screen franchise, the writers neglected to provide the villain with more nuances and, well, character. The result of this was a totally forgettable, two dimensional villain. Cable, the antagonist of Deadpool 2 (at least at first) is much more complex. It’s hard to see him as the bad guy, frankly, when he’s simply trying to save his wife and daughter from being burned alive in the future, even if that does mean killing a kid. And that’s another thing – Firefist, one of the other villainous characters, is fourteen years old, so he’s automatically more interesting than Ajax. Cable is less of a straight villain than Ajax. He’s not just pure evil. He’s more of an antihero who isn’t on our protagonist’s side at first – and then when he comes and asks him for help, things get really interesting. Ajax was just annoying. You just hated Ajax from start to finish in the first Deadpool movie, but you never really hate Cable. In fact, you actually empathize with him and want him to come out okay at the end.
2. Deadpool 2 has funnier jokes
The screenwriters behind the original Deadpool movie, Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese, are fine joke writers. The script for the first movie was really funny and there were a lot of smart lines in there. But it always seemed like, since Ryan Reynolds embodied the character so perfectly, all of his best lines were either improvised on the spot or added in by Reynolds during uncredited rewrites. This time around, Reynolds actually had a writing credit alongside Wernick and Reese, so he could work in a ton of great jokes about Canada and the MCU and a running gag about Frozen from the ground up. It’s easier to add jokes and little comedy bits and funny detours into a plot when you’re actually there for the writing of the plot, rather than trying to work them in on set as the cameras are rolling. The jokes are smarter, too, and more meta, like the jokes they make about the DC movies. Wade jokes when he’s trying to come up with excuses to Vanessa that he was fighting another superhero until he found out that his mom was called Martha, too – a dig at the stupid twist at the end of Batman v Superman.
1. The sequel has ballsier plot moves
The original Deadpool movie played it pretty safe with the plot development. As soon as Wade had mutated, he was totally safe for the rest of the movie. Nothing could kill him or even hurt him, so you knew he’d be fine. In this one, he’s given a neck brace that disables his mutant powers, so the stakes are simply higher and the film is more engaging. The hero and the villain team up halfway through the movie – how many superhero movies do that? Without spoiling anything, after the opening killing spree montage full of the kind of stuff you’d expect, the plot takes a very sharp left turn right before the Skyfall-inspired opening credits that leaves your jaw agape and the titles in the credits accurately predict your response. And let’s just say that the formation of the X-Force to help Deadpool with his mission and “sustain a franchise for ten to twelve years” isn’t going where you think it is either. It’s so refreshing to see a superhero movie in a world where all superhero movie plots play it safe and are dictated by business and you know who’s safe because you know which spinoffs and sequels are coming up that actually surprises you at the cost of screwing up future franchise plans.