Not only did the excitement surrounding the newly released “Deadpool 2” remain alive after it hit theaters on May 18 but also the enthusiasm for the film intensified after release.
The film brought in an impressive $125 million in domestic sales during its opening weekend. With Ryan Reynolds starring as Deadpool, the film’s success is understandable with an effective combination of raunchy humor, “Django Unchained”-style action, and production by 20th Century Fox.
The first “Deadpool” set up the backstory for the protagonist’s alter ego, Wade Wilson. A mercenary with a recent cancer diagnosis, Wilson seeks unconventional treatment that results in a mutant-transformation. However, Ajax, the first film’s villain and the one who delivers the treatment, is sadistic, so along with Wade’s cure and superhero abilities for accelerated healing comes disfigurement. Though Ajax attempts to keep Wade prisoner, he escapes. Operating under the alias Deadpool, Wilson seeks revenge.
The film became popular due to its fast-paced humor, appealing to audiences because it was a superhero film that didn’t take itself too seriously.
“Deadpool 2” delivers the same humor that fans have learned to expect, perhaps going even further with its cynical and comedic take on conventional superhero movies. For instance, the film features a massacre set to Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5” and Deadpool singing “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” from “Frozen” as he dies — again.
The film starts backwards, beginning with an opening scene that will leave most viewers shell-shocked. Deadpool is shown nonchalantly lighting himself on fire, appearing to kill himself. This hook is followed by a voice-over which clarifies that the rest of the film will serve to explain this scene.
When Wade Wilson’s wife is killed at the beginning of the film, he becomes directionless, briefly joining the X-Men as a trainee before he meets Russell. Russell is an angsty teenage mutant who is introduced to the harsh realities of the world, a situation that Deadpool can sympathize with.
Deadpool then assembles an X-Force (that is initially far from a dream team) to save Russell from himself and people who are out to get him.
Although “Deadpool 2” has no concrete villain, multiple competing evil forces remain at play, such as the director of Russell’s orphanage who abuses him, as well as the minions who killed Deadpool’s wife. Deadpool fights against these forces in order to save Russell, albeit with a more irreverent attitude than the average superhero. The action builds to a drastic ending, which leaves the door open for a subsequent film.
What stands out about “Deadpool 2” is the way in which Deadpool’s character develops into a new type of hero. Deadpool is a hero who is cynical, callous, and far from politically correct, but there is also an aloof compassion to his character. He cracks jokes as he dies to lighten the mood for those around him and tries to save Russell out of empathy for his situation. Underneath the absurdity, Deadpool is endearingly human and surprisingly realistic.
Another distinct aspect of the film is that it’s highly referential — making allusions to Marvel films, DC characters, and the vaguely inappropriate relationship between Luke and Leia in “Star Wars.” Even the first scene references “Logan,” one of many X-Men references that permeate the film.
It is also impressive that during its two-hour run-time, “Deadpool 2” makes fun of virtually everything, even breaking the fourth wall to make fun of itself.
Though the film can come across as chomping at the bit to make jokes and includes some occasional “lazy writing” that is also the butt of an onscreen joke, skeptics will be hard-pressed to leave the theater claiming that they were not the least bit entertained. The marriage of outrageous action and humor is a formula that is difficult to resist.
“Deadpool 2” does its job. The film exists to entertain, not challenge viewers’ expectations, and it does so unapologetically and amusingly.