I'll Take Fifty On the Dude in the Weird Red Suit
I don't think it should come as a surprise that I really like the first Deadpool film. As should be obvious from the content of this site, I watch a lot of superhero films (and TV, and read comics and so on). While I'll be the first to admit (here, on the site) that I'm a DC fan and don't read nearly as many Marvel comics as the ones from DC, I still like many of their characters, Deadpool included. He's always struck me as a character designed specifically to poke a finger in the eye of all the staid comics conventions, someone created solely so the author can be like "I've written all these comics and I just don't want to give a crap anymore so here's a guy that can break the fourth wall and comment on the writing and essentially let me do whatever I want."
Spin-off character, Gwenpool, also has that ability, and there's a reason people like them both. Hell, that kind of character is popular enough that every comic series ends up with their own version of it -- all it takes is a bit of crazy and any character can become a fourth wall-breaker. Joker and Harley Quinn have both been allowed to do it on multiple occasions despite the fact that they are characters that live within the world of comics (instead of sitting oddly above it, like Deadpool). Audiences, of course, eat it up because fourth wall breaking asides always feel like pokes in the eye of convention, and, by and large, comics often end up feeling quite conventional. What we all need, once in a while, is a character that can come along and destroy all the norms.
That's what I really liked about the first Deadpool film. As powered by series star Ryan Reynolds (and it is fair to call it a series since he played the "Merc with a Mouth" in not just two Deadpool films so far but also the wretchedly awful X-Men Origins: Wolverine), Deadpool works as a kind of finger in the eye of the main X-MenLaunched in 1963 and written by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the X-Men featured heroes distinctly different from those featured in the pages of DC Comics. Mutants who didn't ask for their powers (and very often didn't want them), these heroes, who constantly fought against humans who didn't want "muties" around, served as metaphors for oppression and racism. Their powerful stories would form this group into one of the most recognizable superhero teams in comics (and a successful series of movies as well). series. The character comments on the world of the movie (and the lack of X-Men around even at their mansion), the various actors that have played characters in the movies, and how everything just seems so silly when viewed from the outside. Deadpool breaks the fourth wall in his movies, making comments about writing and structure that you don't get to see very often (usually shows and movies have to be explicitly about the "showbiz process" to be able to get away with this much fourth-wall breaking).
The first Deadpool film was rapid-fire with these kinds of moments, deriving humor not only from Ryan Reynolds rapid-fire patter but also from breaking all the conventions of the Fox X-Men series. Of course, Fox wasn't sure the first movie would make any money, so the film could fly under the radar a bit, crack jokes that a larger, more respected film series (you know, the Marvel Cinematic UniverseWhen it first began in 2008 with a little film called Iron Man no one suspected the empire that would follow. Superhero movies in the past, especially those not featuring either Batman or Superman, were usually terrible. And yet, Iron Man would lead to a long series of successful films, launching the most successful cinema brand in history: the Marvel Cinematic Universe.) would never attempt. That's Deadpool's greatest power, and the gift his first movie gave us.
So yeah, Deadpool was a great movie for what it was: a low-budget (well, for superhero movies), scrappy little antidote to the big-budget smash-fests that dominate the box-office. It's no surprise, then, that the movie made huge bank (more than Fox could have ever expected) -- it's the kind of movie people didn't even realize they wanted. Sitting in the theater opening weekend, I heard people have the same kind of reactions to the humor and language in Deadpool that they did when South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut got to the "Uncle Fucker" moment in the movie. "Wait? Are you serious? They were allowed to put this in a movie?"
Great as it was, though, Deadpool wasn't perfect. The main villain really didn't have much of a personality which certainly didn't help the story. The plot is basically a revenge flick between Mr. Deadpool and Francis, the evil guy that tortured Deadpool and gave our hero his powers. That whole story would have been way more interesting if Francis hadn't essentially been played, by Ed Skein, as a sentient lump of wall compound. I haven't seen Skein in a lot of stuff, but he's basically always "low-budget star we hired because we couldn't afford anyone that could act". The movie could have done with a better villain, and some tightening around the edges, to really elevate it.
That's where Deadpool 2 should have come in and said "hey, all those things that didn't work in the first movie? Yeah, we fixed them." And yet, there's still a lot that doesn't quite work in DP2. The kinda-sorta villain this time around is Cable (he's given a fuzzy backstory for most of the film so you're never sure what his motivations are and if he's the villain or not). I don't know how interesting Cable is in the original comics, but here, as played by Josh Brolin, he's not very interesting. It's a very gruff, stoic, one-note performance. When everyone else in the movie is having fun at the dumb absurdity of the film, Brolin just seems bored by it.
And then there's the plot, which meanders from one idea to another and never really sits still long enough to just focus and tell a damn story. Either the film needed to be more focused or it just needed to really "Deadpool" it and go wildly out there and break every cinematic convention. Since this was a Fox production that had to make money, of course they were going to go with a more conventional plotline (especially since Deadpool is now a tentpole character after the success of the first film). Instead of deep insanity (as you would expect from the Deadpool of the comics), we get a drawn out, kind of trite movie about family and what it means to be a hero. The story, really, is just the weakest part of the movie.
What still works, though, is the humor. This is a superhero comedy much more so than it is an action film, so the humor has to be there for the movie to be at all successful. And, thankfully, the humor is there -- there are so many great jokes, funny moments, and weird situations that you couldn't get in any other kind of movie. It's in its humorous moments that you remember you're truly watching a Deadpool movie. While the "Basic Instinct" scene half-way in (you'll know it when you see it) will probably be what everyone leaves the film remembering, I liked the smaller moments, like where Colossus says "you always make it so hard" and DP just looks at the screen as if to say "check out that dick joke, folks." In the smaller, non-action moments, the film truly shines, running full speed at a joke-a-second. That's the movie the film needs to be.
So yes, Deadpool 2 is exactly what you would expect as a sequel to the first, super successful movie. If all you want is more of what you got in the first film, this sequel is for you. If you were hoping for something weirder, more subversive (a film to live up to all the weird social media posts, Bob Ross video, and non-conventional commercials), this movie will probably leave you just a little disappointed. It's very much a Fox Deadpool film -- a sequel for fans of the first movie but not the riskier, more interesting sequel fans of the comic character might have wanted.