Wade Wilson burst onto our screens in 2016 quite literally sticking his middle finger up at anyone and anything who dared look in his direction. In a world of mundane Disney controlled superhero movies Deadpool gave the genre a spark of life, willing to take down itself, Marvel, D.C. and anyone else it had in its sights.
Where the first film subverted expectations the shoe is now firmly on the other foot. Anticipation is much higher for Deadpool 2 and the pressure is on to deliver a similar box office success. The marketing campaign began back in April 2017 and has continued to the point of saturation ever since, ultimately becoming a fitting analogy for the film itself.
Deadpool 2 sees the Merc with a Mouth facing up to his own personal issues as he struggles to overcome a tragic event. Minor X-Men member Colossus (the voice of Stefan Kapicic) arrives to take him under his wing but it isn’t long before Deadpool is back in hot water after failing to save a young mutant boy, Russell (Julian Dennison – The Hunt For The Wilderpeople) attempting to escape his abusive orphanage.
Meanwhile, Cable (Josh Brolin) arrives from the future armed with a big gun and a charred teddy bear (which belonged to his dead daughter) determined to hunt down and terminate Russell. Deadpool takes it upon himself to protect the kid, putting together his own team of superheroes to fend off Cable and prevent Russell from turning into a black-hearted killing machine.
Most fans of the first film will revel in the humour which remains in exactly the same gear. The film opens poking fun at Wolverine as a perfect example, continuing the playful jibing seen between Hugh Jackman and Ryan Reynolds throughout the promotion leading up to release.
The problem is the surprise element that made the first film so enjoyable is no longer there. Deadpool caught everyone off guard and allowed the audience to enjoy the cheeky, raunchy humour Marvel and D.C. usually do everything possible to avoid. What director David Leitch and the scriptwriters have done is simply add more of the same ingredients for the second outing with a stream of meta-pop culture references insistently winking at the camera.
It also threatens to become a parody of itself through a series of emotional sequences between Wade and his girlfriend Vanessa (Morena Baccarin). Deadpool specialises in laughing at hollow, saccharine emotion – one look at Celine Dion’s Ashes video says it all – and yet does exactly the same itself in the sequel. You’re half expecting the needle to scratch off the record and for Wade to turn towards the camera to laugh off it, but it is deadly serious about pleading for our sympathy.
Ryan Reynolds still charms his way through the story and is clearly having a whale of a time in the role. Deadpool 2 is not a bad film but any stretch of the imagination. Rather, it feels like a lazy retread and is all the less enjoyable for it. Now the franchise is established, money seems to be talking much louder than the mothermouth superhero himself.