Superhero roles in Hollywood are coveted. Most often the character will have a built-in audience, and comic book movies routinely debut at number one at the box office. Some actors are fortunate enough to get more than one opportunity to don a pair of tights and save the world. Chris Evans is one example, having been both Johnny Blaze of the Fantastic Four and the iconic Captain America. Similarly, Ryan Reynolds (The Hitman’s Bodyguard) got two bites of the apple, having starred in both the regrettable Green Lantern and the wickedly funny Deadpool. In Deadpool 2 Reynolds returns as the quick-witted facially challenged Wade Wilson, to great effect.
We find Wade living happily, still in a relationship with his beloved Vanessa (Morena Baccarin, Gotham). Can I take a moment to applaud Vanessa as a great superhero girlfriend? I mean Pepper Potts (Iron Man’s girlfriend) is cool and all, but who else is there? Vanessa’s love has never faltered, despite her man resembling Freddy Krueger on a good day. Recall Wade’s backstory from the first movie: he was diagnosed with Cancer, a nefarious group offered a cure that obliterated the cancer and gave him mutant powers of immortality and invincibility, but he was terribly disfigured in the process. The couple have endured a lot and are excited about starting the next chapter of their lives. That is, until tragedy strikes and sets Wade/Deadpool on a deadly course of revenge.
Deadpool relies on the counsel and encouragement of his roommate Blind Al (Leslie Uggams, Empire) and pal Weasel (T.J. Miller, Office Christmas Party), as he channels his rage and pain into hunting down his enemies. While Deadpool pursues one foe, a new one emerges in Cable (James Brolin, Avengers: Infinity War), a time-traveling villain from the future. Recall from the first movie that the X-Men made a play to recruit Deadpool into their ranks, with unsuccessful results. That continues in the sequel, with Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead encouraging Deadpool to follow a greater calling, defending the innocent. To that end, Wade intervenes after seeing the breaking news story of Firefist, a mutant teenager whose hands hurl flames. Attempting to corral and mentor the wayward youth, Deadpool must contend with Cable, who has come to eliminate the boy before he grows into the monster he’s destined to be.
Forced to rely on others for the first time, Deadpool’s rag-tag band of misfit heroes includes Domino (Zazie Beetz, Atlanta), a badass whose superpower is simply luck. We see a new surrogate family taking shape for Deadpool, and the movie’s irreverent tone is balanced with intermittent humor and warmth, although this allows the film to get away with questionable plot points at times. Deadpool is likeable because he is relatable and funny as hell. Reynolds has never been on anyone’s Best Actor list, but the guy stays in his lane. He’s funny and charming and can still carry a movie despite the inability to rely on that handsome face.
The Deadpool franchise is hilariously self-aware, breaking the fourth wall and eschewing convention by dismantling the superhero mystique. This self-deprecation is what endears the character to audiences and it’s a recipe for success for Marvel Studios.