I could write a book about Deadpool 2.
No, that is not hyperbole. This movie isn’t just a lightweight, wacky superhero comedy; it is a dense work of genre deconstruction, and it would take me days of sifting through juvenile dick and fart jokes to uncover its hidden subtleties. The screenplay’s humor cuts to the bone with the same surgical precision as the best of Mel Brooks’ parodies—it’s that damn good. I don’t think I love it quite as much as some other viewers, but I’m absolutely fascinated by it, to the extent that I’m compelled to pick it apart and see what makes it tick. Here’s what I’ve observed so far:
It’s easy to assume that the film isn’t taking itself very seriously, but that’s not actually the case. The time travel plot, Cable’s motivations, and the tragic circumstances driving young Firefist’s character arc are played totally straight; it’s only our protagonist that refuses to acknowledge the gravity of the narrative unfolding around him, because he exists in a bizarre pseudo-metatextual space. It may seem like a minor distinction, but it’s what allows the writers to be so irreverent without diminishing the overall stakes.
The gag involving X-Force is probably the single most audacious bit of self-criticism I’ve ever encountered in a mainstream blockbuster. When Wade outright admits that his newly assembled team needs to “carry a franchise for the next ten to twelve years,” he’s clearly taking aim at the shared universe model pioneered by Marvel and (more importantly) shamelessly stolen by Warner Bros, which led to the gratuitous inclusion of Wonder Woman—as well as what amounts to teaser footage for the studio’s entire slate of upcoming releases—in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The fact that this ragtag group of badasses was marketed to Hell and back only to be quickly and brutally killed off before managing to accomplish anything substantial speaks volumes.
Considering the numerous failures of the DCEU, I’ve honestly come to admire Fox for basically deciding to discard consistent continuity in favor of crafting better standalone stories (albeit with varying levels of success, to put it charitably). That being said, the post-credits sequence brilliantly justifies the X-Men series’ notoriously convoluted canon: if Deadpool’s been abusing Cable’s time-jumping technology in order to alter history, then it’s no wonder that the SirPatStew era is impossible to reconcile with the McAvoy-led prequels!
[Originally written May 19, 2018.]