When the original Deadpool arrived in theaters, it was a breath of fresh air. Comics fans may have already been familiar with the smart-assed “merc with a mouth,” but in the context of modern superhero movies, both the character and the self-referential style of the 2016 film were a subversive delight. Deadpool’s creators clearly knew how silly superhero movies had become, recognized that audiences also knew it, and mixed it all up into an R-rated romp that brought in more than $780 million worldwide, while costing just a fraction of the price tag on an average DC or Marvel tentpole.
But studios and filmmakers learned the lessons of Deadpool quickly, with James Mangold’s Logan embracing the visceral intensity an R-rating can allow, and Marvel practically lampooning itself with Taika Waititi’s hilarious Thor: Ragnarok. We now live in a post-Deadpool world, and with the element of surprise no longer part of its arsenal, the inevitable Deadpool 2 has to go about the more traditional business of crafting a sequel that delivers on fan expectations, while also giving them just enough of a fresh twist that the entire thing doesn’t feel completely cynical. The result isn’t as novel as the original, or as effortlessly kinetic, but it is nevertheless a joke-packed action film that continues to deliver on the character’s potential, while opening up the door to an even bigger series of sarcastic superhero adventures.