Thursday, 17 May 2018

Deadpool 2 (2018)

Deadpool 2 is one of those sequels where you pretty much get what was in the first film but more. If the first Deadpool worked for you, then Deadpool 2 will work as well. The film makers don't make any missteps and deliver exactly what one would expect and want from a Deadpool sequel. I laughed a lot, I enjoyed the story, and grimaced at all the gross bits. Leaving the film I felt very satisfied with what I got. But perhaps in all that established shtick, there was a bit of me that missed being taken a back like I was the first time. I guess you really can't go back to your first time.

Like the first film, the magic here rests on star Ryan Reynolds' endearing performance. His blend of overtly obscene sarcasm mixed with slightly ironic yet earnest sentimentality is so delightful its hard not to smile all the way through. He is Deadpool and Deadpool (the film) is him. The script (or is it often ad libbed?) offers him plenty of fourth wall breaking quips and NSFW bon mots. It's pretty much impossible not to just sit back and enjoy it all (unless you're a pearl-clutcher who gets offended by these sorts of things). Perhaps one day it will be tired but not yet. He's got a winning formula here.

And perhaps that's the one thing that was unnerving for me at Deadpool 2. The idea that some of this genre busting irreverency was starting to feel a bit formulaic. The first Deadpool had me squeamishly gleeful at all the ways the film shocked me. But now I was expecting it and the shock and awe has worn off. I still enjoyed it. I still laughed wholeheartedly. I guess it just didn't feel as rebellious any longer, less edgy. It was almost if I was daring it to blind side me more.

Still, there is much to enjoy about Deadpool 2, even beyond Reynolds' performance. Zazie Beetz is a standout as the lucky Domino and Julian Dennison is also great as the angry Firefist. I think I enjoyed the new additions more than the returning cast, many of whom feel wedged in here (Negasonic Teenage Warhead) just so we can see them again, and another (guess who) is used solely as a plot device for our hero. Brolin is pretty good as Cable but the film doesn't give him much to do because really everyone is there for our star to play off of. Which is exactly what one would expect from a Deadpool sequel.

So yes, Deadpool 2 is exactly everything a Deadpool sequel should be. Perhaps I was hoping it to upend our expectations more. But even though it didn't what it did deliver was solid fun and I have to admit I'm up for another chapter if Reynolds is.

After some further reflection I do have to express some frustration I have with the film. While I was disappointed the first film erased, or perhaps trivialized, the main character's bisexuality, I still managed to give the film a pass. Rightfully or wrongfully I let it go that Deadpool was not present clearly as bisexual. I made the same excuses everyone else made about the film being an unknown property prior to release, and demonstrating the main character was queer was too much of a risk for this sort of a property. Yes, perhaps that was bullshit but I participated in it knowingly. The caveat that justified it for me was that now that the first film was such a runaway success, I expected the sequel to address it. If you were going to have a comic accurate Deadpool he needed to be presented as bisexual. And once the movie was a hit, the sequel could take that "risk."

Well it didn't. Similarly to the first film, any potential references to Deadpool being sexually attracted to all genders (and they are barely potential, nothing clear or explicit) are all jokes which can be clearly read as Deadpool making a joke about sexuality. That way the bros, who may be uncomfortable cheering on a queer superhero, can see it as him being funny in a mildly homophobic way instead of actually being queer himself.

And the film tries to cover it's bases by making Negasonic Teenage Warhead queer instead. As if this has the same power or as if it solves the problem. It just simply does not.

I believe Deadpool 2's lack of recognition of its character's queerness is a serious failing of the film that takes away from the ability to enjoy the film. Representation matters. Producer/star Reynolds knows this and has acknowledged this but yet still chose not  to address it in this film. It is a major disappointment for me and keeps this film from being as good as it should have been. 

Deadpool 2
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Morena Baccarin, Julian Dennison, Zazie Beetz, T.J. Miller, Brianna Hildebrand, Stefan Kapicic
Director: Jason Leitch
Writers: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, Ryan Reynolds

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