“So dark. You sure you’re not from the DC universe?”
What if you took out the darkness and made the film a little more family-friendly? Could that work? My initial reaction was that it was a mistake to try. But this film actually has some charm going for it, and I was a bit surprised at how seamless it was. This is essentially Deadpool 2 with the hard-core stuff removed. Gone are the sword fights that used to start the film. And Fred Savage is the key to making the entire idea work.
The film starts with Deadpool in Fred’s bedroom where he has duct-taped him to the bed. He decides to tell him a story and see if his Wonder Years perspective might work for his rather graphic story. We intercut to this exchange throughout the film. I also should have realized how easy it was to change the dialog when your main character is wearing a mask so it’s not like you can tell the words were changed. Give it some credit. The rest of the film tells basically the same story.
Deadpool (Reynolds) begins the film a bit depressed. Some of it has to do with the result of the Logan film, and some of it has to do with a deeply personal loss. He’s a bit self-destructive, but that’s a bit of a pain in the butt when you really can’t off yourself. So he’s led to the X mansion, where he joins the team as a trainee and tries to find some meaning to his unending life. It’s on his first mission that he meets a mutant boy named Russell (Dennison), who is a mutant who can throw fireballs with his fists, and he’s pretty angry at the abusive orphanage where he’s been tortured by the headmaster (Marsan) because he’s a mutant. Deadpool starts to feel a connection to the kid. When he’s taken down and transported to a facility that keeps mutants under control, he decides to launch a rescue mission. To do that, he assembles a team that becomes a bit of an aborted version of X Force, a team we’ll see in reality soon in their own feature film that will be Deadpool’s next screen appearance. Highlights of this team include Vanisher, an invisible mutant who provides some of the team’s best laughs and is voiced by Brad Pitt. Bill Skarsgard is Zeitgeist, who spits acid vomit. Bedlam is played by Terry Crews and can produce energy fields. Shatterstar from Mojo World is played by Lewis Tan. Zazie Beetz stars as the luck-powered Domino. The team also consists of an unpowered guy who showed up at Deadpool’s audition. They mount a rescue on a train transporting Russell and a very nice surprise character, but things turn out badly when the character doesn’t want to play nice. Influenced by the surprise character, he wants to kill the headmaster, and that will turn him into a supervillain, and that’s where Cable, played by Josh Brolin, enters the scene.
Cable is a fan favorite from the X-Universe, and he’s the powerhouse entry who will bring plenty of new fans to the film. His job is to stop Russell from eventually killing his family in the future. That puts him at odds with Deadpool, who has to fight Cable several times in the film.
Josh Brolin is having the time of his life in the Marvel Universe this summer. He’s the big bad in the latest Avengers two-part film, and he gets to eat up scenes here as Cable. The actor and character do bring a lot to the film and give us a character who can go head to head with Deadpool and bring out the best and worst in the character. He’s the one who drives both the story and the evolution of the Deadpool character by the film’s end. That and our surprise character give us much more of a largess to the film than we had in the first, and it makes a huge difference. It keeps those expectations from doing any damage.
Of course, there’s a lot of the first film’s support cast to add continuity to Deadpool’s life. Karan Soli returns as cab driver Dopinder, who now wants very much to be a hero. Leslie Uggams returns as the hilarious Blind Al. T.J. Miller returns as Deadpool’s best friend Weasel. Certainly we had to have the return of Morena Baccarin as Vanessa in what will be an extremely pivotal role in the film. Brianna Hildebrand is Negasonic once again from the X-Men, as well as the return of the CG character of Peter/Colossus. These returning characters form a bit of a family for the displaced and depressed Deadpool. This time they are part of a larger emotional arc for the film and character.
All of the elements that made this a unique film the first time remain here. The character continues to break the fourth wall and talk directly to the audience. These comments make fun of plenty of cultural icons and poke more than a little fun at Disney and Marvel. The references to the Logan film help to tie those characters together. It’s no secret that Reynolds has been campaigning Hugh Jackman hard to pull the Wolverine character out of retirement to make up for the horrible pairing from the Wolverine Origins film. I don’t want to give anything away here, but stick around, and you’ll find that Deadpool 2 finds a way around that in one of the more clever and creative stingers which play out throughout the end credits. Let’s just say that Reynolds is correcting a few wrongs, both cinematic and personal. All of the R-rated violence and language is there as well. There are so many F-bombs dropped that it might be a record in a film that does not feature Samuel Jackson somewhere. All of this will offend and turn off a certain type of audience, but that’s not the kind of people who are coming to these films. If you do find yourself offended by any of this, I have to ask what you were thinking when you put down your 15 bucks to get in. Didn’t you see the first film? Didn’t you read my review? This all brings up a concern fans have with the pending Disney acquisition of Fox and a return of Deadpool and all of his X buddies to the Marvel Studios along with The Fantastic Four. Will family-friendly Disney be willing to take this kind of a risk to their image in the future? I hope so. At one time the studio used the defunct Touchstone to deliver more adult-oriented films to the box office. Hopefully, a spinoff of their Fox properties will inspire the studio to do that again. If not, Deadpool will never work in the PG-13 world of the MCU, and we might have seen the last of this special franchise.
At least for now, Deadpool continues to entertain in an uncertain cinematic future. We still have the likely release of an R-rated X Force film before the merger is completed. Even if Disney is willing to turn Reynolds and his pals loose in the future, it’s going to be hard to continue this run. Even with the additions of plot and heart, the core of the film remains the hard-core humor that is in danger of getting old soon. This “family-friendly version” gives Disney a little more to think about as they take over. For now, I wouldn’t worry about a future that is not yet written. I’d frolic a bit with Deadpool and his cronies and enjoy a little refreshing fun before the summer gets really serious. Will you walk out disappointed? “I’m gonna meet you in the middle and say no.”