For their anniversary, Wade gives Vanessa a Skee-Ball token, in memory of their first date. She, looking forward rather than backward, gives him her IUD: She wants to make a baby. If you can’t guess where this is headed, you’ve probably never seen a movie before. The subsequent title sequence helpfully introduces the film as “Presented by What the Fuck?” and “Directed by One of the Guys Who Killed the Dog in John Wick.”
The movie that unfolds from this premise is at least as funny as the original Deadpool, and better in virtually every other respect: better plot, better villains, a few unexpected narrative swerves, and, yes, at least one genuinely moving sequence. The first Deadpool felt like an experiment in Can we make a raunchy comedy that’s also a superhero movie? Seven hundred and eighty-three million dollars of global box office later, that question has been conclusively answered, so this time out the filmmakers can concentrate on perfecting the form. They come pretty close.
After a variety of customary misbehaviors, Wade finds himself incarcerated in the “ice box,” a wintry mountain prison for mutants. There, his cellmate is a slightly hefty Kiwi teen named Russell (Julian Dennison)—or, as he prefers, “Firefist”—with serious anger-management issues. (Asked why he doesn’t become a crime-fighter, he replies, “Have you ever seen a plus-size superhero? The industry discriminates.”) The mismatched duo are barely ensconced in their new digs before a cyborg from the future—or, as Wade describes him, “a grumpy old fucker with a Winter Soldier arm”—named Cable (Josh Brolin), shows up and tries to murder Russell.
In an effort to protect the boy, Wade puts together his own supergroup, with the help of his bartender pal, Weasel (T.J. Miller). In contrast to the X-Men, Wade announces his super-team will be a “forward-thinking, gender-neutral” X-Force. I won’t bore you with the whole group, as most play limited roles, but it’s worth mentioning Domino (Zazie Beetz), whose odd but highly useful superpower is being exceptionally lucky. (Whether or not this actually constitutes a superpower is, of course, subject to extensive onscreen debate.) X-Men Colossus—a CGI giant voiced by Stefan Kapičić--and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) make reappearances, as does Wade’s former roomie Blind Al (Leslie Uggams). And I won’t disclose the identity of the longtime X-Men nemesis (no, not Magneto) who plays a significant role.
The one-liners are as sharp as Deadpool’s swords, including gags about Interview With the Vampire, Yentl, Fox & Friends, RoboCop, Dave Matthews, The Time Traveler’s Wife, Say Anything, and countless others. There are almost too many in-jokes about superhero movies to keep track of, at the expense of Marvel and DC alike. (Yes, it goes to “Martha.”) But unlike its predecessor, Deadpool 2 is more than just a litany of wisecracks: “Good guys” will be revealed to be not so good, and “bad guys,” not so bad.