If you’re not a Deadpool fan, the entire phenomenon probably seems obnoxious. Deadpool’s a self-aware superhero who talks like an overcaffeinated vlogger from 2009—and get this! He says the F-word! Sure, whatever.
But with David Leitch in the director’s chair for Deadpool 2, it’s much easier to see the character’s appeal. Just as he did with Atomic Blonde, Leitch shoots Deadpool 2 with kinetic whimsy, choreographing symphonies of R-rated gore with such obvious glee that the feeling is contagious. His scenes move, visually, in a way that makes the plot almost irrelevant.
The pace of Deadpool 2’s jokes and the volume of its self-aware references is exhausting at first, but eventually it lulls you into a kind of passive acceptance. (What stage of post-modernism is that again?) You begin to filter-feed for nuggets of entertainment and the occasional solid lines while letting the rest just wash over you like the tides (and the script, from Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, and star Ryan Reynolds, does contain a few quality zingers). A joke doesn’t work? Eh, who cares, on to the next.
In contrast to Marvel’s ultra-serious approach—which does have humor, but only as a way to lubricate us for exposition—there’s a refreshing casualness to Deadpool 2, where the universe never hangs in the balance. It seems to realize that bigger stakes don’t automatically make a story more compelling. It doesn’t change what isn’t broken, like having Josh Brolin play the villain (fresh off playing Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War, Brolin here plays Cable, a robot man from the future), but it makes small, helpful tweaks to the formula, like wrapping things up in less than two hours.
Deadpool 2 may overdo the cutesiness at times, but it never strains under the weight of a corporation’s decade-long plan. Even the title—just the number two, no grandiose prog rock subtitle—seems like a swipe at the more “epic” franchises. And that feels both honest and necessary.