My Most Anticipated Movie of 2018 was not Infinity War. It wasn’t Solo: A Star Wars Story. It certainly wasn’t that terrible looking remake of Overboard. No, the movie I wanted to see, more than anything, was Deadpool 2.
Now that I’ve seen it? Well, it was fun to watch. I enjoyed it for the most part. But one disappointment, in particular, kept me from loving the film.
Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) recruits help from other mutants in order to keep Cable (Josh Brolin), a terse badass from the future, from killing Russell (Julian Dennison), a teenage mutant with pyrokinesis who will one day become a supervillain.
1. Truthfully, I don’t think I have a whole lot to say about Deadpool 2. I had a decent time in theater: I’ll always be a sucker for both found families and superheroes who swear, and Wade Wilson continues to be the role Ryan Reynolds was born to play. There are one or two surprises in this I didn’t see coming, cameos especially. And most of the humor worked really well for me. I love both the opening and end credits (I cracked up at “One of the Guys Who Killed John Wick’s Dog”), and one scene in particular made me laugh so hard I cried.
But I was definitely disappointed by the lack of screen time for the female characters.
Admittedly, Domino (Zazie Beetz) gets a fair amount to do, and she’s pretty awesome. I’ve always thought luck was one of the most fun superpowers, and I’m really happy with her addition to the franchise. But after the events of the first film, I was really looking forward to seeing more of Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), and while they’re both in the film, one character gets sidelined and the other just criminally underused. Can’t lie: I was super bummed by this.
2. On the upside, Negasonic Teenage Warhead gets a girlfriend, Yukio (Shioli Kutsuna). Which means Deadpool 2 isn’t just a silly film with a lot of violent death and butt humor; it’s also the first Marvel film to actually have an openly acknowledged LGBTQIA relationship. I can’t lie and say we see much of said relationship (honestly, I can’t even remember if these two talk to each other on screen, much less make out), but Negasonic Teenage Warhead and Yukio are explicitly, canonically a queer couple, like, this isn’t just a bunch of marketing nonsense where one of the producers talks a big game about oh, how progressive they are because one of their characters is gay, even though there’s absolutely no hard evidence of that in the film itself. (Cough cough, Beauty and the Beast. Cough cough, Solo: A Star Wars Story. Well, probably. I haven’t seen it, but I’m pretty sure.)
And while it’s blatantly pathetic that it’s taken Marvel this long to even have a canon queer couple (like, seriously, how many movies have they put out in the last five years alone), it’s still nice to see some actual LGBTQIA representation. It helps, too, that I didn’t sit through months of Deadpool 2 press talking about how awesome and brave they were for including NTW/Yukio, because that let their super minimal on-screen relationship be a nice surprise, rather than a huge queer letdown. (Cough fucking cough, Star Trek Beyond.)
3. Something unequivocally awesome about this film? The soundtrack.
I suddenly appreciate Celine Dion in a way I never have before.
Along with Ms. Dion, the Deadpool 2 soundtrack is the weird mishmash of rap, 80’s pop, and dubstep you didn’t know you needed in your life. I, personally, am all here for Dolly Parton, Pat Benatar, DJ Shadow feat. Run the Jewels, Skrillex, and A-Ha. (It’s all about that slow, soulful version of “Take On Me.”) This is a soundtrack that fits its movie beautifully.
4. Pretty much everything else I want to say includes spoilers, so I’ll just wrap here by mentioning that it was cool to see a live-action version of Cable. I first encountered the character as a kid in X-Men: The Animated Series and later as part of my dream team fighter squad while playing Marvel vs. Capcom II. (SonSon, T. Bonne, and Cable FTW!) Here, Josh Brolin is adequately grizzled and tragic and works well for me opposite Ryan Reynolds. I mean, they aren’t the ultimate dynamic duo that is Groot and Thor or anything, but I enjoyed them well enough.
If you’d like more detail on what really worked for me (and what really didn’t), continue below.
So. They fridge Vanessa.
Admittedly, Vanessa is only temporarily fridged. I was pretty sure she’d be brought back to life by the end of the movie, considering this one’s about time travel and all. (Actually, I knew very little about the plot of Deadpool 2 prior to seeing the film; I purposefully tried to avoid a lot of the promotional material. But I did know Cable was in it, and Cable comes from the future, so. It seemed like an easy conclusion to make.) Still, Vanessa isn’t brought back until the very end of the film, like, we’re talking the literal end credits here. And while the end credit scenes are actually some of the funniest bits in the whole movie–we’ll come back to them in a bit–it doesn’t change the fact that for the majority of this film, Vanessa is dead as a doornail.
It just. It sucks. Vanessa is easily one of my favorite love interests in the Marvel universe, and I’d assumed she’d have a much more active role this time around. Not like I was necessarily expecting her to suit up and fight super villains or anything, but I thought she might get involved in at least one or two action scenes, make plot-relevant choices or decisions, have more cute, R-rated romcom moments with Wade, and otherwise, you know, be alive. Instead, she’s pretty much relegated to Man Pain Instigator and Plot Device, and while that doesn’t make Deadpool 2 a bad movie by any means, it does remain a conventional and boring choice that sucks some joy out of the film for me.
And if you’re feeling inclined to be charitable and say Vanessa’s death and resurrection was an intentional trope subversion or something, sorry, but the writers have already gone on record saying they’d never even heard of “women in refrigerators” before, which, like. Come on. This is not an obscure trope. Maybe hiring a female writer or two wouldn’t have gone amiss here.
I’ve been trying to decide how I’d want to fix this exactly–because if Wade and Vanessa had broken up between films, I’d have been pissed too, like, dudes, no, don’t fucking Civil War me on this shit. So my current idea, possibly to be revised at a later date, is to go ahead and actually kill Vanessa in the beginning, giving Deadpool the angsty impetus for his quest to save Russell, BUT also have Deadpool save Vanessa much, much earlier in the film. (Presumably he’d steal Cable’s time traveling device or something.) Then Deadpool, having actually grown attached to the kid despite himself, would decide to save Russell from a) Cable, and b) turning evil. So, like, there’s still changing and growing and whatnot. Meanwhile, Vanessa, too, would have to come to terms with that whole ‘wait, I was DEAD’ realization, like, obviously she’d be happy her BF went back in time and saved her life and all, but also, that’s a lot to process, right? That’s a near death experience taken to some fucking extremes. Which could totally fuel her own decisions in this movie, decisions that would both be plot-relevant and also give her some actual interiority.
I don’t know if it’s a perfect fix, exactly, but I do like it considerably more than what actually happens in Deadpool 2. And mind you, some of this could still occur if a third movie gets made, but right now, I’m not expecting much from the writers here. Vanessa is awesome because she’s funny and a nerd and a sex worker who takes no shit from anyone, but in the space of two films, she’s been pushed into one Boring Female Character trope after another: in the first movie, she’s a damsel in distress, and in the second, a Refrigerated Woman. In a hypothetical third film, I suspect she’d become, like, Wife and Mother on the Sidelines, you know, basically the same character that Jordana Brewster has been playing in the Fast & Furious franchise for roughly a decade. And come on. Who the fuck wants that?
Which isn’t to say that I don’t want Vanessa to get pregnant or have kids because holy shit, no, I LOVE the idea of Mom Vanessa and Daddy Deadpool. There’s this fanfic on Archive I reread recently called “Just Like a Child” by Snapjack where, shortly after the events of the first film, Wade and Vanessa end up taking in Negasonic Teenage Warhead for a while, and it’s just the BEST. (Although it was written before NTW was canonically queer, so keep that in mind.) Anyway, I’m all about these two as the most hilarious, irreverent, dangerous, and super loving parents ever. I just don’t want Mom Vanessa to be stuck with absolutely nothing to do except hold a baby on her hip, tell Wade she loves him over the phone or something (giving him proper motivation to survive whatever he has to survive and come back to her), and–maybe–get turned into a damsel again for a third act showdown.
Hm. Apparently, when I said I didn’t have much to say about Deadpool, what I really meant was “I don’t have too much to say EXCEPT OMG ALL MY VANESSA FEELS.” I will now attempt to move on by continuing where I left off with my random notes.
5. Negasonic Teenage Warhead’s limited screen time doesn’t bum me out quite as much as the fridging of Vanessa, but I do find it disappointing.
She’s just such an awesome side character and, for me, kind of a style icon, like, I’m basically obsessed with her hair in this film. In my idealized Deadpool 3, NTW will play a much bigger role. Also, more of Yukio!
6. Dopinder’s okay, I guess, like I’m sure he had one or two lines that made me laugh. Nevertheless, he easily remains my least favorite character in this franchise, like, I don’t mind if he’s in the sequel, but I also totally wouldn’t care if he got cut, either.
7. If you’re interested, the scene that made me laugh so hard I cried was the “mass slaughter of the X-Force team.” Now, I might have felt differently if I was a comics reader and had been attached to these characters in any way, shape, or form (particularly Shatterstar, whose sexuality has apparently been rewritten any number of times but was at one point canonically asexual), but as is, I was pretty much howling with laughter. Especially when The Vanisher died.
8. Speaking of which, cameos!
Brad Pitt plays The Vanisher. (I actually didn’t recognize him because the blink-if-you-miss-it-shot of his face was just too fast for my not-amazing facial recognition skills to deal with. Still laughed really hard, though, even before I realized who it was.)
Terry Crews plays Bedlam. (I was a little sad to lose Crews, but since I had an inkling of where this bit was going right before the team jumped, I wasn’t totally shocked, either. Still, Terry Crews seems pretty awesome. I really should check out Brooklyn 9-9, now that it’s successfully come back from the dead. #SaveTheExpanseToo)
Bill Skarsgard plays Zeitgeist. (His death was also pretty gruesomely hilarious.)
Matt Damon plays Redneck #1. (Once again with Damon! This chameleon motherfucker; he looked familiar but I just couldn’t place him.)
Alan Tudyk plays Redneck #2. (I did recognize Tudyk and am always happy to see him.)
Tye Sheridan, Nicholas Hoult, Alexandra Shipp, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Evan Peters, and James McAvoy play Cyclops, Beast, Storm, Nightcrawler, Quicksilver, and Professor X respectively, all hiding in a room from Deadpool. (Loved it. I’d been betting on a Jackman cameo, myself, but this was pretty great.)
Ryan Reynolds plays Juggernaut. (I believe Juggernaut’s credited as “voiced by himself,” so I had to wait until I got home to see who was voicing the character.)
9. Maybe it’s just because I didn’t watch many of the trailers beforehand, but Juggernaut was a nice surprise. I honestly hadn’t been expecting him at all. Always cool to see a better version of a character who was ruined by a previous movie in the franchise.
10. Which brings us, finally, to the end credits where Deadpool not only saves his lady love with a cream cheese spreader, he also fixes a few timelines by a) killing Past Deadpool from X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and b) killing Ryan Reynolds before he could make Green Lantern.
I laughed so hard, people. It’s hysterical. Ryan Reynolds really does bring Canadian self-deprecation to a whole new level, doesn’t he?
Deadpool: “You’re so dark. Are you sure you’re not from the DC Universe?”
Deadpool: “Well, that’s just lazy writing.”
Domino: “I really should’ve stayed in college.”
Deadpool: “Give me your best shot, One-Eyed Willie.”
Cable: “Who are you?”
Deadpool: “I’m Batman.”
Wade: “Don’t fuck Elvis.”
Vanessa: “Don’t fuck Colossus.”
Deadpool: “With this collar on, my superpower is just unbridled cancer. Give me a bow and arrow, and I’m basically Hawkeye.”
Weasel: “It’s a goddamned fanny pack and you know it, you sick son of a bitch.”
Blind Al: “Can you speak up? It’s hard to hear you with that pity dick in your mouth.”
Deadpool: “Only best buddies execute pedophiles together.”
It’s a really enjoyable time. I’d totally watch it again. I’m just disappointed by it, too.
No, you can’t kill Baby Hitler.