“Deadpool,” the 2016 film about a wisecracking member of the Marvel universe who can’t die (even though he wants to at times), was a giant hit for 20th Century Fox, earning the second-highest domestic box office for an R-rated movie ever, behind only “The Passion of the Christ.” Fans loved the smarmy, irreverent Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool, and how the film poked fun at its more serious Marvel siblings with in-jokes about Hollywood and the superhero universe.
It makes sense, then, that Fox’s promotion of its sequel, “Deadpool 2,” which opened Friday, has been one giant joke. Even the official synopsis for the film’s plot sent to members of the media was nonsense, reading in part, “After surviving a near fatal bovine attack, a disfigured cafeteria chef (Wade Wilson) struggles to fulfill his dream of becoming Miami’s hottest bartender, while also learning to cope with his lost sense of taste.” (None of that is true, for the record.)
So what did those aforementioned members of the media think of the film (which, by the way, features a local: Marblehead native Rob Delaney)? Critical response has generally been positive, with the film earning an 85 percent freshness rating — and a certified fresh designation — from Rotten Tomatoes at the time of this article’s publication.
A single number can’t adequately capture the range of critical response, however, and many of the reviews coded as “fresh” or “rotten” by the critical aggregation site have a bit more nuance. To help you judge whether to rush to theaters, here’s what some of the top film critics are saying, both good and bad, about “Deadpool 2.”
Count Washington Post critic Michael O’Sullivan among those who can’t get enough of the film’s self-referential nature. He gave the film 4 stars, and said that the film is basically critic-proof.
At the same time that “Deadpool 2” mocks everything from superhero action to audition montages, it inoculates itself against any criticism that might come its way. That’s “Deadpool 2’s” real — and real subversive — superpower: the ability to laugh, unsparingly, at itself.
Christopher Orr of The Atlantic wrote that “Deadpool 2” improves on the 2016 original in most ways. He argued that because filmmakers were able to prove that there was a broad audience appetite for the sarcastic, smarmy superhero, they were able to provide a better plot, better villains, and more unexpected twists in the sequel.
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.
Matt Zoller Seitz of RogerEbert.com admitted that he wasn’t initially a fan of the 2016 original, but as he watched more and more uninspired PG-13 superhero films, he came to appreciate the role of Deadpool in both “Deadpool” and “Deadpool 2” as the “edgy” R-rated sibling of the Marvel family.
There’s something to be said for a film that knows what it is, and is serenely content to be that thing. Except for a few individual lines and sight gags, a brilliantly over-the-top action-comedy sequence near the midsection, and some characteristically sharp performances (including the one by Brolin, who imbues what might’ve otherwise been a granite-jawed killer meathead with recognizable humanity) there’s not much to fondly recall here. But since “Deadpool 2” shows no sign of wanting to rewrite a whole genre with its audacity, we might as well concede that it does the job it apparently wants to do with professionalism and flair.
The Boston Globe’s Ty Burr (who gave the film 2.5 stars out of 4 in his review), said that the film delivers for Deadpool fans and praised co-stars Zazie Beetz and Delaney. But he added some skepticism about whether the protagonist’s sarcastic act may wear thin for some.
The movie exports the sensation of being inordinately pleased with oneself and sells it as shock-value entertainment. Directed by David Leitch, “Deadpool 2” is very good at what it does, which is flattering the audience into feeling like it’s in on the joke. If you’re a doubter, though, you may wonder if the joke’s on us.
A.O. Scott of The New York Times noted that many of the film’s jokes ridiculing how much time other Marvel properties spend brand-building and introducing characters for the sake of potential sequels aren’t so funny when “Deadpool 2” is clearly engaging in the same tactics.
“Deadpool 2,” cracking wise at the expense of nearly every intellectual property in the DC and Marvel universes — and occasionally drawing metaphorical blood to go along with the abundant onscreen gore — uses its self-aware irreverence to perform the kind of brand extension and franchise building it pretends to lampoon. By the end, a motley band of warriors has been assembled to fight evil. Another one. Just what we needed. Those jokes about sequels lined up into the next decade aren’t really jokes, are they?
Over at NPR, Glen Weldon took a hatchet to the film’s referential humor.
…what’s taking up most of the room that would otherwise be occupied by jokes in Deadpool 2‘s screenplay are those many, many, many references.
It’s Family Guy: The Movie.
Or, technically I suppose, it’s Family Guy 2: Here Are Some More Mentions Of Other, Tangentially Related Things You Recognize And Like.
… And it’s gonna make a kabillion dollars.