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Minor spoiler alert.
For a film that can be described as far dirtier, far bloodier and far more meta than its predecessor, it’s odd to admit that “Deadpool 2” also has more heart than the original.
When we last left Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds), he had rescued and reconciled with his love interest Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) after she was kidnapped by baddie Ajax, the cleaning product-named villain who disfigured Wade and gave him his super-healing abilities.
“Deadpool 2” opens with a montage of Wade traveling around the globe killing bad guys for hire and then coming home to Vanessa to celebrate their anniversary.
As a gift, Wade gives Vanessa an arcade token, a call back to their first date, and Vanessa gives Wade her IUD birth control device, telling him she’s ready to start a family.
But before Wade and Vanessa have the chance to put on their favorite lovemaking music, the target of one of Deadpool’s botched assassination attempts raids their apartment, and Wade and Vanessa are separated..
This event sends our immortal Wade into a suicidal spiral.
It’s this opening, the constant reminders of a family that could’ve been and moments of Wade envisioning his life with Vanessa that give this movie its emotional core.
Audiences who are coming exclusively for the phallic jokes and decapitations might squirm during these emotional Deadpool scenes or expect him to crack a joke to break the tension. But no, Reynolds and the gang commit. And surprisingly, it works.
This doesn’t mean that the first act of the movie is seamlessly executed.
A good amount of the first act drags. Colossus tries to recruit Wade again, Wade screws up and ends up in mutant jail and, while wearing a power-cancelling collar, just pouts as his cancer starts to take over his body.
This is tonally similar to the first “Deadpool” film. There’s a stretch in that movie early on where there’s just not much action going on and the jokes don’t land as well.
But just like in the first film, “Deadpool 2” picks up and does so in a big way.
Cable shows up, X-Force is assembled, surprise characters appear, people die, Wade gets cut in half and the jokes come so furiously fast one after the other that it’s impossible to catch them all in one viewing.
From then on, the movie is pure gold, largely exceeding the first.
What Reynolds has managed to do with the character is phenomenal. His delivery can teeter the character from shocking to charming in the same scene.
His manic interactions with his supporting cast, which include scene-stealing performances from Josh Brolin, Zazie Beetz and Julian Dennison, give the very well known anti-hero an element of surprise.
We’re looking at another iconic comic book movie role that may be impossible to recast.
The awareness that Reynolds and writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick have on Deadpool, the X-Men world and current pop culture give them a comedic arsenal. And director David Leitch’s tight action sequences combine for a film that proves that Deadpool’s first outing was not a flash in the pan.