Deadpool 2 is finally here, and whether or not you think it lives up to the original (you can read Screen Mayhem’s review here), there’s no denying that the marketing has been as absurd as its predecessor’s.
Billboards have been used to pay homage to other movies of various genres, while Wal-Mart has gone so far as to replace DVD covers of movies with the likeness of our protagonist. Trailers for the film have been over-the-top too, one of which includes Deadpool giving his best Bob Ross impression. Another trailer uses toys as stand-ins for the actors.
Humor is a central element of the Deadpool series, and if the movie connects with audiences’ funny-bones in the way that the marketing seems to have then the sequel is a surefire hit. But, before you give your hard-earned taco money to the movie theater let’s take a look back at five more qualities that made the first Deadpool great.
The Supporting Cast
Star power does a lot to carry any movie, but don’t forget the value of a good supporting cast. Sometimes they even steal the show! Leslie Uggams is absolutely hilarious in every scene as Blind Al. During her introduction, she has no qualms telling Wade he is an idiot for wearing white as he seeks his blood-drenched revenge. Her best moment in the movie is in the laundromat when she declares how much she misses a certain white powdery substance.
Another woman deserving a mention is Morena Baccarin as Wade’s paramour Vanessa. Her back and forth comparing childhoods with Wade is a masterclass in dialogue. She doesn’t stay at that manic pace for the whole movie, which is actually quite refreshing. Once she gets comfortable with Wade, we see that she mellows out a bit, showing the growth of her character despite her limited screen time.
Brianna Hildebrand as Negasonic Teenage Warhead is another noteworthy mention. She was delightfully surly and captured the “so over it” attitude perfectly. It’s easy to see that she wants to be a good trainee but still condones Deadpool’s actions.
The supporting men deserve a mention as well. Who could forget Colossus standing there in his larger-than-life metallic glory? He’s a great foil for Deadpool and compels him to discard his mercenary ways. Colossus’ best moment was his attempt to deliver a monologue with a spray of blood across his face.
Of course, it’s only fair to give the villains their due. Ed Skrein was a deliciously sinister Ajax/Francis. From the moment we’re introduced to him and his scenes in the “clinic,” it’s believable that he felt no pain or mercy. Everyone deserves some recognition in this superb cast.
Music choices, both score and soundtrack, have the power to enhance or detract from the viewer’s experience. Luckily, both Deadpool’s score and soundtrack elevate the material with well-chosen music. Older music in a soundtrack can be a risk because cashing in on nostalgia can be distracting. The DeadpoolSoundtrack perfectly executes older songs with purpose.
For example, the opening credits pair the 1981 song “Angel of the Morning” by Juice Newton with a clever and entertaining animation. It sets the tone for the movie, letting the viewer know not to take the movie too seriously.
In another scene, Deadpool sits on the edge of an overpass, jamming out to Salt-N-Pepa on his Walkman, kicking his legs and coloring a picture. This moment introduces his character instead of the typical voiceover serving as exposition. The “Calendar Girl” montage chronicling Wade’s and Vanesa’s relationship changed the meaning of that song for many moviegoers.
My favorite use of the soundtrack fills the viewer with a sense of excitement for what’s to come. It comes in the scene where Deadpool cues “X Gon’ Give It to Ya” as he, Colossus, and Negasonic Teenage Warhead walk into battle. The “Deadpool Rap” feels like a 90s throwback and lightens the tone of his revenge montage. These tracks fit perfectly because they feel as they were choices that the original Deadpool made. The Junkie XL score also calls back to an earlier time, sounding straight out of an 80s synthesizer.
While the entire score is great, the standout theme is “Maximum Effort.” Not only does the theme pump you up, but it sums up the efforts of the cast and crew who make this a noteworthy production.
The Non-Linear Narrative
Many movies use non-linear narratives to create mystery, but Deadpool uses this technique to break-up an otherwise straightforward plot. It frees the audience from slogging through Wade Wilson’s past at the beginning of the movie.
From the start Deadpool is slaughtering bad guys, cracking jokes, and breaking the fourth wall. After satisfying the audience’s need for action, the movie goes back to Deadpool’s origins as a mercenary who puts punks in their place. Once the movie drives that point home, it takes us back to the present. The narrative only goes back in time when it’s needed to fill us in on the important pieces of his story.
The timing and pacing of the flashbacks are perfect, and not once is the device overused. It feels like a natural way to tell this story. This stylistic choice keeps the movie from being too ordinary.
A Limited Budget Used Well
In this age of comic book movies, we’re used to high production costs, often over the $100 million dollar mark. In fact, the standard for a single new film is usually more than $150 million.
Studios weren’t willing to risk that kind of money with Deadpool’s uncertain return on investment. Deadpool’s debut ended up with a paltry $58 million production budget, but you’d never know it. In fact, it looks as good as any of the other X-Men or Marvel movies with $100 million dollars budgets. The massively limited production budget adds a certain charm to Deadpool.
The team behind Deadpool had to get creative with limited resources, and much of the movie’s humor stems from those choices. For instance, in one scene Deadpool packs up massive bags of guns and ammo only to forget them at home when he goes off into battle. This avoids the costly production of an epic fight with never-ending bullets.
Later on, he breaks the fourth wall to tell the audience that Deadpool could only afford the two X-Men characters you see in the film. While the movie has a great cast, Reynolds is the only A-lister among them, saving money on personnel costs. It’s no surprise that Reynold’s fought to keep the budget for the sequel low as well to keep that same charm.
Ryan Reynolds’ Influence
The Deadpool Fandom gave a collective cheer when they learned that Ryan Reynolds was taking up the mantle in the announcement for X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Who better to play the Merc with a Mouth than an actor with a history of playing that exact type of character? We all know how that story ended.
They took the mouth away from the Merc, which was only one of many issues fans had with X-Men Origins. The character was an epic disappointment. Reynolds remained determined to play his favorite comic book character right. He produced and contributed to financing Deadpool.
Not only is he a natural in the lead role, but he went to great pains to make sure this movie got the character right. His dedication extended to paying writers to be on set to help on the film when the studio refused to cover them. Reynolds’ attention to detail in Deadpool has also influenced studios to take more risks on comic book characters who may not be family-friendly.
Deadpool certainly paved the way for a more diverse comic book movie line-up. Would we have gotten the R-rated Logan if it weren’t for Deadpool? Studios might have pressured these movies to tone it down if the financial success and acclaim of Deadpool had not set the precedent.
Overall Deadpool is a fun movie with a standard story that is well executed. I hope that its sequel is as well-crafted, and I can’t wait to see how it lampoons comic book sequels in the next installment.