Is it a good or a bad thing that Deadpool 2 came out so close after Infinity War?
While Infinity War definitely hasn’t hurt Deadpool 2’s box office success, given the audience overlap for both films, I can’t help but feel that a lot of people may compare the two – I certainly did.
The thing with Deadpool though, is that it’s kind of hard to top the first one because it was something so new. The first Deadpool film was irreverent, gory, and funny – and lived up to at least some of the weirdness of his 2D incarnation. Part of the reason for Deadpool’s success was that an R-rated costumed hero flick was new and radical. Since then, we’ve had Logan, which won all the praise, and Deadpool itself set a high bar for its sequel to match.
And I think in some ways it definitely did. The new characters are pretty awesome: Negasonic Teenage Warhead’s girlfriend Yukio (Shiori Kutsuna) is adorable (and definitely deserved more screen time), while Domino (Zazie Beets) is AMAZING and better have more screen time in the upcoming X force movie.
When was the last time you saw a ‘plus size’ superhero?
The representation in the film is fantastic in some ways – you’ve got the above mentioned Negasonic/Yukio couple – the world needs more badass adorable lesbian superheroes. Russell Collins, a blonde haired American in the comics, is here played by Maori actor Julian Dennison. He also raises a pretty good point about the lack of plus size superheroes – when was the last time you saw one?
There are also more women and people of colour proportionally than you get in most mainstream Marvel films, given the size of the core cast – I think Black Panther is the only one that beats it.
On the surface, its queer representation is unparalleled for a superhero film: an openly lesbian couple, plus Deadpool’s own pansexuality is certainly more than most get. But there have been accusations of queerbaiting with regards to Deadpool in particular.
The question we have to ask ourselves is this: should we be satisfied with the mere presence of a diverse cast? Many of the cast are sidelined or left as occasional comic relief. Yukio, in particular has been criticised for the use of the ‘Asian hair streak‘ trope, and her character, while still adorable, is hardly groundbreaking when it comes to Asian representation.
The film isn’t perfect. There are a few jokes that come across as lazy, some that border on offensive, and you have to be a pop culture and comics savant to get all of the references. The last, is at least, fairly in line with the comics.
The film was also hit by controversy after a stunt woman was killed during filming. Her death was especially egregious due to accusations that her death was due to the film makers insistence that a woman of colour perform the stunt, despite a lack of proper training
While you wouldn’t expect the film itself to reference to this, I did think that putting her in-memoriam card right at the very end of the credits was a poor choice, especially as Deadpool 2 doesn’t have an end credits sequence to guarantee people staying that long.
T.J Miller, who plays Weasel in both Deadpool films was also accused of sexually assaulting a woman in the wake of the #metoo movement, and was charged over a fake bomb threat on a train in April 2017. At the very least, while Miller’s performance remained in Deadpool 2 (though very little would have been lost had they cut him), Ryan Reynolds stated in a New York Times interview that Miller wouldn’t be returning for the upcoming X-Force spin-off.
So while it is an enjoyable film, it has a lot of baggage both narratively and behind the scenes.
SPOILERS BELOW CUT
The biggest problem I had with Deadpool 2 though, was the thing that drove Deadpool through the film – killing of his girlfriend Vanessa before the title sequence. Killing off the male protagonist’s love interest, or ‘fridging’ as a plot device is a pretty common trope – though the writers of Deadpool 2 claim they weren’t aware of its existence. Ironic, since former Deadpool writer Gail Simone set up a list back in 1999 of all the characters the trope applies to.
Fans themselves are torn, and with the very meta mid credits scene, it’s hard to tell if Vanessa’s death is even still canon, but it’s a little depressing how predictable I found it. (Though the boys next to me in the cinema definitely didn’t see it coming, if the chorus of ‘Oh Shit!’ was anything to go by.)
Some of it was thanks to the trailer editing, but even so, it’s an old and outdated trope. We should be able to come up with stories that don’t rely on Man Pain™ to motivate their heroes.
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