Deadpool 2: Exploring the Hereafter in the Here & Now

Deadpool 2?is the best sequel film I’ve seen, maybe ever. It’s hilarious (but not as funny as the first) with an extraordinary sense of itself. Here, Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool is seeking to find his place in the new world, or in the old world with a new him, diving into a journey that takes him to the afterlife and back. But he’s not alone, because he’s got a family.

Family drives the film, but not necessarily in ways you’d expect. Early on, Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) tells the scarred, masked antihero that she’s ready to make a baby with him; soon, elements in the underworld conspire to prevent the baby-making from happening. Setting off on a journey of self-discovery with profane, self-effacing humor, the sarcastic cynic that is Ryan Reynolds Deadpool drags old friends (Colossus, Negasonic Teenage Warhead, Weasel, Dopinder) and new ones (Domino, Firefist), into a confrontation with Cable (Josh Brolin) and Juggernaut. But the real conflict is between Deadpool and his desire to be reunited with his one true love.

While the first film was a rollercoaster ride of profanity and violence,?Deadpool 2?somehow found its way into more meaningful territory while still predominantly holding onto its sense of humor. While Deadpool wants to see himself as an army of one (which is hard to argue given that he’s indestructible), he truly struggles when recognizing that he does care about other people (his childhood be damned). He actually?needs?Colossus’ help, even if he’ll shrug off the repeated invite to the X-men; he’ll emotionally adopt Firefist/Russell Collins because he sees his own anger and rebellion in the young man’s actions.

Deadpool breaks the “fourth wall,” speaking to the audience along the way, but it has characteristically been included with seamless transitions, whether it’s opening voiceovers or?Saved by the Bell-time stops as Deadpool addresses us. The less-seamless transition is the entrance of Cable, but the elements of X-Force (check out Chris Claremont or Ed Brubaker’s works to see the way that the future of the X-men impacts their present) have been revealed. Yes, there’s Domino, Shatterstar, The Vanisher, etc., but X-Force has always been about Cable. While he doesn’t necessarily arrive in a way that make sense, he’s relevant – and he provides another insight into the way that this is all about … family.

Twisting the written X-Men canon, Cable arrives (with a cape?) in the present because his wife and daughter were murdered by a mutant in the future [Check out X-men: Messiah CompleX and X-men: Second Coming to see how it ‘really’ worked.) He wants to protect his family, and Deadpool struggles to protect his (the possibility of a biological one; the one he has with some X-Men; the way he sees Firefist.) So while he progresses through the narrative in a way that is action-packed, violent, and exciting, he’s also starting to realize what makes his own heart tick, and what his priorities are.

I was highly entertained – even though I know that the film won’t be for everyone. I did notice that there was evangelical pushback against at film subtitled “Second Coming.” So I’ll take a moment to say that the film isn’t trying to be religious but it somehow ends up there. Is there profanity that conservatives will find offensive? It’s a Deadpool film… But if you’re looking to be entertained and you like superheroes for adults, who deal with real life and suffering and family and what it means to have responsibilities … well,?Deadpool 2?actually wrestles with issues that people are wrestling with. Instead of blasting?Deadpool 2?for what it isn’t in a censoring way, maybe people of faith should recognize that there are hurting people all around them dealing with love, and life, and loss, who need language and community to help them understand it.

Deadpool?isn’t a hero. Or is he? Maybe it’s all how we define what a hero is, what we think heroes should be.

Sometimes, being a hero means standing for something bigger than yourself, defending those who can’t defend themselves, living a minute or an hour or a day in a situation that otherwise could crush you.

Maybe, heroic means choosing to live when it would be easier just to give up and die.

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