Summer blockbuster season is here once again, ready to pummel audiences with action movies and big-name adaptations. If "Deadpool 2" is any indication, summer 2018 is off to a good start. This superhero sequel improves upon nearly everything that did not work about the first film, chiefly the watery plot and inconsistent humor. The direction is a marked improvement over its predecessor as well. David Leitch (co-director of "John Wick") delivers are far more colorful and spirited product than the dreary, clunky original.
Following a spoileriffic tragedy, Wade Wilson, aka Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) finds himself depressed and alone. He attempts to immolate himself in a giant explosion, only to realize that due to his regenerative abilities he cannot die. Looking for meaning in his life, the Merc with a Mouth joins the X-Men (well, just the members that appeared in the last film, plus Negasonic Teenage Warhead's girlfriend). On their first outing with their new member, the X-Men must stop a young mutant named Russell (Julian Dennison) who is attempting to use his fire powers to burn down the orphanage where he is a resident. Deadpool botches the mission and lands in mutant jail alongside Russell.
While in prison, Wilson develops a tenuous fatherly bond with Russell (as he quips in the film's cold open "["Deadpool 2"] is a movie about family"). This bond is soon tested with the arrival of Cable (Josh Brolin), a time-traveling cyborg mutant who is out to kill Russell. In the future, Russell becomes a supervillain who kills Cable's family. Deadpool sees the good in Russell and thinks he can prevent him from becoming a future killer. In the ensuing prison scuffle, Wilson and Cable are thrown from the prison, leaving Russell behind. It is now up to Deadpool to enlist a ragtag team of heroes so he can rescue his young pal before Cable gets to him.
The strength of "Deadpool 2" derives from its large cast of supporting characters. After all, this is a movie about family. Deadpool is empty inside but learns to fill the void with the company of his X-Men friends and his assembled team of rejects, the X-Force. Colossus, one of the best parts of the first "Deadpool" is still great here, working as a scoutmaster goody-two-shoes straight man to Wilson's violent Looney Tune antics. A new edition to this movie is Domino, a mutant who possesses the power of luck. While Deadpool mocks the usefulness of her ability, she makes a great case for her appearance in future X-Men related films. In her action scenes, her mutant ability allows her to survive death-defying stunts and encounters by comically slim chances. Think of the absurd setups from "Final Destination", but for avoiding death. Josh Brolin also proves to be yet another compelling superhero villain after his performance as Thanos in "Avengers: Infinity War". Cable only wants to prevent Russell from creating a disastrous future, but he does not share Deadpool's that the boy can change for the better.
In addition to a great cast, "Deadpool 2" is incredibly funny. Like the previous film, there are pop culture and comic book references galore, but this time it actually feels fresh instead of like rejected "Family Guy" quips. There is a greater emphasis on cartoony slapstick graphic violence in this movie and less on the painfully juvenile sex jokes of its predecessor. While not every joke hits, they fly by at such a rapid-fire rate that they land more often than not.
"Deadpool 2" is a welcome breath of fresh air, or rather a rancid burritos-and-beer burp, for the superhero movie market. Its self-referential humor frequently takes aim at other superhero movies, and it is nice to see one that is willing to take aim at its colleagues. If nothing else, "Deadpool 2" is finally something different in the superhero market. The first movie promised to be the raunchy shakeup we had all been desiring but wound up delivering a generic origin story. After so much sameness, this is finally something different. This is a superhero movie that recognizes the inherent goofiness of the source material and, shock of all shocks, actually has fun with it.