“Doing the right thing is messy.”
There’s nothing worse than someone who desperately tries to be the funniest person in the room. Usually, you’re hanging out with your friends and you’re introduced to some random person you’ve never seen before in your life by someone you know, who makes the fatal mistake by leading off the awkward introduction by saying, “You have to meet so and so. He’s SO funny.” Once that happens, the guy becomes the loudest, most obnoxious person in the social circle he’s infiltrated. Every joke and reference the guy makes is just lazy, low hanging fruit. It’s always a combination of excessive profanity and sexual innuendo. In some instances, the tiniest hint of racism is sprinkled on top as an anti-PC garnish. You don’t really want to say anything, because if you say something, the guy will make some tone deaf, sarcastic retort as a way to try and bust your balls. Sometimes, you uncomfortably laugh as if you’re watching a terrifying movie, but ultimately, you just awkwardly stand there, hoping the guy will just go away. Spoiler alert: he almost never does. Once he does, you start to resent the person who introduced you to that schmuck. You almost feel bad for the guy, because when someone introduces you that way, you immediately feel pressured to try and impress this random group of strangers you find yourself with. I’ve been introduced that way on a few occasions, so I know how it can feel. I hate to be the kind of insufferable person who gives himself a pat on the back, but when I was in middle and high school, I was one of those people whose entire social reputation was built around the fact I really knew how to make people laugh. It’s one of the few things I can honestly say I’m good at. Whenever someone mentioned my name, it was always followed with, “Oh yeah, he’s funny.” If you looked at my yearbooks from those days, that’s basically what people signed at the end of the year. You were really funny. I guess there wasn’t much else to write about me. Looking back, maybe it’s kind of sad I was typecast as a clown, but once you see someone desperately try to prove how funny they are, you realize that not everyone has the innate ability to genuinely make people laugh. You wear it as a badge of honor, even though it sends you down an unfortunate path where you are rarely ever taken seriously. Now, trust me, there were times where I obnoxiously stretched myself thin in order to get laughs, but unlike the douchebag who tries their hardest to be funny, I’m always aware when I have reached the point of being obnoxious just for the sake of being obnoxious, so I try to keep those instances to a minimum. I have a very reactive sense of humor, so every funny thing I say or do is based off what someone else does. I wouldn’t really call it sarcasm, even though sarcasm is reactive by nature. In my case, I would just call it a defense mechanism. Of course, I’m sure there’s people who know me who’d disagree with me, saying I am the unfunny asshole I’m currently making fun of. I get it. Whether that’s true or not, I don’t really know. What I do know is, I’ve been around people who are proactively trying to assert themselves as the funniest person around, and whenever it starts to happen, you immediately feel all of the air getting sucked out of the room. A person constantly trying to be funny is a person constantly searching for their own laugh track, and that’s what Deadpool 2 ultimately felt like; a film desperately searching for its own laugh track.
When Deadpool came out Valentine’s Day weekend in 2016, it was an unmitigated success for 20th Century Fox, who were desperate for their own superhero hit to distinguish themselves from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It grossed nearly 133 million dollars its opening weekend, giving it the highest opening of any R-rated movie ever. For better and for worse, it proved you could make a highly successful, unapologetically violent and raunchy superhero movie. For Ryan Reynolds, a charismatic guy who had become somewhat of a punchline following the infamously disastrous Green Lantern, it proved you could call him a leading man while keeping a straight face. People responded to Deadpool’s meta-ness and its extreme violence. Audiences felt like they were watching something naughty as if they had taken a time machine to when they were all a bunch of children watching something their parents would never let them see. Deadpool was the kind of film tailor made for underage kids to try and sneak into. It was no secret we were going to get a sequel.
DISCLAIMER: Before I proceed, let me just say, to all the comic book nerds out there, I completely understand the entire appeal of Deadpool is he’s the obnoxious, ultra-violent “Merc with the Mouth” who doesn’t let bloodshed go to waste without delivering a barrage of witty, sarcastic quips. I get it. I grew up a comic book nerd, just like you did. I just choose not to treat these characters as if they are religious deities with their own set of dharma.
Deadpool 2 is a feature length assortment of lazy jokes and references designed to make the fat neckbeard next to you nudge you with their elbow in a desperate attempt to find someone else who understood the same references they did. Somewhere in the carcass of the dead horse Deadpool 2 beats, lies a story. In a violent montage set to Dolly Parton’s hit song “9 to 5”, we’re re-introduced to Wade Wilson, a.k.a. Deadpool, as he continues his job as a mercenary. Wilson’s 9 to 5 gig is killing people. You get it? Isn’t that hilarious? You know a film is desperate to impress when they lazily juxtapose extreme violence with painfully, unoriginal needle drops. By the time this baby is over, you WILL see a climatic action sequence set to “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow” and you WILL want to throw up. So, Deadpool is effortlessly mowing people down, because he can’t die. Despite having better fight sequences than the first (it helps when the director co-directed John Wick), there’s no real stakes involved because Deadpool is something who can’t die. He is grotesquely deformed and bloodied by foes, but he’s soon right back to violently massacring hordes of dumb, helpless people. Deadpool 2 attempts to give itself an emotional spine by killing off Wade’s girlfriend Vanessa, right before they are about to settle down and have children. See, Vanessa believes Wade is capable of being a good person if he has a kid because, and I quote, “kids give us a chance of being better than we used to be.” Please excuse me while I roll my eyes. In the most obnoxious moment of the film, Vanessa’s murder, an emotional moment, is immediately undercut by the proceeding opening credits, which mocks Bond movies and comes complete with cringe-worthy jokes such as “Cinematography by Blind Al” and “Directed by One of the Guys Who Killed the Dog in John Wick”. Isn’t that hilarious? Deadpool eventually creates an “X-Force” as a way to stick it to the X-Men and goes after Cable (Josh Brolin), a time-traveling brute of a man with a cyborg arm, who is trying to kill young mutant Russell (Julian Dennison) before he grows up to become a homicidal maniac who kills Cable’s family. It’s like The Terminator. You get it? Deadpool’s X-Force contains six members: Domino (Zazie Beetz), whose superpower is luck; Bedlam (Terry Crews), whose superpower is he can manipulate electrical energy and detect brainwaves; Vanisher, whose superpower is he can vanish, Shatterstar (Lewis Tan), whose superpower is he has these mystical blades for combat; Zeitgeist (Bill Skarsgaard), whose superpower is he can spew acidic vomit; and Peter (Rob Delaney), who has no superpowers. Peter has no superpowers. Isn’t that hilarious? Of course, the creation of the X-Force leads to a stupid gag that goes on way too long, because this the kind of film we’re dealing with here. Through expository flashbacks. we find out the reason why Russell is on the path towards becoming a homicidal maniac of a mutant is because he spent time at a mutant rehabilitation facility getting tortured by its headmaster (Eddie Marsdan) and his set of orderlies and is seeking revenge. In a smart version of this film, it would have something to say about the psychological effects of child abuse and torture. In this stupid movie? The facility solely exists just so Deadpool can make jokes about how the headmaster and his orderlies look like a bunch of pedophiles because nothing tickles funny bones more than some good old-fashioned pedophilia jokes. You can pretty much guess where the film eventually goes. There’s a big fight with terrible CGI at the end. Blah, blah, blah. You’ve seen it all before.
For a franchise that prides itself on openly mocking Marvel and DC films, Deadpool 2 certainly has no qualms following the same conventions those movies follow. It’s really hard to sell me on your film’s meta-ness when you are exactly what you claim to hate. You can throw it all the Thanos quips and all the jokes about DC’s self seriousness you want, but it doesn’t make your film any better. I’m sure detractors will say it’s all intentionally in good fun, but is it really? If you wink and look at the camera to sell a joke, does it lessen the harshness of the joke? I don’t think it does. For one thing, Deadpool spends its entirety openly laughing at the audience who has come to see it because its target audience loves the superhero movies it is busy making fun of. Do people, especially nerds, like being made fun of for liking something? No, they typically don’t, but for some reason, they can’t get enough of laughing with someone who is busy laughing at them. The whole idea of being a nerd is having your obsessions you consider to be precious and beyond reproach, so you protect their purity despite the attempts of bullies to make fun of you for your obsessions. Now, the bullied are joining the bullies, because they’ve collectively contracted some strange strain of Stockholm Syndrome. The success of these films is deeply unsetting, not only because they present a form of lazy unoriginality masqueraded as cleverness, but, because it inspires people to respond to pop culture in some disaffected, nihilist way. Basically, what you like is stupid and meaningless and you should be made fun for liking such trash. People wanted to bitch and moan about Star Wars: The Last Jedi for ruining their childhoods because of its treatment of Luke Skywalker, but The Last Jedi didn’t spend its entirety making fun of you for liking Star Wars in the first place. I guarantee you the same people who were outraged over that film are the same people who watched Deadpool and will watch Deadpool 2 this weekend and feel unbothered by the fact they are subliminally being laughed at by someone they think is cool. Perhaps, I need to lighten up and just enjoy the ride these films provide. Perhaps, I’m just a little too tense and melodramatic. You could say that. I do have my fair share of cantankerous moments. But, I have no interest in paying money to be laughed at for liking things. It’s bad enough we deal with these assholes in real life, who spend their time constantly judge you for your tastes and interests. The last thing we need is a fictional character to do it, too. If you enjoy being laughed at, go ahead. Buy a ticket. Just remember one thing.
You can be made fun of for free.