Deadpool 2 - a feminist fail
Deadpool is back after smashing box office records for R-rated superhero films with its 2016 debut outing. The film may be another hit, but it fails when it comes to gender diversity, writes Darren Bevan.
It's no spoiler to say Deadpool 2 continues the gruesome come laissez-faire attitude, opening with Deadpool's severed arm flying out of the screen, middle finger firmly pointing in the air and heading towards the viewer.
In this sequel, Ryan Reynolds' scarred hero is looking at starting a family with his beau, Vanessa (Morena Baccarin).
However, his plans are irrevocably changed when he's pulled into a side mission to save fire-flinging mutant Russell Collins (Julian Dennison) from a time-travelling Terminator-type, Cable (Josh Brolin).
Once again ramping up the irreverence and meta-touches, Deadpool 2 has no desire to conform to the norm, despite at its heart, being a film about family, in all its many dysfunctional ways.
Atomic Blonde and John Wick director David Leitch packs in some truly solid action pieces, that pop and sparkle with slow-mo and frenetic moments aplenty.
However, it's fair to say that Deadpool's superhero world is still depressingly a boys' club. Even the introduction of Zazie Beetz's Domino, with her own scenes to shine, pales in significance.
Horrendously sidelined or blatantly tossed aside, the portrayal of women in this film is a continuing worry - for a film that snubs conventions and that could use the meta to its advantage, it's extraordinarily tame at coming forward when it truly counts.
Meanwhile, for all of its messed up family vibe, Deadpool 2 nearly gets lost in some of the heart that's on show.
Granted, for every moment that comes close to sentiment, there's Reynolds' Wade cocking a snook to the audience; but unlike others of its ilk, where the flippancy overrules what few stakes there are, this actually works in the film's favour.
Reynolds delivers an on-point performance, relishing every moment to shine, and allowing every snark and meta-touch to settle. As the film initially takes a little time to get going, the messed-up narrative finally settles and Reynolds more than delivers as his character doubles down on what made the first a R-rated hit.
While Deadpool 2 hits a bit of a lull in the final run, with quips starting to grate (certainly the post-credits sequences will leave you both laughing and scratching your head as you analyse the relevance for what's happened over the past two hours), it's simply a film that fires on all cylinders and delivers what you'd expect.
But be aware, a third helping should not deliver more of the same - and with its portrayal of females still something to be mastered, it's obvious that in future, this franchise may need to put its money where its smart mouth is.
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Julian Dennison, Zazie Beetz, TJ Miller, Morena Baccarin
Director: David Leitch