It’s not often that I’ve felt tired of a movie before I’ve actually seen it, but that’s the exact feeling I had sitting down to see Deadpool 2. And I'm a fan of the antihero. Upon the arrival of his first solo outing in 2016, I was totally Team Wade Wilson. But since then, a growing weariness for the character, or more specifically, Ryan Reynolds’ vice-like grip and promotion of him, has really started to set in.
When the first Deadpool arrived, it was a refreshing R-rated break from the straight-laced superhero movies we had seen thus far. The movie was anarchic, irreverent and paved the way for future comic book films and TV shows to exist outside the box. It was exactly the push 20th Century Fox needed to get out of their X-Men funk and soon they followed it with Logan and the TV series Legion, both of which have been championed by viewers and critics alike.
Deadpool too earned considerable success by earning the title for the highest-grossing R-rated movie, and even became the first superhero movie to earn Golden Globe nominations, but since then it feels like we have been inundated with Deadpool marketing, spearheaded by Reynolds himself.
From posters to trailers, to David Beckham cameos, Twitter profiles for Rob Delaney’s character Peter, Celine Dion music videos, hanging with Hugh Jackman, Tony Stark letters, Good Housekeeping ads, tattoo promotions at Brazil Comic-Con, livetweeting the Super Bowl, nods at the Disney-Fox merger, Espolòn tequila partnerships — every opportunity to bludgeon Deadpool’s name into our collective consciousness was taken. It was tiring.
That same intensity was used in the ridiculous number of pop culture references made in the actual film. Not a minute passed without some sort of meta nod to DC, Marvel, Disney, celebrities, a name drop, TV drop, movie drop, or song drop, and barely 20 minutes into the sequeI I wanted to scream at the screen like Tony Stark to Spider-Man in Avengers: Infinity War: “NO MORE POP CULTURE REFERENCES!”
It was too much, especially considering the comic books don’t seem to go that far. I have yet to read every Deadpool title but before seeing the sequel I had managed to devour both the Dark Reign and Secret Invasion comic books, neither of which featured anywhere near as many pop culture references as Deadpool 2 does.
Maybe if the writers spent a little more time working on the plot structure rather than trying to set up too many jokes, the final film would have proven a worthy follow-up to the original. Instead, we got practically two hours of navel-gazing and the realization that this isn’t a Deadpool movie — it's a Ryan Reynolds movie.
Reynolds isn't the first actor to become synonymous with a role, especially in the superhero genre. Certainly, anyone else playing Wolverine or Tony Stark would be an unnecessary shock to the system. The same goes for Deadpool, and Reynolds is perfectly cast. But while there is at least a separation between Robert Downey, Jr. and Hugh Jackman with their Marvel alter egos, the same can't really be said for Reynolds.
He has instead allowed the hype (and well-deserved hype it is) overwhelm him, letting Deadpool break the fourth wall into his public life. The references to Green Lantern and X-Men Origins: Wolverine isn't a nod to Deadpool, but Reynolds. We get it, Ryan. Your outing as Hal Jordan was bad. Your first iteration of Wade Wilson was a joke. We know.
Obviously, Deadpool 2 has done well at the box office and a lot of the critics don't share my sentiments, but we're heading into peak superhero territory and the genre may well enter a fatigue phase. There's no need to exacerbate it with another film that seems to spend more time focusing more on Reynolds than Wilson and going overboard on the self-deprecation instead of telling a good story.
Approach Deadpool 3 with a fresh pair of eyes and focus on storytelling rather than rehashing Reynolds' IMDb page. Trust that the audience will watch the movie without the weekly onslaught of Deadpool-related viral content. Keep the pop culture references down and make room for better dialogue to drive the narrative forward with more focus on the brilliant new characters like Zazie Beetz's Domino.
Deadpool is one of the freshest Marvel characters to grace the big screen. Don't let us get tired of him before he's really had a chance to thrive.