Well damn, what do I do now?
By this point I have the formula for these X-Men review worked out like, well, a formula. A brief look at the history of the characters and storylines that inspired the movie in question, a few thousand words of recounting the plot with a couple of puerile gags masquerading as legitimate film criticism, wrap up, score, bing bang boom.
But goddamn, I do not want to talk about Cable and X Force.
Obligatory disclaimer: No bad characters. Only bad writers. Yes, there have been good Cable stories. Yes, I have enjoyed those stories. Yadda yadda yadda.
But ultimately Cable is not so much a character as an icon. You know, like a bio-hazard sign. He’s the perfect poster child for everything that was just plain bad about the X-Men universe specifically and comics more broadly in the nineties. Masculinity exaggerated and distorted to the point of unwitting caricature. A backstory as incoherent as it is overly complicated. An emphasis on violence and “ends justifies the means” morality that walks riiiight up to the line of outright fascism. Guns, guns, guns. Pouches pouches pouches. Hell, considering Cable’s central role in fuelling the Comics Speculator Bubble it’s fair to say that this character very nearly killed Marvel comics.
But okay, quick and dirty history of X-Force and Cable. By the early eighties, the X-Men comic book had gone from a weird little also-ran to a sales powerhouse under the creative direction of writer Chris Claremont and artist John Byrne. I’m actually currently in the middle of reading the entire X-Men run in order and, having gotten to this era I can confirm that, yeah, it absolutely lives up to its reputation. But by this point the X-Men had drifted pretty far from its original conception as a school for mutants. The main cast were almost entirely adults and, apart from the fact that they were mutants and therefore faced increased suspicion and prejudice from the normies, they were just a standard superhero team not much different from the Avengers or the Fantastic Four. Marvel editor-in-chief Jim Shooter ordered Claremont to create a new team of young mutants and he came up with the New Mutants. Story goes, Professor Xavier is in mourning for the death of the X-Men (don’t worry, didn’t take) and gets guilted by his ex into recruiting a new team of teenage mutants. The New Mutants was a moody, introspective little book with a cast of emotionally damaged teens learning to cope with depression, trauma and isolation. And then Rob Liefeld took it over and turned it into X-Force, a book about a rip-off Terminator trying to prevent the future by shooting it in the face
So when in the stinger of Deadpool where Deadpool’s all “Guess what, CABLE’s going to be in the next one!”? Personally, my reaction was:
So Deadpool 2 opens with Wade blowing himself to literal pieces as a fuck you to Logan and boys, boys, please. You’re the only two good parts of this franchise left, don’t fight. We flashback to a few weeks ago and see Wade living his best life, cutting a bloody swathe through global crime by day and returning to his lady love at night. On their anniversary, he gives her a skee-ball token. I do know what that is. We don’t have skee-ball in Ireland, nor its tokens. I’m sure it’s very fun.
Vanessa, the best girlfriend with the worst tattoos in movie history, tells him that she’s taken out her IUD and it’s time to try for a baby. Wade is overjoyed despite his misgivings about being a Dad due to his hellish, clown-porn saturated upbringing. But over the course of the next two hours the movie explores Wade Wilson recovering his sense of self-respect and worth as he embarks on the greatest superhero adventure of all: FATHERHOOD.
Nah, just kidding. They fridge Vanessa in the first ten minutes.
After killing the guy who killed Vanessa (I don’t know if the police actually exist in this universe), Wade sinks into a deep depression, traumatised by the loss of his one true love and the awful realisation that Do You Want To Build a Snowman? is just a rip-off of Poppa Can you Hear Me? from Yentl.
He visits Blind Al who offers her sympathies and tells him that we can’t really live until we’ve died a little and he decides to take that literally, after snorting all the cocaine he hid from her along with the cure for blindness.
This brings us back to speed with the opening scene and Wade blows himself to pieces. He sees a vision of Vanessa in the afterlife but she tells him he can’t join her because his heart “isn’t in the right place”.
He wakes up in the X-Mansion where Colossus tells him that the time has come for him to finally join the X-Men. Wade resists at first and wanders around the (as always) empty mansion bemoaning that the studio once again refused to pony up for any more mutants…only for the movie to very pointedly show us just how much money its predecessor made.
Colossus tells Wade that he has a good heart with a four figure body count and that it belongs here, with all these vulnerable teens. Wade takes that as a sign, and agrees to join the X-Men like in the comics. Unlike in the comics, he does not then decide to wear Jean Grey’s old Marvel Girl costume.
Meanwhile, sometime in the future (which, lemme see, McAvoy’s still Xavier sooo…2003?), Cable wakes up in the smouldering ruins of his home and finds that his wife and daughter have been char-broiled. Suitably motivated, he takes his daughter’s teddy bear and travels back in time to pre-emtpively kill the villain who destroyed his life, APOC…wait, fucking Firefist?!
What? Did they just throw a dart at a wall of names?
Well anyway, back in the present, the X-Men are called out to the Essex Home for Mutant Rehabilitation where a teenage mutant named Randall has gone berserk and is locked in a standoff with the police (oh, so they DO exist in this universe). Randall (played excellently by Julian Dennison) tells him his name is “Firefist” which leads to Wade making a load of fisting jokes (aaaaaaah, now it makes sense) and then knocking the kid out. The Headmaster (Eddie Marsan) thanks Wade and tells him that the school can take it from here but, to his shock, the kid begs to be sent to the Icebox, a high-security prison for mutants. Realising that the kid’s been abused, Deadpool shoots one of the staff and ends up getting arrested. Which, considering the number of people he’s murdered with zero consequence must have come as quite a shock.
Russell and Wade are taken to the Icebox and fitted with power-dampening collars, which is a bummer for Wade because one of his super powers is “not dying from cancer” and it’s kind of central to his whole motif. Cable attacks the prison to kill Russell before he can grow up to be FIREFIST, SCARIEST VILLAIN OF ALL TIME and Wade tries to defend the kid, getting his collar broken in the process. Cable beats Deadpool to a pulp and reveals that he’s from the future where dubstep is no longer a thing (and you thought Mad Max was bleak). He takes Wade’s skee-ball token, apparently for no other reason than to be a dick, and asks Wade why he’s defending the kid, and Wade pretends that he doesn’t care about Russell at all just as Russell walks in which is totes awks and also very traumatising for a young vulnerable teen who’s been betrayed by every adult in his life thus far. Deadpool blows one of Cable’s grenades which lets him escape the prison but also nearly kills him. Once again in the afterlife, he begs Vanessa to be let in but he still can’t cross over.
Deadpool realises that he needs to save Russell and resolves to break the kid out of jail. Fortunately, nobody seems to be looking for him because the justice system in these movies works the same as in the GTA games. If a cop doesn’t literally see you murder someone in front of their noses, you might as well be invisible.
Deadpool heads back to his old friend Weasel’s bar and they put together a new superhero team, X-Force (boooooo!) so they can be summarily killed off in hilarious ways (yay!). And here the movie flaunts its big-budget balls by getting Brad Pitt to play the Vanisher, a character with no lines and who is only visible onscreen for less than a second. The only members of X-Force that Wade (and, indeed, we the audience) actually cares about are Domino (Zazie Beetz), a woman with the power of luck and Peter, a man with the power to just be a nice, chill dude. They try to bust Russell out of a prison-transfer convoy by parachuting on to it from above but, because Deadpool forgot to account for the wind, they all die horribly with the exception of Domino and Deadpool.
Cable shows up and we get a gun battle on a speeding prison van that would have been completely out of the question on the first movie’s budget. Unfortunately, ever since Deadpool abandoned him, Russell has gotten himself a new Daddy. Oh yeah, you know who I’m talking about.
As part of this movie’s mission to fix every damn shitty thing Fox did to these characters we finally, FINALLY get a version of Juggernaut that does justice to the character. As Juggernaut and Deadpool face off, we actually see a demonstration of just how Domino’s luck powers actually work, which mainly seems to consist of her not doing dumb shit.
Anyway, as anyone who’s read Juggernaut’s Top Trumps card can tell you, Deadpool’s way out of his weight class and Juggernaut literally tears Wade in two and then he and Russell go to get revenge on the abusive headmaster.
Back in Blind Al’s apartment, Deadpool is growing a new pair of disgusting baby legs when Cable shows up and asks for his help, explaining that in the future Russell will grow up to be a psychotic mass murderer. Wade wants to save the kid and put him on the right path, so he tells Cable that he’ll help him as long as Cable gives him a chance to try and talk Russell down.
So Deadpool, Domino, Cable, Colossus and Dopinder (who’s gotten a taste for murder ever since he killed Bandhu in the first film) roll up to the orphanege and pretty much everyone gets some real good use out of the R-Rating. Deadpool tries to talk Russell out of killing the headmaster and apologises for leaving him alone in the Ice Box. He gives Russell a hug and it almost looks like he’s reached the kid but Russell blasts him and tells him that he can’t trust anyone any more. Out of ideas, Deadpool puts on one of the power dampening collars and tells Russell that if he wants to kill anyone, he’s going to have to kill him. Cable takes the shot and Deadpool leaps in front of the bullet, sacrificing his life for Russell’s. After a death scene which he milks for everything it’s worth because of course he does, Deadpool dies and is reunited with Vanessa in the afterlife.
Russell is so moved by his sacrifice that he decides that murder is not cool and this changes history so that Cable’s family were never killed (the movie deals with the obvious grandfather paradox this creates by totally ignoring it and you probably should too).
In gratitude, Cable uses the last charge of his time travel device to go back and place Vanessa’s skee-ball token in Deadpool’s chest pocket which blocks the bullet and saves his life, meaning we are still on for a trilogy.
So here we are, people. With the Fox X-Men movies definitively concluded it turns out that the most consistently excellent, faithful, artistically justified and emotionally sincere subset of movies in this whole thing starred frickin’ Deadpool.
Negasonic and her girlfriend Yukio repair Cable’s time travel device and give it to Wade who then goes back in time and saves Vanessa’s life. He then goes back and saves Peter’s life, but pointedly does not save Bedlam, Vanisher, Zeitgeist or Shatterstar.
He THEN travels back in time to Wolverine Origin and shoots the mute version of himself in front of Hugh Jackman just like I always fantasised, and then FINALLY goes back and shoots Ryan Reynolds before he can make Green Lantern.
And the audience went
This stinger made me feel like a dirty, dirty slut and I loved it.
Hey, was that Stan Lee?
That was Stan Lee, sort of. He appears as one of the busts in the X-Mansion.
Department of Duplication Department
Okay, so Yukio is played by Shioli Kutsuna in Deadpool 2 but the character was previously played by Rila Fukushima in The Wolverine.
How worried is Guinan right now?
Guina said some real dumn shit about the Holocaust and is currently suspended.
Wait, Magneto is how old?
We see James McAvoy as Xavier which means Magneto is currently who fucking knows when this is set or how fucking old Magneto fucking is.
Mutant Heaven has no pearly gates, only revolving doors.
Deadpool resurrects twice, Vanessa once.
Today, mutants are…
An out-dated analogy for…I mean, today mutants are at-risk youth in the foster care system.
This movie is…
Dead on Arrival
NEXT UPDATE: 04 March 2022
NEXT TIME: What do you MEAN his Dad’s not Fu Manchu in this version?!