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Why Deadpool 2 was the best superhero movie of 2018

There was no shortage of superheroes on the big screen in 2018. Black Panther killed it in February and Avengers: Infinity War killed just about everyone in April. Incredibles 2 reacquainted audiences with their favorite big screen super family in June, and Ant-Man & The Wasp reminded everyone that not all MCU flicks would crush their souls. In October, Venom disappointed critics but filled seats regardless. Finally, in December Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse introduced audiences to more versions of Spider-Man than the Maguire and Garfield films combined, and soon afterward Aquaman proved that DC's favorite Fish Man could make money.

In a year crowded with super-people, no one outshone the hilarious, bloody, and emotionally powerful Deadpool 2. Ryan Reynolds reprised his role as the Merc with a Mouth — and as promised in the Ferris-Bueller-inspired post-credits scene in 2016's Deadpool, he brought friends. We got Cable (Josh Brolin), Domino (Zazie Beetz), and the first big-screen iteration of X-Force. 

With an R rating and a killer soundtrack, Deadpool 2 was able to go places other superhero movies couldn't. It was a brilliant blend of unforgiving carnage, dark comedy, and drama. It had an amazing soundtrack, high stakes, featured what was possibly the greatest movie death scene ever, and was so freaking good it actually managed to partly redeem three horrible superhero films from recent years.  

For those reasons and more, here's why Deadpool 2 was the best superhero movie of 2018.

A perfect mixture

When you think of Deadpool 2, the first things that likely come to mind are the merciless humor, the unapologetic bloodiness, and of course the wonderful moments when the violence and the humor meet: Juggernaut tearing DP in half and effecting the bizarre teeny-legs version of Deadpool, the Merc with a Mouth trying his very first one-knee "superhero landing" and discovering it's not all it's cracked up to be, and who could forget how X-Force's mostly doomed lineup learned it's a bad idea to skydive during high wind advisories? 

Where Deadpool 2 truly proved itself superior to not only to its own predecessor, but to every other superhero movie in 2018, was a story of surprising emotion. We didn't need any more proof that Ryan Reynolds knows how to be funny, but the death of Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) and its aftermath proved Reynolds' acting chops. Everything about Wade Wilson's agony felt genuine, as did his brief time as an X-Men "trainee." One particularly brilliant moment in Deadpool 2 arrives when, after catching up to Vanessa's killer Sergei (Thayr Harris), Wade embraces him; fooling us for just a hair of a second that Wilson is going to spare him. Then Deadpool steps into traffic with Sergei still clung to him, killing Sergei and making his first in a series of futile attempts at guilt-ridden suicide. It's the most humorless moment in the film, and maybe the most perfect.

Making friends

Deadpool has a history of not being able to work or play well with others. But Deadpool 2 proved, among other things, that his reputation as being anything but lovable is a scandalous misrepresentation, bordering on the kind of thing that would warrant legal action.

The superhero flicks of 2018 had a lot of sympathetic villains, especially Black Panther's Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan). Deadpool 2 starts off with its own identifiable bad guy: Cable, the time-traveling cyborg who didn't seem to care at all about any of the collateral damage from his deadly pursuit of Rusty (Julian Dennison). Yet in spite of two bloody fights between Deadpool and Cable, the utter disdain Cable shows for DP throughout the film, and their ongoing disagreement regarding the musical value of dubstep, Deadpool wins Cable over. Cable actually sacrifices the chance be with his newly resurrected family in order to save Wade Wilson's life — suggesting that maybe he just loves Deadpool more.

Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), a world leader trained in diplomacy, couldn't get Killmonger to not want to kill everybody. The best T'Challa was able to do?  He got Kllmonger to let enough of his guard down to ask T'Challa to dump his corpse into the ocean. Wow. The Nobel is in the mail, Your Highness.

Deadpool did something none of 2018's other superheroes could do: he made peace. Like Jimmy Carter. Or Gandhi.

Ashes

The music from Deadpool 2 was a character all its own. From the brilliant use of Dolly Parton's "9 to 5" in the opening assassination montage — which, in the film's "Super-Duper Cut," was artfully interrupted so you can watch Wade Wilson chop yakuza to pieces while enjoying Enya's "Only Time" — to the profanity-riddled Juggernaut-inspired choir piece in the film's explosive climax that accompanied the X-Men's battle with the strongman. Even when the music wasn't playing it was flavoring the story, like Wade's revelation regarding the similarities between Yentl's "Papa Can You Hear Me?" and "Do You Want to Build a Snowman?" from Frozen.

But more than anything, there's Celine Dion's haunting "Ashes" accompanying Deadpool 2's opening credits — the video for which Deadpool himself showed up to film. It isn't like anything else you expect to hear in a Deadpool movie, and the lyrics perfectly reflect Wade Wilson's life in the aftermath of Vanessa's murder. "I've been bending backwards 'til I'm broke," Dion sings, and that's something Deadpool literally does when he falls off the prison catwalk while fighting Cable. "Can beauty come out of ashes?" her angelic voice asks. And Deadpool asks that question too. With guns.

And of course there's the obvious fact that the last time Celine Dion lent her voice to a blockbuster film, it was James Cameron's Titanic, which won about 96 Oscars. So just by association, Deadpool 2 should have taken home at least 16. 

The dead stay dead... mostly

The superhero body count of 2018 was pretty freaking high, particularly when it came to the last ten minutes or so of Avengers: Infinity War. Thanos' snap killed Spider-Man, Drax, Scarlet Witch, the guy with the wings, Sherlock Holmes, and just a whole bunch of people. But we all know they're coming back, right? Even before Avengers: Endgame arrived in theaters, we got a trailer for the next Spider-Man movie. As traumatic as all that dusting might have been at the time, it kind of loses its meaning when you know none of it is going to stick, doesn't it? 

This is where Deadpool 2 unquestionably surpasses Avengers: Infinity War. Now, before you get the pitchforks out, yes, we know Deadpool went back in the mid-credits scenes and resurrected Vanessa and Peter. But Bedlam? Vanisher? Shatterstar? Zeitgeist? They're all still dead. In fact, Ryan Reynolds said that one of the mid-credits scenes that was ultimately cut would have been a shot of Deadpool peeing on Shatterstar's grave. Think about that. Not only did Deadpool refrain from saving most of his teammates even though he had the ability to do it, but the original plan was to confirm the bulk of X-Force not making the resurrection cut by having the movie's hero violate one of their graves.

LGBTQ representation

Two months after Deadpool 2 was released in theaters, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige told The Playlist that at least two LGBTQ+ characters would be introduced to the MCU in the not-too-distant future. One would be a character audiences have already met, and the second would be brand new to the narrative. 

In the meantime, Deadpool 2 introduced audiences to the first "out" same-sex superhero couple in a major motion picture in the form of Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) and Yukio (Shioli Kutsuna). Not to mention the Merc himself was pretty handsy with Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) through most of the film. Ryan Reynolds has made it clear he likes that Deadpool's more mature world allows them to explore issues of sexual identity and that he wants to further explore Deadpool's sexuality in any future films. Fan favorite Deadpool comic book writer Gerry Duggan famously tweeted that Deadpool's romantic interests encompassed "anything with a pulse."

So we get hints and promises about more sexual and gender identity diversity in the MCU, and in Deadpool 2 they skipped all the more skittish steps and gave us a same-sex couple who kicked serious butt in the film's climax. And while DC'S CW properties have certainly given us a healthy spectrum of LGBTQ+ representation, in the movies we've got nothing. Even though one of their most successful big-screen superheroes grew up on an island literally populated only by women. 

Family Man

At the end of Deadpool 2's opening assassination montage, Wade's narration tells us that what we're watching is a family film. It's a tough notion to swallow what with the guy running around on fire and all the blood, but as the story unfolds, Wade's words prove true. Not only does Deadpool act as something of a father figure to Rusty — or, at least, a twisted older brother — but the film ends with the birth of X-Force: Wade's new family. 

Compare that to something like, say, Ant-Man & The Wasp. Were Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lily more family friendly? Sure. There was a lot less profanity in Ant-Man & The Wasp and far fewer dismemberments. But a family movie? Was Scott Lang more of a family man than Wade Wilson? 

Deadpool was about a kill-crazy mercenary who ultimately sacrifices everything to save the life of a wayward teenage boy who not only won't listen to him, but totally does that whole rope-pulling mime thing right after Juggernaut (Ryan Reynolds — yeah, did you know he voiced Juggsy?) rips Wade in half. Ant-Man & The Wasp is about a lonely burglar who risks not only disappointing his daughter, but losing the chance to ever see her again just so he can run around with the woman from Lost while they're both in skintight outfits. No wonder he's always shrinking. He doesn't want anyone to see his shame.

The selfless redeemer

Most movies are selfish. That's right. We said it. Selfish. Did Avengers: Infinity War try to be the best movie it could be? Sure. But did it do anything to redeem Iron Man 2? Or Incredible Hulk? Or Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol? Of course not. Infinity War only cared about Infinity War. Like a jerk. 

But Deadpool 2Deadpool 2 was so amazing it not only was great on its own, it had enough greatness left over to redeem other movies. That's right. There was so much awesome in Deadpool 2, they had a surplus. So they shared. 

First on the list was a partial fix for the heartbreaking badness of 2006's X-Men: The Last Stand. Wade couldn't de-stinkify everything, but he did redeem the great villain Juggernaut. Deadpool 2 gave fans a huge CGI-rendered version of the character, voiced by Ryan Reynolds (who looked and sounded exactly as Marvel's most intimidating thug should), helping us all recover from when Vinnie Jones stole Ram Man's helmet and got owned by Kitty Pryde. 

And of course who can forget the partial damage control the movie effected on X-Men Origins: Wolverine by jumping back in time to murder Hollywood's first horrible attempt at adapting Wade Wilson, as well as murdering his real world alternate before he could make the emerald disaster known as 2011's Green Lantern.

Best. Death Scene. Ever.

Paul Reubens in 1992's Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Clancy Brown in 2018's The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. Phil LaMarr in 1994's Pulp Fiction. Are we listing the greatest death scenes of all time? Obviously. But none can compare to the long, repetitive, awkward brilliance of Wade Wilson's death scene in Deadpool 2

Having taken the bullet meant for Rusty, with a power dampener clamped on his neck so he couldn't heal, Deadpool suffers a slow death and everyone suffers with him. Clearly not knowing what to say or do, Wade's new makeshift family stand helplessly around the Merc with a Mouth as his life slowly trickles away. And trickles. And trickles. And you get the distinct feeling all the shots of Colossus and Rusty and the rest of them are actually on a loop as the scene just gets longer and longer. Wade says his heartbreaking farewells to everyone, eventually settling into an empty gaze toward the heavens that ultimately proves to not be his death gaze because the jerk starts talking again. It just keeps going and going until finally Marvel's most bloodthirsty mercenary passes away to the same music Wolverine died to in Logan.

Eat your heart out Peter Parker. Wade didn't even need CGI. 

Real superheroes are rated R

Obviously, Deadpool isn't the only superhero on the big screen who's willing to get his hands dirtier than Captain America or Batman. His rival Wolverine's never been shy about bloodletting; he's just too busy growling incoherently to tell jokes while he does it. And of course 2018 brought sometimes villain, sometimes anti-hero Venom to the world of big-screen superheroes. And he arrived… PG-13.

Really? Venom… eats people. Literally. 

Deadpool kills people. Venom kills people. Deadpool kills people with guns and knives and bagel spreaders. Venom eats people. For killing people in horrible ways with weapons like a sane person, Deadpool is rated R. And Venom — starring a cannibal from outer space — is PG-13? Being an ultraviolent superhero is considered safe enough for the viewing of 13-year-olds, as long as the violent superhero in question doesn't leave anything on his plate?

Forget sales and forget reviews. In the question of Deadpool 2 vs. Venom, the winner is clearly Deadpool 2, if for no other reason than its filmmakers didn't just turn the camera every time Deadpool killed someone just to keep things kid-friendly. 

Well. Not until they did Once Upon A Deadpool, but that's a whole other kettle of dismembered fingers.

God save the Merc

It's been close to 250 years since America declared itself free from its European masters. Yet still, like a spurned lover pretending we don't miss our ex, we worship kings and queens. The superhero fare of 2018 was a perfect example. With Black Panther in February and Aquaman in December, 2018 was bookended with superheroes who doubled as tyrannical throwbacks to times when your status was determined solely by your DNA. Aquaman (Jason Momoa) is only a threat to the bad guys because — in spite of completely forsaking his people — he had the right mom. Not only is T'Challa king because, like Captain Fishface, he had the right parents, but M'Baku (Winston Duke) and later Killmonger are allowed to challenge T'Challa's claim to the throne only because they are also of royal blood.

Deadpool is no king. He doesn't fight for his loved ones because his dad left him a throne (much less a throne in an underwater kingdom — what's the point, wouldn't you just float away?), and he can't snap his fingers and make an army of Dora Milaje appear to fight for him. Deadpool is a hard-working, blue collar, honest, tax-paying (?) American mass murder who supports local businesses, including cab drivers (or he would if he ever paid them). Deadpool isn't the hero for a make-believe kingdom under the sea where everyone has long hair even though the CGI really can't render it properly. Deadpool is our hero. 

Kill all superheroes

One thing Deadpool does better than any other big-budget superhero star out there is cut the legs out from under the very notion of superheroes. Sure, he likes to make fun. There's the ongoing "superhero landing" gag, his frustratingly one-sided rivalry with Hugh Jackman and all things Wolverine, and the various Deadpool filmmakers also gave us the gift of Colossus. Whether he's giving corny speeches or just unintentionally setting up Wade for some classic off-color comebacks, a man of steel has never been such a man of straw. 

But Deadpool does more than poke fun and list pop culture references. Wade Wilson mercilessly points out the hypocrisies and pure stupidities of other superheroes. When Wade finally breaks character after killing one of the Essex School aides who was abusing Rusty, he yells at Colossus, "I fight for what's right, and sometimes you gotta fight dirty!" Likewise, in the first movie, Deadpool interrupts Colossus' self-righteous speech by shooting Ajax (Ed Skrein) in the head. Was he right to murder the bad guy after he was already beaten? Maybe not. But Ajax won't be showing up 12 more times to murder twice as many people. 

Just one merc

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse wasn't just one of the best superhero movies of 2018, it was one of the most purely enjoyable movies of the year, period. It was funny, it was action-packed, and it finally brought Parker successor Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) to the big screen. It's tough to find ways to trash it, and we have no desire to. However, there is one way in which Deadpool 2 is clearly superior — it didn't engage in false advertising. 

In other words, the movie's called Spider-Man and it isn't a Spider-Man movie. We're not criticizing Miles — we're saying it was a Spider-Men film. Or, more accurately, Spider-People. There was SP//dr and Spider-Gwen and Spider-Man Noir and a Spider-Pig for Pete's (literally) sake. They had so many Spider People, they let Nicolas Cage voice one of them. 

How many Deadpools were in Deadpool 2? Just one. In fact, after Juggernaut ripped him apart, there was half a Deadpool. Wade didn't need 18 different versions of himself from alternate realities to get the job done. He didn't need a Deadpool Noir and a Vanessa-Pool and a Gopher-Pool. Sure, he had teammates, but unlike Spider-Man he didn't demand they all use his name. Spider-Man: Let some of your buddies have their own names. Reading a character list for Into the Spider-Verse is like reading the names of all of George Foreman's kids.