From its very first scene, Deadpool 2 sets itself up as Logan with a Deadpool-style twist. Are the stories really that different from each other?
We knew Deadpool 2 was going to be irreverent and surprising, but we didn’t expect things to get as emotional as they did (or Domino to be so frickin’ amazing). Neither did we expect Wade to make such a point of getting back at Logan, the 2017 movie that premiered a year after the first Deadpool film — and according to Wade, effectively upstaged him.
Because yeah, both films were outliers in their genre, not only for their R-rating but also for the weight of the themes discussed and the intensity of the violence. And both, in their own ways, have paved the way for more creative superhero storytelling.
So if Wade wants to pit himself against Logan through Deadpool 2, let’s analyze the similarities and differences between both movies, and just how well they complement each other (spoiler alert: they do it very well).
Spoilers for Deadpool 2 below.
Grief and loss
Deadpool 2 didn’t pull any punches. After the relief of seeing Vanessa come back at the end of the first movie, her abrupt and very detailed death at the beginning of this film was absolutely heartbreaking.
Logan, though perhaps less explicit when it comes to explaining the reasons behind Logan’s grief, had similar elements. Logan’s weariness as he works, fights and takes care of Charles bleeds through in a very visceral way. Like with Wade, grief informs every choice he makes in the movie, and it’s the framework around which everything else that happens in the film is shaped.
But unlike Logan, Deadpool 2 manages to weave comedy into the grief in a very effective way. If this were any other movie, the subsequent jokey opening credits probably would have felt tone-deaf, but because of the movie’s own self-awareness — and the gut-wrenching realism of Reynolds’ portrayal of a grieving Wade — it works.
Grief and loss kept Logan from becoming any other Wolverine film, and it grounded Deadpool 2, which otherwise would have just been a random collection of funny moments. It proves just how much power well-executed tragedies can have in cinema, be it superhero movies or comedies or both: they can propel character development forward, and make any story meaningful.
Wade’s dream of fatherhood is expressed early in the movie, as he makes plans with Vanessa to start a family. It’s a dream that’s shattered by her death, all the more because it was unexpected. We hadn’t even had the chance to contemplate what Wade would be like as a father — to imagine such a wholesome future for him.
Logan had no aspirations of fatherhood either, or indeed any sort of relationship. He was emotionally crippled, fearing any association to anyone, especially a child. And yet both he and Wade are suddenly thrust into a unique sort of fatherhood, through circumstance.
Both Wade and Logan find themselves responsible for the fates of children with dangerous powers who are being pursued by dangerous people. In both cases, they initially reject the children’s desire for a parental figure, but in both cases, when faced with a chance to turn away, they change their minds.
For two characters who are both male archetypes — revered in different ways, perhaps, but both displaying a degree of macho independence that gave them their following — the choice to have them confront fatherhood was a very interesting one. To both Wade and Logan, the prospect of parenting is both repulsive and secretly appealing. Fatherhood, then, represents an evolution for their characters: are they capable of being strong, heroic, snarky (in Wade’s case), and nurturing?
This choice in storytelling cements both Deadpool 2 and Logan as mature movies, even with Deadpool’s irreverent jokes. A hero is nothing if he cannot leave a legacy, and find the bearer of that legacy more worthy of life than himself.
The main difference between Logan and Deadpool 2’s handling of their heavy themes comes, funnily enough, in the same character moment: death.
Wade openly jokes about Logan’s selfish decision to die, since it made Logan beat Deadpool at the box office. Deadpool 2 is his way of getting back at him, by also dying… in the most overly-dramatic, drawn-out death scene of all time.
But while both characters sacrifice themselves for the child in their care, the choice has different meaning for Wade than it did for Logan. For Logan, it was a way of letting go of the grief that haunted him his entire life: a way of passing on the torch to the younger generations. After a long time playing Wolverine in the X-Men universe, it was his time to make way for a new kind of story.
Wade’s choice is in some ways simpler. Despite the loss of Vanessa, he is not completely alone; he’s spent the entire movie building a team, which has become a worthy reason to stay alive. His decision to sacrifice himself for Russell is out of love, which is why Cable sees fit to go back in time and avert his death, but it isn’t an inevitable occurrence. Neither is it the only way to end the story — while there are rumors that there might not be a third Deadpool movie, we’re still likely to get some kind of team-up in the future (Marvel won’t let him go so easily).
It’s fascinating to look at the parallels between these two films, and at how a character arc can be executed in different ways for two very different characters. Wade is almost the direct opposite from Logan, and yet in some ways, both he and Logan become similar people at the end of their stories.
But these similarities are also a testament to the originality of their characterization. We come away from Deadpool 2 with very different feelings than with Logan, and that’s a good thing. We need both kinds of films — both unapologetically radical and enjoyable in their own unique way.