Deadpool’s primary super-power — other than his big mouth — is his uncanny ability to heal. Cut him in half and he’ll grow new legs. Blow him up and he’ll pull himself back together. He wins fights not with brute force or incredible speed but by relentlessly outlasting them. He grinds down his opponents until they yield out of sheer exhaustion, a feeling I understood intimately by the end of Deadpool 2, which irritated me, frustrated me — and, eventually, entertained me more than the original Deadpool.

If you’re not a hardcore fan of Deadpool, or of Ryan Reynolds’ quippy performance as the character, the opening scenes will be very rough going. Reynolds’ Wade Wilson has it all: The girl of his dreams (Morena Baccarin’s Vanessa) and a happy life traveling the world as a mercenary who does extremely stabby, shooty things to bad people. Then an even more shooty (though significantly less stabby) mercenary from the future named Cable (Josh Brolin) shows up in Deadpool’s life, and begins causing trouble. He wants to kill a teenager named Rusty (Julian Dennison), an innocent mutant with fire powers, because of a vague threat he poses to Cable’s future. Deadpool feels a kinship with Rusty and decides to protect him, which puts him at odds with Cable.

20th Century Fox

With his energy shield, gigantic guns, robotic arm and comics-accurate costume covered in many, many pouches, Cable has Deadpool beat on every possible level. So Wade recruits a team to help him. There’s Domino (Zazie Beetz), who has incredible powers of luck; Zeitgeist (Bill Skarsgard), who can spit acid; Shatterstar (Lewis Tan), who has a ponytail or whatever, and Bedlam (Terry Crews) who, like, causes bedlam. Also, there’s Peter (Rob Delaney) a slightly chubby dude in khakis with no powers whatsoever who answered Deadpool’s want ad because he needed a job. Together they are: X-Force. They’re like the Avengers, only most of them totally suck.

The best thing in either Deadpool movie is the part of the sequel where our anti-hero assembles this team of losers and then sends them out into the field. As you might expect, things do not go according to plan. X-Force’s introduction leads directly into Deadpool 2’s best action scene, a long chase and fight where Cable tries to kill Rusty while Deadpool and the rest of X-Force try to rescue him from a big prisoner transport truck. There’s some fun jokes, solid action, a few surprising twists and turns, and a terrific sequence where we see Domino’s “luck” in action, which is about as clever a superpower showcase as any in a comic-book movie since the first time we saw Quicksilver run in X-Men: Days of Future Past.

The moment X-Force shows up, Deadpool 2 finds a groove it manages to stay in for the rest of its runtime. The fight sequences aren’t as good as director David Leitch’s previous work like Atomic Blonde and the John Wick movies, but it’s better than the standard superhero fare, with enough clever touches to keep things interesting. (Way back in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Deadpool was introduced slicing bullets out of the air with his swords. This time he tries the same trick on Cable, who just shoots faster and riddles him with holes.)

Fox

Of Reynolds’ performance in the first Deadpool I wrote: “A generous admirer could describe him as ‘pure id.’ A less appreciative viewer might go with ‘the most obnoxious movie character ever.’ They would both be correct.” Nothing has changed this time around, except Reynolds has a better supporting cast around him. Beetz carries herself with real superhero swagger, and Dennison brings surprising depth to what initially looks like a standard kid-in-peril role. Plus, Brolin’s Cable is so incredibly gruff (“You sure you’re not from the DC Universe?” Reynolds cracks) that he’s the perfect foil for motormouthed Deadpool.

Leitch and writers Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, and Ryan Reynolds try to shoehorn in a half-hearted anti-violence message that is among the funniest (and most hypocritical) things in Deadpool 2. (You gleefully bask in the slaughter of dozens, then try to suggest that there’s a “better way” than killing someone who did something awful to you? Yeah no.) Still, there’s some genuine warmth in the end of this film, and it works a lot better than it should. As Deadpool 2unfolds, we come to see that beneath the wisecracks, it is very sincerely about the importance of family in everyone’s lives. Deadpool talks tough and mostly works alone, but he realizes he needs other people to keep him sane. We need them too, if only to tell Deadpool to shut up every once in a while.

Additional Thoughts:
-Despite the ongoing controversy around T.J. Miller, his character remains very prominently featured in Deadpool 2. The movie doesn’t even make a joke about his various scandals and court cases, something a fourth-wall breaking hero like Deadpool is uniquely equipped to do. For a character who’s supposedly so fearless and edgy, that’s a disappointment.

-There’s only one post-credits scene (at least that I saw) but it’s probably the funniest post-credits scene ever.

-I can’t even believe I’m writing this but ... I really want to see the X-Force movie.

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