Extra, Extra: DEADPOOL 2

The Merc with a Mouth is back and has brought hours of bonus features along with him.

As sales of physical discs (Blu-ray and DVD) decline, the idea of bonus features becomes less and less essential for new, mainstream films. There will always be a market for library titles with extensive retrospective commentaries and documentaries (see: Criterion, Scream Factory, etc), but for new films it's a dying trend. "Extra, Extra" is an attempt to encourage the studios not to give up on us disc champions, by mostly skipping over the film itself (which you can find reviews for anywhere) and focusing on the bonus features they were kind enough to include. Viva la physical media!

For Deadpool 2, Fox spent nearly double what they did on the first movie and came up around $50m short of its take, but they also launched it in a more competitive period (May instead of February) and didn't have the novelty working for it this time around, so they should be happy. Folks seemed to really like or even prefer the sequel, as it expanded the cast in winning ways (Zazie Beetz's Domino instantly became a top 5 character in the cinematic X-verse) and proved that the original was no fluke, even with a somewhat controversial director replacement. The stories of why the original's Tim Miller left keep varying, but with the same screenwriting team and John Wick's David Leitch bringing his considerable talents with action and stuntwork to the table, this did not feel like a rushed or "troubled" film - it was just a damn fun two hours at the movies. 

And now you can spend more time enjoying yourself, as the Blu-ray contains not only a longer cut of the film that restores 15 minutes' worth of deleted or alternate footage, but hours of bonus features that ensures you'll be sick of seeing Ryan Reynolds and Josh Brolin if you opt to watch it all in one sitting. You can also get it on 4K, and in fact you might as well spring for that version even if you don't have a 4K set up yet but plan to upgrade in the future, as the set not only includes standard Blu-rays of everything, but that's where all of the bonus features are. The 4-disc set has two 4K discs, one with each cut of the movie, but all of the supplements (save the commentary, which is only present on the theatrical cut) are on the Blu-ray. It's probably to ensure that as much of the disc's "bit budget" goes toward the feature, but it's kind of annoying that if you watch the film on 4K you'll have to switch discs around if you want to just watch the gag reel or something once the movie is over. 

But at least you get the commentary on that disc, and it's a pretty amusing one. Leitch, Reynolds, and screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick are obviously a tight unit and spend a good amount of time cracking jokes with one another, giving the track a breezy tone that never dips into dry/technical territory. There are occasional silences, but never long enough to assume that the studio got cold feet about something they were saying and excised a chunk for legal reasons - it's probably because they just started watching the movie. It was recorded three weeks before the film's release (hey, why weren't they supporting Brolin in Avengers: Infinity War?) and more than once they are seeing certain FX - such as Deadpool's head being smashed against that rock - for the first time, so it's understandable that they might kind of zone out on their commentary duties. Unsurprisingly they talk a lot about the script and why it was important to give the movie an emotional center, heap praise on their actors (well, most of them - they're smart enough to more or less remain quiet on TJ Miller), and point out a few random Easter Eggs, such as the Stan Lee mural they pass by during the big truck chase. I wouldn't say it was an essential track by any means, but it's certainly enjoyable, and I'm glad I know why Reynolds' laugh sounds so weird when he meets "Firefist" (the smoke from everything Russell had already burned up was starting to mess him up after hours of shooting).

They also mention the longer cut of the film a few times, making me wonder why they didn't just do the commentary for that one, or at least have something in there to explain/justify the changes. Despite being the big draw on the cover, with "SUPER DUPER [email protected]%!#& CUT" taking up just as much real estate as "DEADPOOL 2", the long cut is almost like a throwaway in the set itself, placed behind the theatrical discs and, again, completely supplement-free (the discs themselves are also mocked up to resemble DVD-Rs). As much as I wanted to see the new version, I had to watch the theatrical cut first so I would be able to spot the smaller changes, as my three month old memory would not have sufficed for everything (and even still, I had to consult an online list of all the differences, as some are simply mild changes to a line, such as "Let's get a taco" becoming "Let's get a bagel"). At any rate, as with most long cuts, some of the changes are for the better, some not. The biggest/best differences come early on, as we get a couple of scenes with Russell at the school prior to Deadpool meeting him, so that this major subplot doesn't just come out of nowhere as it did in the theatrical version. I get the argument that we shouldn't know any more than Deadpool (especially given the meta nature of his character), but I still prefer having a little bit of context for both Russell and Eddie Marsan's villainous headmaster, who was introduced more or less in the background in the theatrical cut since his real intro was excised. 

We also get a longer introduction to Cable when he lands near the two rednecks played by Matt Damon and Alan Tudyk in unbilled (and in Damon's case, unrecognizable) cameos, and a funny scene of Wade trying really hard to be a civil addition to the X-Mansion. However, nearly everything after the scene where he and Russell first meet is unnecessary, such as a throwaway bit where Russell takes Juggernaut to the mall to try to find some matching clothes for them to wear, and a painful joke from Weasel about John Wick 3 having both original directors. They also change a lot of the music cues for some reason, like using Steve Miller Band's "Fly Like An Eagle" instead of "Welcome to the Party" when the team begins running toward the school for the big showdown, and an acoustic version of Celine Dion's (admittedly kind of great) "Ashes" during the reunion in "heaven" with Vanessa, replacing the far more fitting "Take On Me" in the theatrical. There's a great little bit with Domino fighting Juggernaut in the playground, but otherwise I'd say as soon as Deadpool meets Russell, switch over to the theatrical version for an overall superior time.

Curiously, the only deleted scenes (again, with no one on board to discuss their removal) are extended bits from scenes that are only in the longer cut. I find it unlikely that they had nothing else that got scrapped along the way, but at any rate, you get a longer version of Deadpool at the zoo during a Groundhog Day-esque montage of suicide attempts (in the theatrical version we just see him try to blow himself up, but in the long cut he lets himself get eaten by pandas, jumps off a building, etc.) and more of the infamous "killing Baby Hitler" scene that was originally included in the post-credits sequence. It goes on too long and isn't particularly funny even in its shorter form on the longer cut of the film, so it's even less amusing here, making the "deleted scenes" section a big ol' waste of time in my opinion. Ditto for the gag reel, though I rarely find much interest in these things anyway, so I guess your mileage may vary. 

Things get better with "Deadpool Family Values: Cast of Characters", which shines a spotlight on Deadpool's "family". They all seem to understand that Deadpool making jokes for two hours would be exhausting if they didn't surround him with real characters like Vanessa and Blind Al, who are joined this time by Russell, Domino, and even Cable, who spends the first two acts as an antagonist but joins the team and even saves DP's life, i.e. the kind of thing that makes the movie work. Most amusing, each character is talked about by the writers (including Rob Liefeld, who created a number of these people), the other actors, and/or Leitch, but when it comes to TJ Miller's Weasel, the only one with anything to say is...TJ Miller. But they don't sweep him under the rug as much as they could have; he actually kicks off "David Leitch Not Lynch", which is a look at Leitch's work on the film, including a revelation that he wasn't sure about taking on the film, as he was used to creating his own universes (i.e. John Wick) and didn't want to go into someone else's playground. But he obviously changed his mind, and over 11 minutes we see him at work, both planning out stunts and other action and also working with actors, tossing out alternate lines to Reynolds and such. He clearly took the job seriously and didn't just use the film as an excuse to showcase his stunt buddies' skills (he even stresses that he wasn't interested in a "save the world" kind of storyline), though Marsan pops up to note that Leitch keeps killing him (he was also in Atomic Blonde) and he wishes he'd stop doing that, heh.

"Lips Are Sealed" is a fun piece about the film's attempt to keep its storyline a secret so that people would be surprised, i.e. the fact that Deadpool's first team all gets killed within seconds of starting their first mission. But even those actors had to be secretive that they were even in the film; Bill "Zeitgeist" Skarsgard notes that his agent didn't even really know what he was doing in the film, and Rob "Peter" Delaney says he was unable to even get his script pages in advance. One funny anecdote even involves Slash, who stopped by the set and took pics with some of the crew, inadvertently spoiling one of the film's surprises when a sharp-eyed fan noticed the Juggernaut mockup in the background on one of the pics posted to social media (and yes, they admit Reynolds provided the voice for the all CGI character). We also get some history on the surprise cameos from Damon and Brad Pitt, which turned out to basically amount to little more than Reynolds and Leitch straight up asking those people if they wanted to do it and getting a quick "yes". Bonus: Alan Tudyk was cast because Wernick is such a fan of Tucker and Dale Vs Evil! Curiously, when they discus background easter eggs, they don't actually explain them - they note that Reynolds wants to pack every frame with something for fans to notice, but don't even give a specific example. As someone who doesn't read the comics, they'll likely all go over my head forever, but oh well.

Then there's "Until Your Face Hurts", which is a tribute to Reynolds, Miller, etc and their penchant for offering any number of options for a given punchline (in fact, I'd say at least half the changes for the longer cut are just different lines in otherwise unchanged scenes). Reynolds notes that it's not "improv" and that they're all written beforehand so that he can come to set with options rather than try to come up with something on the fly, but we also see footage on set of actors trying things and even suggesting things to one another. They also note that there's not much difference between Reynolds' and Deadpool's sense of humor, making it easy for the writers to write as they have his voice in their heads. And Brolin chimes in, noting how it was a bit unusual for him as he's done comedies but nothing like this and wasn't sure if he could join in the collaborative fun, but found his groove quickly enough. Basically, of all the pieces, this is the one that will make you wish you could be on set of a Deadpool movie.

Next up is "Roll With the Punches", which focuses on Leitch and his stunt team, 87eleven. While the film still obviously has a number of visual FX, Leitch is a fan of practical, in-camera action and we get plenty of behind the scenes footage of achieving those things, a lot of it figured out in pre-viz so they knew exactly what they would need, where they'd have to use CG, etc. It's also evident that the actors did many of their own stunts (even Reynolds, who between the makeup as Wade and the mask as Deadpool, could have easily gotten out of it), with footage of poor Brolin (age: 50) being yanked around on wires like a rag doll. The next piece, "The Deadpool Prison Experiment" is ostensibly about the creation of the film's prison set where a chunk of the film's second act takes place, but eventually turns its attention to stunts again, making me wonder why these two weren't just combined and/or a separate piece on production design wasn't put together.
The rest of the featurettes are jokey and short. We get a look at Rob Delaney's Peter, another with the actor playing prisoner Omega Red passing the time by playing chess on set, then two pieces about Brolin, one where he talks about having to get in shape and how he should do these kind of movies more often (I guess he will be!), and another odd one where we watch him ramble about a variety of things as he gets his hair and makeup done for the day. By this point I was kind of tired of these people, but hey, if you love this or that person, you'll enjoy getting a 2-3 minute piece devoted to them, while I keep wondering why there was nothing on the music. In fact, the bonus features as a whole basically focus on the cast and the stunt work, leaving large chunks of the production (design, editing, etc.) unexplored, not to mention a curious lack of info about its comic origins or how they fit into the larger X-universe, which struck me as a bit odd. 

Finally we have "Deadpool's Fun Sack", which gives us a collection of stills (I can't believe this is still a feature of DVDs and Blu-rays) and nearly forty minutes of promotional videos ranging from the trailers (with red and green band versions of each) to the music videos, including a brief making of clip for the Celine Dion one. There are also a few random bits, like a UK promotion where Deadpool takes over the Manchester United stadium and the players' uniforms, which adds to my sneaking suspicion that Fox possibly spent more promoting this movie than they did on the movie itself. Add in the standard digital code (which I tried to give away on Twitter to any follower who could prove they owned Boltneck, but I had no takers) and the top notch transfer (it looks terrific even on the standard Blu) and you have a jam-packed set that, while skimping on some aspects of the production, should fully satisfy anyone who can't get enough of this franchise. I have to dock a point for not putting both versions of the movie on one disc, but otherwise it's a textbook example of how to entice a physical buy from people who liked the movie but might settle for streaming.