Five things I learned about writing sequels from watching Deadpool 2

So yeah, I started a sequel for Certified Headless. It’s currently sitting at 30k words and tentatively entitled, A Ghoul Named Bob.

I wasn’t sure how to write a sequel, or even if Certified Headless needed a sequel. So, for inspiration, I watched Deadpool 2.

Yes, I know it’s not as good as the first one, sequels rarely are. That’s why I tried to pick out the facets of the movie that were better than the original, as well as portions that dragged it down so I didn’t make those mistakes.

To that end, I’ve compiled a list of five scenes from Deadpool 2 that taught me something about sequels, both good and bad, as well as how it differs from the original. There’s minimal spoilers in this review, but honestly, Deadpool 2 has been out for so long that they repackaged it as the PG version Once Upon a Deadpool and put it back in theaters, and that version is already out on video. So seriously, if you haven’t seen it, just go rent it already.

Okay, here’s the list of five things I learned:

1. Don’t be afraid to go outside the original’s box.

Mini spoiler: In the beginning of the movie, Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) bills Deadpool 2 as a family movie, similar to how the first one was billed (again by Deadpool) as a love story. Now I wouldn’t go quite so far as to say Deadpool 2 really is a family movie, but the writers (Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick) wrote a scene towards the end where I legitimately got a little choked up. I know what you’re thinking, I must be a huge softy. (Insert the laughter of everyone that’s ever met me.)

But, it’s DEADPOOL, you say. So I must be one of those saps who cries during movies. Like in Lassie, when Timmy falls down a well and Lassie leaves him to die so Timmy can use his last moments on earth to reflect on the wisdom of playing near subterranean crevices. I don’t get emotional during movies, and yet, inexplicably, there’s a part towards the end in Deadpool 2 when my throat tightened up a little.

Yes, it’s the scene that makes Fred Savage cry in Once Upon a Deadpool.

2. Check things out from your villain’s perspective, and throw them a bone once in a while.

There’s a scene toward the end of the movie when you’ll wish Deadpool would just frickin’ die already.

Normally, it’s the movie’s villain who’s so fed up with Deadpool’s annoying chatter and regenerative abilities that they wish Deadpool would just shut up and die. Now, as viewers, we get to feel that way too. Does that make us super-villains? I don’t know, but my magic 8-ball says, “All signs point to yes.”

This one is double edged. I think the most important thing about writing villains is to remember that they’re the heroes of their own stories. Almost as important, is not to write an entire scene/part/chapter that’s so irritating it makes people want your main character to die.

3. Don’t be afraid to lean into the skid . . . as long as it serves a purpose.

The original Deadpool movie was known for being a little crude in the same way Jeff Bezos is known for being a little rich. And true to form, there’s a scene at the apartment with Deadpool and Cable that you can’t un-see, no matter how much you might want to.

And boy-howdy, are you going to want to. Even as I write this, I can still see it, and it haunts me. When Nietzsche said, “For when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you,” this scene is what he was talking about.

But the Deadpool franchise is also known for being funny, and that scene is used to set up possibly the funniest part of the entire movie. I’m fairly certain they also coined the phrase, “shirt-cocking it,” which was an arrangement of words I don’t think anyone had ever uttered before.

My take away from this one was to look at the original, in my case, Certified Headless, and be sure to keep the good elements for the sequel that encapsulate the original. (Basically, just the dialogue, tangents, and action scenes.)

4. Is there something you really wish you could go back in time and change about the original? Consider doing it. That is, if you can work it into the existing world.

Deadpool 2 has probably the best after-credits sequence of any movie ever. It’s right after the animated credits but before they roll the real credits (the ones that tell you stuff like who did the CGI for Colossus getting his ass kicked. Well done, by the way, whoever you are.) Deadpool basically goes back in time and fixes all of the mistakes made by him, Ryan Reynolds, and the makers of X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

I’m not sure if this one will come into play in my sequel, but it’s nice to keep in mind if I need it.

5. Keep your characters’ dialog and actions consistent with their original motivations, allowing for growth, of course.

Because, what the hell happened to Dopinder?

There’s no single scene where you’ll wonder this, because his appearances are sprinkled throughout the movie and they’re all kind of weird. Was it just me, or did he turn into kind of a bi-polar homicidal maniac?

If you’re going to drastically change the personality of one of your characters in the sequel, you should probably have a reason for it. I’m not sure why the writer’s made some, um, creative choices with Dopinder’s character. I’m also not sure if it makes the movie better or worse (but on second thought, I think worse.)

Really it just makes me wonder just what happened to Dopinder in prison after (I assume) he got arrested for the kidnapping and manslaughter of his cousin Bandhu at the end of the original movie.

Something bad, methinks.