After a trailer campaign that has thus far opted for the quirky and unconventional so far as trailers go, the final promo for Deadpool 2 appears to gear decidedly towards a broader audience, establishing a narrative setup and delivering both the gritty action and wry humour that the first film was critically acclaimed for.
The first fifteen seconds or so establish a few elements of the sequel over Deadpool’s monologue (Ryan Reynolds): Cable as the new big bad, a new squad for Deadpool known as X-Force, and a rescue mission conceit to frame it all.
At 0:15, Deadpool seems to address the camera – a 4th-wall breaking that will seem tame with what is coming up) – and yells “hit it”; on-cue, the main studio cards roll in alongside LL Cool J’s 1990 hip hop hit “Mama Said Knock You Out,” a track whose vintage likely plays to a demographic who grew up with Deadpool comics around the same time.
Marvel is playing up both recent successes and current events, with Reynolds both casually name-dropping Thanos, the main villain in the imminent and highly-anticipated Avengersfilm arriving later this month, and teasing in a title card that Deadpool 2is “from the studio that killed Wolverine.”
At 0:35 we get out first deadpan dialogue as the music breaks, Deadpool asserts the need for a new supergroup and LinkedIn is suggested as an avenue for recruitment.
Throughout, the rhythm track for “Knock You Out” resides in the background as the members of X-Force are introduced, with the second musical stop for comedic dialogue occurring at 0:53.
The second half of the trailer brings in the vocals from the song and the edits are clearly synchronized both to the beat and the lyrics: as Cool J raps “boom,” we see a bullet escaping its firearm; as he repeats “damage” – well, you get the idea. The whole scene is almost perversely celebratory of the carnage, which is certainly a major part of Deadpool’s appeal.
Around 1:20 things seem to take a dark turn, until that’s completely upended by Deadpool’s line, which I don’t spoil here – but it makes it abundantly clear that the film is carving a niche for itself as a self-referential space. This is a Marvel franchise that has permission to reach outside the bounds of its own universe and across to its fandom.
The trailer continues with the song at full volume, delivering a fast-paced montage that keeps the beat. Part of its appeal is the variety of different sounds and visual elements that sync up with the music, with a detonating bomb one second and an average man fist pumping the next. Musically speaking, and in terms of synching with the visuals, this is the high point of the trailer.
1:45 brings the final, extended action-comedy sequence between Cable and Deadpool, the music cutting out once more for it, focusing instead on the sound effects. The music enters one more time for the title card two minutes in, followed by one last gag wherein Peter, a completely average person, auditions for X-Force.
It speaks to the deliberately zany and far-fetched ethos of the Deadpool franchise while also carving out a space for fandom – “Peter” is anyone and everyone who ever fancied themselves as the bearer of the superhuman powers we idolize. That Deadpool simply goes with it, as we see Peter skydiving through the air, is a perfect moment capturing the franchise’s appealing self-awareness.
Back to the choice of music, however, “Mama Said Knock You Out” is a pretty straightforward choice that delivers on amplifying the fun and bombast of the movie. As evidenced by both the action and dialogue sequences, it’s well suited to both the deadpan dialogue and the action-driven visual narrative that the trailer offers.
– Curtis Perry