Back in 2016, “Deadpool” broke the rules of the superhero genre, and it paid off handsomely. Not only did it earn an ‘R’ rating, which limits the box office potential, but the film’s anti-hero, Wade Wilson (played endearingly by Ryan Reynolds) broke the fourth wall of acting, and engaged directly with the audience with his witty/offensive banter.

The gonzo marketing has gone viral and the franchise has opened up a new niche in the Marvel Universe that may open the door for the DC Universe to make the appropriate move into ‘R’ rated territory (“Suicide Squad” should have gone there).

The red-leather-clad, former-special forces, mutant assassin is back in action. Still contemplating the meaning of life, still holding on to questionable musical preferences, and still treating his body like it’s an amusement park. Because, you know, he can’t die and has healing powers.

He puts together a super-team (X-Force) to try to stop the powerful Firefist, while attempting to avoid the mysterious time-traveling Cable (Josh Brolin). Little does he know that the secret to his own salvation just might lie in a little bit of trust and compassion. Cue emotional piano riff.

I am not completely up to speed how the Deadpool and X-Men characters fit in the Marvel Comics Extended Universe, as there are clearly connections (Stan Lee, Quicksilver, post-credits scenes), but this film is really more of a door-opening (or door-shattering) for a new brand of X-Men. With “New Mutants” being pushed back a year due to what can only be surmised as superhero saturation, the other side of the MCEU is quietly building into what looks to be the Avengers’ little brother.

Ryan Reynolds revels in this character. It was rumored that he had been campaigning for the role for years prior to being cast, and he has nailed it. After blowing it badly in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” he showcases the character he’s always wanted. A producer and writer on the project, this is Ryan Reynolds’ baby. He’s annoying but funny. Clever and crass. Self-deprecating at every opportunity, and I have to tell you, it works very well.

Playing the second antagonist in as many Marvel films, Josh Brolin is Cable, a time-traveling mercenary with a hit-list. He bears a remarkable resemblance to Winter Soldier, with the exception of the teddy bear, the futuristic blaster, and the glowing eye (never fully explained). I wish there was more back story, but there was a lot going on in the film, so the most interesting character will have to unravel in his obviously impending sequels and spin-offs.

David Leitch is hot property behind the camera after last year’s “Atomic Blonde.” He’s a former stuntman with an eye for action, and has two upcoming projects that will certainly raise some eyebrows. 2019’s “Hobbs and Shaw,” a spin-off of the Fast and Furious franchise, and 2020’s “The Division,” a Tom Clancy story where Jake Gyllenhaal saves New York from terrorist gangs (think a modern “Warriors”). Anyhow, he showcases his chops through a series of impressive action sequences, most notably everything with Josh Brolin.

Reynolds has often shared some of his professional regrets publicly, and in one of the most guilty-pleasure post-credit scenes in Marvel history, he reaches a level of catharsis that any actor would envy.

Reynolds tells the audience early on that this is a family film, and, to some extent, it really is. There isn’t the typical good guy/bad guy dynamic. It’s more about having fun along the way and doing everything that is great about superhero films, just with added sex, violence and juvenile foul language.

I was pleasantly surprised that the sequel outdid the original; I was not expecting that at all. It’s fun and fresh, and you leave the theater with the feeling of accomplishment that comes with the consumption of a CGI blockbuster, but also the levity of a good comedy — really good comedy.

Ryan Reynolds is on top of his game, and the combo of David Leitch and writer Rhett Reese have struck gold. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Reynolds atop the list of this year’s highest-paid actors as a result of the hundreds of millions that are sure to be generated by way of word-of-mouth and critical praise.

“Deadpool 2” has everything you could want out of a gonzo superhero action-comedy; skydiving, mutant powers and futuristic laser guns, absurd death scenes, and even a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Brad Pitt appearance. Reynolds was right: the sequel lives up to the hype.