by Abe Rose
There’s a debate-worthy question raised in Deadpool, sure to be argued across the spectrum of Tumblr. Deadpool, the superhero who slices up nearly a hundred bad guys encounters two females who attack him. He hesitates and says “Wait, is it sexist to hit you? Or is it more sexist to not hit you? I just don’t know!” Mind you, you shouldn’t be hitting anyone at all, but in a hyper-realistic comic book world of power stones and mutants, he raises a difficult question for superhero writers: if violent comic book movies are to have relentless gore and blood, should all villains be eviscerated equally, or does the violence towards female characters help perpetuate the sexist tropes complacent in comic book media?
It raises a good question, but don’t think for a moment that Deadpool is to be taken serious or progressive in any way. Deadpool is a character that loudly sits next to you and provides his own obnoxious observations. It’s the kind of movie that would be impossible to shout jokes and comments at the screen, because Deadpool is already playing that game, and his wit is quicker. In essence, his superpower is like being a walking, talking Mystery Science Theater 3000 commentary.
For those unfamiliar with the merc with a motormouth, Deadpool is an usual character for any kind of superhero universe, because he is self-aware of being a comic book character. When he breaks the fourth wall by speaking directly to the audience, Colossus is confused by who he is talking to. “I’m not talking to you, I’m talking to them!”
Remember that time in Star Trek: The Next Generation when Data accidentally made Moriarty, the Holodeck character, become aware that he was simply a character in a story, and Picard had to decide whether or not this self-aware simulation had actually achieved sentience? Deadpool has reached a sentience beyond that. Not only would he tell Picard, that he too is a character played by Patrick Stewart, he would probably go on to tell him how Star Trek: Nemesis sucked.
There is a superhero origin story to be found here as well as a revenge plot. But these consist of the side-salad, compared to the fourth-wall breaking main course. Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) undergoes a mutant treatment to combat his late-stage cancer. He becomes indestructible, yet his face becomes monstrously ugly (I’m going to refrain from using any analogies for describing his face, because the film is chock full of A+ grade analogies for his misshapen countenance.) He won’t approach his supportive girlfriend, Vanessa (Monica Baccarin) out of fear of rejection. And surprisingly, there’s something quite low-key and sweet about this. There are moments that could make you ponder if all of his subversive jokes and sarcastic witticisms are really defense mechanisms of a scarred, prankster crying in existential pain.
The movie never quite explains why his witty banter can penetrate the fourth wall, but regardless, there’s something refreshing about seeing a frankly honest character like this inhabit a franchise world that has already churned out half a dozen X-Men movies. While the law of franchise economics dictate that all superhero movies must be clean, PG-13 rated family fare to insure maximum box office potential, Deadpool is unapologetic with its R-rating. While there have been extremely gruesome R-rated deconstructive superhero movies like Kick-Ass or Super, this movie has the distinction of still being part of the X-Men universe. It inhabits the same world as Wolverine and Xavier. When only two mutants, Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead, crossover from the X-Men franchise, Deadpool makes the comment, “It’s like the studio didn’t have the budget for any more characters!”
Deadpool is a clever, well-crafted joke movie. It’s not exactly a spoof of a superhero movie, neither is it a dark and gritty deconstruction of the superhero mythos. It is a movie constructed out of the foul mouths of comic book enthusiasts, talking openly and candidly about castings, Marvel Studio, budgets, and how Ryan Reynolds couldn’t have gotten this far into his acting career on acting skill alone. Deadpool has a snarky attitude with a filthy mouth. But somehow, his potty-mouth language sounds liberating to a genre with stringent rules about language. Superheroes typically have to tiptoe around vulgar words, as to not offend the moms and pops and little Tim-Tims. Poor Colossus seems to be deeply offended by that no-no word that starts with an F and rhymes with a duck, yet punching and kicking enemies into exploding terrain is morally acceptable in a superhero movie.
Movies like this tend to get lambasted for the over-the-top violence and gore. Does Deadpool feel remorse for the hundreds of people he turns into bloody kebabs? No. Then why should we root for such a violent psychopath like this? Because he’s a comic book character that knows that comic book violence is not real. The cartoon violence plays for laughs, not shock and awe. It would be just as funny had the movie starred Bugs Bunny. Well, being that Disney owns the rights to Deadpool, who currently rents the X-Men franchise to Fox, I suppose we couldn’t have that Looney Tunes crossover. But we could have one with Donald Duck. I can imagine that Deadpool would have to announce to all the parental advisory boards that he, himself is actually a Disney character.
Meaning: I can’t wait for the sequel.