*Note: Major spoilers may be ahead. You have been warned. Proceed with caution.
Deadpool is not your average “superhero” movie. It is much far from it. It is apparent from the opening credits, which start by listing the cast of the movie with the generic character types one would see in any “superhero” movie, rather than using their actual names – like any generic movie would – a ‘hot chick’, a ‘British villain’, etc…and add that the writers of the movie are the ‘real heroes’. Deadpool, Wade Wilson, is not a superhero, as he acknowledges. Officially he is an antihero, who tries to get revenge on Ajax (or as we and Deadpool like to know him as Francis) for disfiguring his face and body when he was in the process of treating him from late-stage cancer and making him a “superhero” instead.
Deadpool’s humor is quite crude; the entire tone and dialogue of the movie adopt that crude and obscene sense of humor. Though it is overdone, it is quite creative and justified actually. We learn that Wilson’s obscene, perhaps, due to the environment he thrived in: his childhood was rough and he suffered from shocking abuse, and then later he was a combat soldier, then up until recently he was working as a sort of “bounty hunter” (as I’d like to call it, though it is not the most correct description) and sticking up to abused people who require his services to threaten their abusers. His clients would typically see him as a hero, yet he is adamant not to be known as one.
Wilson hangs out at a bar where the bartender is his passive best friend, the guy who provides comic relief in the movie. The bar is full of other “bounty hunters” and strippers/prostitutes – of the latter group he meets the love of his life Vanessa. We see that they fit perfectly because they’re both so imperfect that their imperfections fit together. And though on the surface their relationship may seem generic, it is actually not quite so. Wilson and Vanessa stick together through the rough times and their relationship is not the most rosy one. Sure, there are some “cute” moments between them but that is not what it’s about. Vanessa brings out Deadpool’s vulnerable, hero-like side, which he denies its existence, but we definitely see proof of it when it comes to her. She is most definitely a multidimensional character who is integral to the plot and not the average “hot damsel-in-distress” type.
What really stands out about Deadpool is that the movie is a parody of its own self, of other movies, and of the movie industry in general. Lately Hollywood has rather turned into a money-making machine; the money economy of Hollywood is strongly guided by capitalism, and it seems lately that movies’ qualities are irrelevant as the numbers become more relevant – producing more movies, movies which the public would be more likely to consume, and so on. Thus, we start to see more sequels, prequels, remakes of classic movies, side-stories, spin-offs, turning animation into live-action, turning live-action into animation (?), borrowing and re-adapting foreign movies, etc…Movies start to seem really similar, predictable even. We start noticing the insipidity of the movies and complain that the newly released movies “suck”.
Sociologist Georg Simmel’s piece “The Metropolis and Mental Life” introduces the phenomenon of blasé attitude which could be applied to the current Hollywood model. The blasé attitude is a psychological state typically acquired by people living in urbanized settings, who are so used to consumption and the excitement of new experiences that all “new” experiences after a while seem dull and repetitive. Acquiring the blasé attitude reveals that you have come to see that things have lost their values and became meaningless. Everything you consume has become so similar that you start to feel a sense of worthlessness. That is quite similar to what is happening with moviegoers, who typically complain that all movies have become similar and not really exciting to go see.
Deadpool provides a breath of fresh air in the midst of Hollywood’s stuffy atmosphere. It is novel enough to have a character who acknowledges that he is a comic-book character who is stuck in a movie and confidently addresses his audience – a phenomenon known as “breaking the fourth wall”. Deadpool shows us that he is a protagonist one can relate to; he makes crude jokes, references pop culture, and does not have a fancy life filled with expensive technology to aid him. He doesn’t take himself too seriously and undermines his own abilities, which seem quite impressive to us. We can easily say that nobody truly, unconditionally likes him except for Vanessa, and he seems to be more of nuisance and self-serving (except when it comes to saving Vanessa) rather than usefully aiding humanity.
Yet, in a way, he does appeal to humanity because sometimes we don’t really a need superhero who we should applaud for saving others from grave danger but just a regular antihero who can show us the impressive chaos of a bohemian, disturbed mental life. And that is something which we desperately need to escape the rigidity and bureaucratization imposed upon us in the “real world” which has, apparently, even seeped into Hollywood – our supposed fantasy haven -and resulted in the systematic production and consumption of regular-type movies.
While Deadpool may include the occasional patriarchal and sexist undertones found in most movies, I believe it is still intentional on part of the writers to include those as almost every aspect of the average contemporary movie is mocked – whether intentionally or unintentionally. Deadpool definitely succeeded in leaving a contemporary, up-to-date footprint amidst the ever-changing digital age it was released in.