Why I was Shocked to Enjoy the Deadpool Movie
Look, I was going to see Deadpool regardless. No matter how bad the reviews were, I was going to suck it up and buy my ticket and see what Hollywood did to the character. I’ve been into (mostly Marvel) comic books since I was a kid, and I fucking love Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn’s Deadpool run of the past few years. I cringed through X-Men Origins: Wolverine. I figured that no matter what, it couldn’t be worse than that.
When the Deadpool reviews came out, I glanced at them but didn’t read too much because, again, I was going to watch it regardless and I wasn’t interested in spoiling anything (good or bad). By and large, the biggest takeaway seemed to be that it’s a fun movie but ultimately aimed at 15-year old male Redditors. I sat down at my local Alamo Drafthouse, ordered a martini, and braced myself for an onslaught of sexist “jokes.”
But the sexist jokes didn’t really appear. Sure, there were a lot of dick jokes, but I laughed out loud at a decent percentage of them. Early on, Deadpool gets shot in the butthole. I laughed, because an unkillable mutant getting shot in the butthole is funny. I’m sorry.
Not only wasn’t there an avalanche of shitty jokes, but there was a lot in the movie that was downright….progressive? I know, I know, but bear with me. No, Deadpool doesn’t pass the Bechdel test, sadly, but there are a number of awesome female characters who shirk a lot of tropes about women in comic books and comic book movies.
MAJOR SPOILERS BEGIN HERE!
To start, Morena Baccarin plays Vanessa, Deadpool’s love interest. I spent a good portion of the film waiting for her to be stuffed in a refrigerator, since the plot covers Wade Wilson’s transformation from lovey dovey normal assassin man into the revenge-driven mutant Deadpool. Not only does Vanessa survive the movie, but
she kills the major bad guy saves Deadpool and wounds the bad guy*. Yes, she’s kidnapped in an effort to punish Deadpool. Yes, she’s (briefly) locked up and helpless. But when Deadpool heaves a sword through the glass container holding her, she grabs the blade (cutting herself), rips it out, gets out of the container, and then impales Ajax with it. God damn, girl!
And let’s not forget Vanessa and Wade’s hilariously sex-positive fucking montage, during which they celebrate various holidays through the year. “Happy International Women’s Day,” Vanessa says while adjusting her strap-on. “Happy Halloween,” Wade says as he goes down on Vanessa wearing vampire teeth. Perfect.
Then there’s one of the two X-Men who were able to sneak into the film: Negasonic Teenage Warhead, played by Brianna Hildebrand. She is a pretty minor character in the comics, who was introduced after my childhood X-Men phase, so I had to look her up later. In the film, though, she’s awesome — surly and quiet, but when shit goes down, she steps up. And guess what? She (EDIT: probably?) killed the other major villain.
And about that other villain: it was Angel Dust, played by actual badass MMA fighter Gina Carano. She wasn’t small, or delicate, or vampy — she was big and fierce and she punched the ever loving shit out of Colossus.
A woman even got to be comic relief: Leslie Uggams played Al, a hilarious blind woman who befriends Deadpool and got a ton of laughs in the theater.
To sum up, that’s four prominent badass female characters, which is impressive for a movie that was pitched as an adolescent fantasy. And I really can’t emphasize this enough: BOTH villains in the movie are ultimately defeated by women.
All that aside, it was just a fun, well-done movie. I had my problems with it, but none of them were related to the treatment of women: Colossus was terrible, unsympathetic CGI who would have been vastly improved by being played by Hafthór Björnsson spray-painted silver; there was no actual reason why Wade wouldn’t have gone straight back to Vanessa when he escaped because their relationship was obviously way stronger than physical deformation; TJ Miller’s Weasel was a bit wasted since Deadpool doesn’t need a comic relief sidekick and he wasn’t nearly as funny as Al anyway; Angel’s matchstick-sucking was such an obvious deus ex machina that Deadpool should have broken the 4th wall to comment on it; and other minor plot issues.
But hey, it was a fun movie. I’m glad it made several gazillion dollars, because I’m looking forward to the sequel.
*Thanks to @KarspearHollow for pointing out that the sword didn’t kill Ajax…Deadpool still needed to cap him in the head.