FeminismSkepticism

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.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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10 Comments

  1. February 14, 2016 at 4:19 pm —

    Haven’t seen it yet, but I plan to. Wow, this is a comic book movie? And so many women who are actually relatable? (I don’t necessarily mean Strong Female Characters™ that the comic book industry loves to trot out either.)

  2. February 14, 2016 at 4:58 pm —

    I have been wanting to see this so bad… you just made me even more excited for it, which I didn’t think was possible…

    After that, it’ll be interesting to see how DC and WB handle Wonder Woman…

  3. February 14, 2016 at 5:58 pm —

    I was also expecting Reddit style humour, though I hoped not because I love comics-Deadpool. It was pretty much everything I wanted it to be – silly, funny, violent and crude without being bigoted.

    My husband, who isn’t really into comics, was hoping for less of an origin story and more of a set piece, but I get why they did it this way. I’d honestly love to see a Netflix type series of Deadpool’s random case of the week. No big overarching plot, no grimdark nonsense, just 13 episodes of him doing his merc thing with Deadpool flair.

    But then they’d probably ruin it by spinning it out for ten seasons and make us all sad. Still, it’s a nice thought ;-)

  4. February 14, 2016 at 7:07 pm —

    *sigh*
    I’m going to have to see it, aren’t I? The one Marvel movie I wasn’t excited to see – Deadpool… so irritating. I kinda hate Deadpool. – and this is what you tell me about it? God damnit!

    I wonder if they’re going to do a Squirrel Girl movie?

    • February 14, 2016 at 7:08 pm —

      Oh wait, I lie – I wasn’t excited to see Fantastic 4 either. That wasn’t so bad either, if you pretend it ends just before Doompants comes back from spookyworld.

    • February 14, 2016 at 9:07 pm —

      Honestly though, I enjoyed the movie but if you already hate Deadpool, I wouldn’t suggest you see it. The movie is true to the character, and one of the reasons I enjoyed it so much is because I enjoy the comics.

      • February 15, 2016 at 7:05 pm —

        To be fair, I may have been exaggerating slightly when I said I hate Deadpool. I find the comics irritating, but it’s mostly over things that are more forgiveable in film, and I did find myself smirking at the trailer. Besides, chances are good that I’ll get dragged out to it by my cinema buddy anyway, so I have no choice. No choice, I say! Except to maybe suggest a different film… like Star Wars for the fifth time….

  5. February 14, 2016 at 9:54 pm —

    “…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.”

    Ryan Reynolds was by far the best part of X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

    I’m not surprised this film rocks, because Deadpool seems like the role Ryan Reynolds was born to play.

  6. February 17, 2016 at 4:14 am —

    I loved the “is it sexist if I kill you? or is it even more sexist if I don’t kill you?” scene. Pretty much sums up my thoughts on sexism in movies. :-)

  7. February 20, 2016 at 6:47 am —

    “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”

    Are you honestly saying that a person thinking “I’m not beautiful enough… they will think I am repulsive and reject me” is “no actual reason”?

    Wade obsessing about his looks was in my own opinion the strongest humanizing and relatable trait of the character. Trying to psyche himself past his anxiety will have millions of people in the audience thinking “I know that feeling so well”. And seeing a *male* being portrayed this way was for me a big “Oh yes!” moment; a strong PSA weaved believably into the story.

    So I strongly disagree with you here: this was not a weak plot point… it was the most realistic and relatable one.

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