by Beth Saward
Bringing in a staggering $132.7million, Deadpool had the biggest opening weekend for an R-rated movie, beating The Matrix Reloaded’s previous 2003 record. It’s safe to say that the Merc with a Mouth has been a success. Tim Miller’s direction combined with Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick’s screenplay manage to stay true to the comic’s sense of humour.
Those fans who were worried about how Deadpool’s infamous fourth-wall smashing would translate to the screen weren’t disappointed (even if a beautiful opportunity was missed during Stan Lee’s obligatory cameo). Reynolds, who’s said in interviews that he’s waited 11 years to make Deadpool, plays Wade Wilson with an infectious glee that you can’t help but enjoy. Despite all of this, the film leaves a somewhat unpleasant aftertaste.
All the comedy can’t cover up a predictable and weak plot. It’s a classic romance story: boy meets girl, they fall in love, are torn apart and reunited at the end. Granted there’s a lot more gratuitous violence, close up of spandex clad crotches and self-awareness that an average romantic comedy but Vanessa (the main love interest) still fulfils the role of damsel-in-distress, providing the driving force behind the plot.
Unlike in the comics where he has amnesia, this Deadpool spends the film hunting down the one person he thinks can heal his face so he can then get his girl back. There’s an assumption throughout that she’ll take him back. This, despite him walking out on her without an explanation and never once contacting her. As a film that’s played with and destroyed so many expectations of the superhero genre, Deadpool had the scope to subvert its audience’s expectations here. Vanessa could have refused to take him back, either for letting her believe he was dead for however long it took him to become Deadpool or because of his physical changes. Or simply because she didn’t want him. Not as uplifting perhaps, but since when is Deadpool a feel-good character?
It might have been too much to expect the damsel in distress to be a man but there’s a noticeable lack of any references to Deadpool’s pansexuality.
Vanessa’s lack of agency wasn’t the only issue with the romance driven plot. In an interview with Collider, Miller explicitly stated that this would be a ‘Pansexual Deadpool’. Fans of the comic rejoiced. Here was confirmation, from the director himself, that they weren’t going to make Deadpool straight for Hollywood. Expectations were high.
Unfortunately the film fails to deliver. It might have been too much to expect the damsel in distress to be a man but there’s a noticeable lack of any references to Deadpool’s pansexuality. There’s a lot of focus on his relationship with Vanessa (within the first half an hour there’s a sex montage that spans their first year together) and there’s definitely no shying away from masturbation and dick jokes. But that’s as far as it goes.
There’s a perfect opportunity early on to introduce the idea Deadpool isn’t hetero with a minimum of fuss. A pizza delivery guy turns up at an apartment to the confusion of the man living there. After a brief argument, Wilson (pre-Deadpool transformation) comes out of the bathroom saying that he ordered the pizza. Cue sex joke of similar calibre to the rest of the film and it’s established that he’s not solely interested in women. Sadly not. He’s snuck into the apartment to deal with pizza delivery guy in a convoluted reveal of his job as a mercenary. Yet again the promise of diversity fails to deliver.
This pansexual problem and the clichéd gender politics tarnish what is otherwise a hilariously self-aware reworking of the superhero genre. Deadpool, you tried so hard to be different. But next time, we want maximum effort.
Featured image © Fox Pictures