Deadpool not only is a lacklustre Marvel afterthought relying way too heavily on F-bombs as a humourless shock tactic, but also manages to do so in an overwhelmingly misogynistic way. Now, it may have been the 24-hour flight and uncomfortable upright aeroplane seats which put me in a bad enough mood to hate this film, but I can’t imagine what it would have taken to get me to like it. The dialogue was clumsy and incredibly forced, the acting was sub-par at best, and the plot was pretty much non-existent.
Maybe I’m missing the point of the character, who so challenges superhero stereotypes whilst still being slave to the most stereotypical of plotlines. I just wish the stereotype had been challenged in a way which used more intelligence than swearing between words and not having a pretty face. To break stereotypes in such ways means that the breaking itself is somewhat undermined. I appreciate that Wade’s insecurity is something slightly deeper than skin deep (pun intended) and adds an interesting layer to his character, however it does very little to even the disparity between Wade and Vanessa in their relationship.
Vanessa’s character is somewhat problematic, despite her delivering the only two moments in the film which genuinely made me laugh (namely, ‘International Women’s Day’ and ‘a face I would be happy to sit on’). She is set up as a strong-independent-woman-who-don’t-need-no-man type and yet is reduced to the most simplistic of damsel-in-distresses by the film’s conclusion. For a character given so much of her own agency in terms of sexuality alone (more on this later) – I would have loved to see her at least assist Wade in the rescue at the end of the film. Her sexual agency is something which I am still unsure about. She is a stripper throughout the film, which I do love, as it is not, upon inspection, something which is ever actually condemned in any way. At first, I was concerned that it was being used as an aspect of her ‘rock bottom’ – when Wade comes back into her life. However, there is nothing to say that she has not been a stripper throughout the time she was with him as well, and so this potentially problematic character development is in actual fact an inherent part of her character anyway.
Regardless of this, sexual agency has been used throughout Hollywood to create femme fatale characters, a category in which Vanessa arguably fits. There is nothing wrong with this. The problem arises, however, when female characters cannot transcend beyond this area of agency. To give women sexual agency and nothing else is to oppress us in the way we have always been oppressed, but to call it empowerment. Now, I’m not saying that women cannot be both sexy and strong. I’m saying that women in real life would be strong, sexy and OTHER THINGS AS WELL. Intelligent. Funny. Good at pinball. The issue I have is the reduction of female characters to embody the femme fatale trope without additional characteristics as well. Vanessa could have been a strong, sexy woman with intelligence enough to save herself, or to help Wade defeat Ajax. Instead, we get a woman who stands there and looks pretty, delivering some great lines to illustrate that she ‘isn’t like other girls’, yet fails to do much more than punch Ajax and wait for Wade to finish the job. I realise it’s supposed to be Deadpool’s movie, I just wish his love interest had been a little more, well, interesting.
The final issue I would like to explore within this film is the character of the evil henchwoman. I have since found out that her name is Angel Dust (for real), but I have had to look it up. WHY, MARVEL? In addition to this, Valkyrie from Thor: Ragnarok is also never named. I don’t understand why Marvel ever considered this even a little bit acceptable. Furthermore Angel Dust has pretty much no actual lines in the film anyway. But that’s okay, because she does get a nip slip. I want to get this straight, though, because I’m all for nip slips and nudity in general, but I just don’t really understand the point of this one, other than gratuitous male gaze action. Evil henchwomen are great. They need lines. They need names. They need a fight scene which doesn’t involve them being naked – or does, but unapologetically so.
All in all, I was disappointed with Deadpool. I really wanted to like it. I wanted it to challenge all the stereotypes of superhero movies which make them nothing more than a predictable plot full of predictable characters but I think Deadpool basically just reinforced all of them. Next time, Marvel, try naming your female characters and we’ll see how we go from there.