Though the current era of comic book movie dominance shall surely come to an end at some point, it currently shows no sign of slowing or stopping. Marvel Comics adaptations rule the roost, and even the most obscure or oddest characters enter into feature length, live action films as main characters. I have had an absolute blast watching these movies.
That said, I will skip Deadpool 2.
I skipped Deadpool, released early in 2016, as well. The movie surprised many, opening to a weekend of over $130 million of earnings. It also shocked with its over-the-top violence, gore, and sexual material. Even so, it became the most successful R-rated film of all time upon its release. For most, the simple level of violence merits enough to skip it. For me, reasons abound.
The rare attender of Deadpool 2 will have a longer knowledge of the character than me. I own the first ever comic dedicated to Deadpool as a solo adventurer. It remains tucked away in my parents’ house. Marvel released that comic as part of a limited series in August of 1993. When the Saturday morning cartoon, X-Men, featured a sort of Deadpool cameo (via a shapeshifting character), I recognized him. I can still remember some of the banter from his guest appearance in the Wolverine 1999 annual, where the two characters fight a werewolf. This character and I, we’re acquainted.
For our era, Deadpool serves as the anti-hero we deserve. He began as a parody of the violent DC Comics character, Deathstroke. True to form, Deadpool’s comics and films feature much in the way of gratuitous violence. Yet, many of us have viewed a violent film or two, have we not? Perhaps Saving Private Ryan or Hotel Rwanda come to mind? Maybe you think about Schindler’s List. While dispatching countless villains and henchmen with guns and blades, Deadpool marks himself as different due to his constant darkly and sexually humorous commentary and his direct addresses to the camera (a trait he shares with DC’s character, the Joker).
Combine hyperbolic violence
and sardonic wit, and you really have something,
do you not?
You do have something. Some things. You have nihilism as entertainment, mind rot, and soul cancer.
Recall again, Deadpool intended to parody a terribly serious and violent character. But what happens when instead of chuckling at the ridiculousness of a parody or satire, we begin to enjoy the content with no reference to any sort of irony? We look back at the gladiatorial games of ancient Rome and turn up our noses at the absolute repugnance of death as mere entertainment. Nine months in the womb and a life lived for a man to die with a trident in his belly with the crowd roaring.
“But Andrew,” says the young man with the distressed comic shirt, “Those were real people. These are movies.” Perceptive. Very perceptive.
What difference does it make in the mind of the viewer whether the violence viewed happened in reality or resulted from the work of actors and screenwriters? Do we not agree animated pornography causes as much damage to the consumer as filmed fornication with live women and men? When imbibed as entertainment for entertainment’s sake, we show we truly hold nothing sacred any more. Not the human body, not life itself. Anything and everything becomes a joke. No wonder comedy lies decomposing in a shallow grave (coming next week!).
If Deadpool intends to parody violence by making it so grotesquely over-the-top, the viewer should express a measure of horror in reaction. Instead, the viewer comes out of the cinema telling his buddy how awesome it looked when Deadpool shot those three guys with one bullet, man. Then he said something funny, revealing how he has zero cares for anything except for killing the next guy because then he gets to make another smarmy quip!
“Bro, bro, bro! Deadpool didn’t invent violence! You just talked about Saving Private Ryan!” Correct. Notice, the lack of endorsement, and also notice the horrors of war depicted in the the film and those like it. Recall the medic crying for his mother as the last drop of blood leaves his body. The viewer laments the agony of death and pities the poor soul reverting to childlikeness on in a field somewhere in France. His mother will not come to console him, and she will never see his grave. If we write Deadpool into the scene, the character throws a Golden Book at the dying medic and makes an ethnic slur about Germans as he kills one hundred of them. The viewer guffaws, and tweets, “Deadpool is AWESOME!!!!!1! #deadpool #awesome #mercwithamouth.”
At the root of the problem of Deadpool’s nonsense proves its nihilistic heart. Nothing transcends except for sarcasm and absurdity. The character is nothing more than a Samuel Beckett ripoff with a gun. It's Waiting for Godot with super-cool deaths.
So yes, despite my enjoyment of The Avengers and such, I will pass on Deadpool when theaters release it next week. Next time I’m at my parents’ home, Deadpool #1 will stay where it is (I know not where). Nothing exists in Deadpool that I cannot find in my own blackened but redeemed heart. I did not learn Christ this way, rather, Christ teaches me to put to death my flippant disregard for everything.