Deadpool: Four or Five Moments

For the UAS Whalesong

Deadpool was a Fun Movie. Personally, I don’t think there are enough of those these days; movies try so hard to be Gritty, to make us Care About the Conflict, to make us Feel Our Mortality and to be Emotionally Gripping. Deadpool takes this trend, throws it out the window, and then also shoots it and sets it on fire, because: why not? This is not to say that Deadpool isn’t any of the things I just mentioned. After all, Wade Wilson (who becomes the titular character) is dying of cancer. This does not a fun time make. And the film does not make light of that; usually a flippant jackass, Wade has some serious scenes where he and his fiancée deal with the fact that he does not have much longer to live. It’s also worth pointing out that this very issue is what drives him to do the things that turn him into Deadpool. And if you know Wade Wilson and Deadpool at all, you know that he is rude and crude and, from an objective standpoint, entirely unlikable.

But that’s why the movie and his character work, and why the entire thing was simultaneously a comedic romp and weirdly inspiring. In one of the scenes aired in the trailers, the main villain leans over Wade and tells him that the first thing people lose in the testing facility where he’s being kept is their sense of humor. Our protagonist accepts this challenge, and wildly enough, he actually does maintain it – his same weird, wacky sense of inappropriate and slightly insane humor. This is great because another movie might have had him be scarred and deeply serious for a time before learning how to smile and be amused again; another route they could have taken was him being a “normal” person before the events that make him become Deadpool, with his messed-up jokes and way of looking at life being a result of him going insane at the hands of the villain’s treatment. But the movie does not choose either of these routes, and I think that’s important. It shows that even when terrible things happen to you, you can still maintain who you are through the bad stuff and come out the same person (maybe a little better, a little stronger, in a nice suit with some cool katanas) on the other side.

Unlike many other movies, Deadpool isn’t about change and development in one character through the course of the film. Deadpool is about change and development in one character’s environment, while that character staunchly refuses to change and develop with it. And, perhaps importantly, so do the rest of the characters. The main villain is touchy about his real name from the moment he shows up until the moment he – well, I won’t ruin that for you. Negasonic Teenage Warhead is an apathetic teen when she first appears on screen, and maintains that apathy in the final boss battle to the point where she actually stops the fight so she can finish composing a Tweet. And, despite being surrounded by rude people with selfish intentions, Colossus does not stop being a good person who tries to reform them all. It’s a strangely refreshing change from the usual arc of character development that we’re shown in modern cinema – especially in superhero cinema.

My favorite part of the movie, however, was only tangentially about Deadpool. Major spoiler here – he is about to shoot the villain in the face. His finger is on the trigger, the villain shows no remorse, and then Colossus asks Deadpool to wait and says this:

“Four or five moments. That’s all it takes to become a hero. Everyone thinks it’s a full-time job. Wake up a hero. Brush your teeth a hero. Go to work a hero. Not true. Over a lifetime, there are only four or five moments that really matter. Moments when you’re offered a choice to make a sacrifice, conquer a flaw, save a friend – spare an enemy. In these moments, everything else falls away…”

This scene was obviously not the main point or even necessarily the best part of the movie, but I think it’s an important one. Especially in this age of Marvel and DC, we’re surrounded by characters who are always either naturally doing the right thing (Captain America), constantly struggling to do the right thing (Tony Stark?), or doing the right thing in a weird sort of rebellious “I’m doing it even though it’s hard and I’m almost on the edge of vigilante justice but I haven’t killed a cop yet so I’m not quite there” way (Batman). All of these characters are icons of pop culture and role models, and all of them imply that being a hero is a constant state of both conscious and subconscious existence. Even though Colossus’s speech might not have been a very large part of Deadpool, I think it’s significant because it underlines the point of the movie – and maybe even the point of Deadpool. You can be an ugly, slightly crazy, rude, chaotic neutral bounty hunter, and you can still be a hero as long as you make the right choices in the moments where it counts.

Anyway, I would give it a solid 7 out of 10! Good movie, solid plot, some fun jokes, Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead were the best characters. It does contain a lot of swearing, so it will be fun for you if you like the F-bomb but I wouldn’t recommend it if you don’t. Now, go make the right choice in the moment and do your homework. It’s what Deadpool would want you to do.*

*No, it isn’t. But hey, at least I tried.

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