Let’s get one thing straight: Deadpool isn’t a superhero—at least in the eyes of the Merc with a Mouth himself. But just because he claims not to be doesn’t automatically mean that he isn’t.
The comic book adaptation, which is already slated for future franchise success (it broke the US record for most profitable box-office opening weekend for an R-rated flick at $135 million), has a plot that is as formulaic as it gets. Regular guy is scorned (mutated into a lethal regenerating force to be reckoned with), loses his girl, girl gets kidnapped by baddie, and the hero (or-anti-hero in this case) saves the damsel in distress and the day. The film is so prototypical that the opening credits are a rundown of superhero movie archetypes, meant to set the tone for the hilarity and action that’s about to ensue.
But even if the storyline has an arc familiar to fans of the genre, it’s the protagonist’s human flaws that make Deadpool so endearing. He’s murdered the concept of what a modern-day superhero should be, only to embody a fresher, slightly imperfect mold of the masked vigilante—a superhero antithesis, if you will. Starring Ryan Reynolds as the wise-ass badass (with a great ass as the movie’s poster claims), Deadpool is an ingenious reprieve from the cookie-cutter superhero films that are constantly being shoved down our throats.
Here’s how he did it.
Audiences are so used to attractive superheroes pulverizing equally attractive villains (Thor and Loki are a geek girl’s wet dream) that it’s amazing women still think that mortal men make viable life partners. Thor’s Chris Hemsworth, with his Fabio-esque golden locks and ripped physique, looks like he belongs on the cover of an erotic paperback novel. Despite being played by a very-British Henry Cavill, Superman is that all-American farm boy with boyish good looks. And let’s not forget that he’s an alien from Krypton!
Even the Hulk—a monstrous Avenger who is rage personified—has the bedroom eyes of Mark Ruffalo. Deadpool on the other hand is described as looking like “an avocado had sex with an older avocado,” and still his ultra-sexy GF wouldn’t mind sitting on that face. F-yes.
Irreverent is the new cool.
Deadpool is not a role model for kids. Simultaneously self-aware, raunchy, and irreverent, he’s a scum-bucket you wouldn’t mind rooting for. Unlike his squeaky-clean superhero counterparts from other franchises, his issues are literally surface-level. Bats is the rich orphan looking for vengeance; Supes has a messianic complex in his saving of a world that can barely understand or accept him; and the X-Men are pariahs of society.
For Deadpool, it’s simple. He just needs cosmetic surgery so that his gal pal won’t mind pegging him doggy-style.
Self-love is of utmost importance.
Not the kind of self-love that Whitney Houston sings about, but more of the physical, masturbatory kind. How many caped crusaders have you seen jacking off on screen? [SORRY, SPOLIER ALERT!] If you’re having a hard time coming up with an answer, that just proves that Deadpool is kind of revolutionary in this sense.
Sure, you see other heroes succumbing to earthly emotions and the pitfalls of relationships, but never ever vulnerable enough to give in to the unmitigated enjoyment a hand-party can provide. The most human aspect about this character is that, just like the rest of mankind, he enjoys tugging out a good one to release some stress. And he isn’t even ashamed to admit it.
He actually spills blood.
And he isn’t sorry for it.
How many times have you seen the X-Men, Avengers, and Batman turn cities inside out in the name of justice? All the while, they pretend—or at least, the movie pretends—that there was no human collateral damage in the process. This G-rated portrayal of violence is old, unrealistic, and sometimes unentertaining. Deadpool maims, mutilates, and rips his foes to shreds. Granted, he may do it for reasons that may be deemed vain and self-serving, but at least the body count is accounted for and not left to the imagination.
He's forthright, not righteous.
Unlike super-group movies like the X-Men and Avengers, where the cause is greater than the individual, Deadpool’s goal is singular. Super-group franchises herd big names to draw out maximum box-office potential. Heck, even Superman and Batman are doing a collab. Sorry, Ryan Reynolds, but no one really thought you could pull it off till you actually did.
That’s why Colossus can go screw himself.
Deadpool is an army of one, a contemporary representation of unabashed individualism and the rewards that could be reaped from it.