My daughter loves Deadpool. No, that’s not a Metal band from Scandinavia. He’s a comic book character far, far removed from the popular canon of superhero icons. I’ve let my nerdy side out on this blog previously with an Ode to Loki. Well now I feel the need to address the badly maligned character of Deadpool.
In the world of comics, A-Listers are the ones we all know by heart; your Supermans, Batmans, Spider-Mans, etc. The B-List are those whose names you still recognize but might not know their secret identity’s name or what planet they come from. These are your Green Arrows, Martian Manhunters, Silver Surfers. They get some credit every once in a while, but rarely do you see a kid on Halloween rocking a Dr. Strange costume. Then, below that you have your C-listers. They don’t get a lot of love and only really show up when the comic needs to 1) fill in the background space during a huge war, 2) find a convenient way to move a story along without having to explain too much or 3) have someone die. These are your Firestorms, Quicksilvers, Luke Cages, and Inhumans.
This is sort of where Deadpool hovers; a C-Lister with cult status. Where the cult status comes from is also the reason he’s probably not going to ever crack into the B or A lists. First off, while he’s not a villain he’s far from being a hero. He’s a killer. It’s sort of in the name. If that very short description has you thinking his character is some dark, brooding antihero with an insatiable bloodlust borne from a lifetime of sorrow you’d be wrong. He’s actually quite funny. Comedy is a huge element of his character. Very sarcastic, very dead pan, very witty. He’s a quirky comedian. And while he’s routinely breaking the fourth wall by talking directly to the readers during huge gunfights, he’s also just as critical of the people writing his character. Often times Deadpool will express annoyance at how the writers of his comic have portrayed him in a certain storyline. All with biting humor, that is.
He’s perhaps one of the first if not the best meta-character that strays far, far outside the lines of what a typical comic is, all while still retaining the mainstays of a typical comic (guns, explosions, blood, action, tragic backstory continually juiced for carnage fodder, etc.). While I don’t read him all that much, I can understand why my daughter and others like him. He doesn’t hesitate, he doesn’t take anything seriously (even when face to face with almost certain death), he doesn’t always do the right thing, he’s definitely no boy scout, he takes advantage of things and people so they work in his favor, and he pretty much gives a middle finger to anyone who doesn’t agree with him.
In many ways he’s the stereotypical morsel of psychopathic perfection we’ve come to expect in quality comic anti-heroes. However, I argue that in many ways he’s also something to aspire to. Okay, so I’m not recommending we become assassins plying our trade to the highest bidder. But so many of us take ourselves too seriously because we’re worried how other people will see us. Will I fit in? Will they like me? Will I sound dumb if I say this? We let our fears overwhelm us. Deadpool pushes past his insecurity and while horrible things happen to him, he strives to live life on his own terms. Despite his emotional scars and fears, he does what he wants and he doesn’t care what anyone thinks. I believe that’s worth emulating. Yes, yes, I realize that he could probably benefit from having just a tiny bit more compassion and empathy, but seriously, after what he’s gone through what can you expect? Still…everyone should have a little more of his “I’ll do whatever the hell I want and who cares what they think” attitude.