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On Deadpool's Overhyped Sexuality

Social justice warriors argue that "Straight White Male" ought not to be a default setting and they're right - it's a wide & diverse world. Arguably nowhere is this default more set in stone than in superhero movies.

I actually rushed out to see Deadpool this weekend because it promised to be something different in this regard. This, despite no real desire to see the movie since the hard obnoxious sell felt like flop sweat (though it sure as hell worked and no flopping occurred). I didn't end up reviewing the film but this piece I wrote for Towleroad is as close as I got. It's called "Pansexual Antihero or Gaybaiting Joke?" because the buzz surrounding the smart ass mutant's sexual desires is empty.

Here's an excerpt but I hope you'll read the whole thing...

Deadpool fits comfortably in the X-verse, being a mutant, but also by selling the troubled 'otherness' that is the X-Men's chief inclusive draw for moody adolescents and beyond. He's neither hero nor villain, but an amoral guy who discovers he has cancer. His superpowers are unlocked through a sadistic experiment to rid himself of the cancer which leaves him badly disfigured but incapable of being killed. This anti-hero has been described as "omnisexual" by the writer of his comic and the media has consistently referred to him at "pansexual". But is he either of those things, or just a typical straight guy who loves a good dick joke?

extra random thoughts about the movie after the jump...

For the record I didn't hate the movie (C+?) but it looks weirdly cheap given the current standards of this genre. The sets and effects feel relatively humble. All in all it's very basic origin story stuff with a harder edge. To directly quote the MPAA:

Rated R for strong violence and language throughout, sexual content and graphic burnt Ryan Reynolds peen.

Okay that's not a direct quote. I added a few words. 

A few more thoughts

  • It was good to see Colossus portrayed with a Russian accent finally (Daniel Cudmore sure looked the part in the X-Men films but otherwise they didn't do right by the character)... though the shape of his body was alarming. His arms looked too big to even be able to bend or function as arms. It was definitely the Henry Cavill as Superman body-dysmorphia workout: all chest and shoulders, no other body parts need apply. 
  • Morena Baccarin is a babe. May success greet all alumni of Joss Whedon's Firefly.
  • I was familiar with Deadpool before the movie... sort of... In the early 90s comics he was more of a traditional villain. But because I'm less than familiar with his comic book reign was he meant to be so funhouse mirror of Spider-Man with the red suit and black and white mask eyes and wisecracks? 
  • Negasonic Teenage Warhead is the longest superhero name ever. I don't know this character. Did they do right by her?
  • Ed Skrein, who plays the villain, is an evil beauty
  • 60s/70s celebrity Leslie Uggams is in this movie! I can't even remember the last time I saw her. Oh wait... yeah, Thoroughly Modern Millie on Broadway in 2002 (she took the Carol Channing role).Have you seen Deadpool yet? If so do share how you felt about it.
  • The action scenes have some good beats but the finale feels weirdly disjointed like each character must wait their turn to use their powers and stand there while the other characters are displaying theirs. Odd. And especially odd to see in the new era when we've seen entire groups of heroes jammed into the frame doing battle (cough*Age of Ultron*)
  • Ryan Reynolds has had a bumpy career of sorts but Hollywood has bet on him over and over again despite that hoping that "this time it'll happen". This will easily buy him another handful of years as a headliner, even if non-Deadpool movies flop. 

Have you seen DEADPOOL yet? If so do share your feelings. 

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Reader Comments (27)

The modern comic character actually is bi (most obvious, as far as I'm aware of, in the Deadpool and Cable run), but I'm not exactly surprised that he reads straight in this first movie. I'm also expecting the Suicide Squad movie to not refer to what is typically, in the comics, Harley's actual main relationship: Poison Ivy.

February 16, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

May success greet all alumni of Joss Whedon's Firefly.

EXCEPT Adam Baldwin. Fuck that guy.

February 16, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKeith

There is nothing pansexual about the character in the movie. They emphasize his sexual relationship with a sexy female who works in a strip club. Two other women play super hero characters but they barely speak. Not exactly a progressive view of men or women.

February 16, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJesus

Nathaniel - Deadpool cost $58 million to make, so by superhero film standards it is quite cheap.

Keith - I have to read up on Adam Baldwin because I've been hearing about how scummy he is for a few weeks now.

Anyway, I saw Deadpool on Friday. I enjoyed it but it's not something I'd rush to see again. Some of the big laughs do land - particularly the in-jokes about the X-Men films - but the overall film is hit-and-miss, it feels like it's trying too hard and the flashbacks make that section on the overpass go on forever.

February 16, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel Armour

I have zero interest in seeing this. Superhero fatigue aside, Ryan is as interesting as an actor as watching paint dry. It amazes me how he keeps getting second chances after so many flops and being plain terrible overall.

February 16, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterV.

"teenage Negasonic Warhead' showed up in Grant Morrison's X-Men run, then was briefly revived by Joss Whedon on his run. Haven't seen the film, but if its the skinhead girl in the trailer, it seems they've reinvented her from the ground up. Shame, as the original is a great side character, ridiculous name and all.

February 16, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterLaika

Well, I liked the movie considerably more than some apparently, but if our modern version of straight guy is someone who jokes about having sex with the men attempting to fight him, highlights common jokes in the gay community (Batman/Robin, and yes I'm aware it's mainstream but still), obsesses over Bernadette Peters, walks around wearing a "RENT" T-shirt and tells his cab driver he's cute, I'm all for the modern straight guy. You can certainly argue he only hooks up with women, but the movie was going out of its way with the gay references. Like, to the point if it was a drinking game, we'd all be completely hammered.

February 16, 2016 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

True. Gay humor but would be major if he kissed a guy, so that taboo is still missing. But Marvel did push boundaries and win, so maybe next time? (doubtful). Would do the male villain. Cate Blanchett is loved here but in real life? Meh. Bless you.

February 16, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJesus

Yeah. I am never watching another Ryan Reynolds movie, so I am out. Burnt too frequently.

February 16, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJohn T

The marketing for Deadpool has been aggressive obnoxious and it comes off looking like a movie made very directly to a certain younger, modern audience for whom talking about sex (and gay sex, at that) isn't that taboo and yet here doing so everything appears to be coupled with a sense of "oh my, did he really just say that?!?" shock that just looks so false and desperate for attention. Like people who go "Oh I went there!" with their own dirty jokes that aren't that good or shocking. You made a blowjob joke in 2016. Well bloody done.

February 16, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn Dunks

This movie was much worse than I could have imagined.

Visually, it had no character or identity at all, very generic looking. The villains had no real agenda and weren't given any personality. And who was in charge of that organization? What even is that organization?

TNW and Colossus were barely in it and yet we were supposed to play along when they were suddenly very important at the end, and even then, they got like one moment of actual moment in battle. You nailed what was wrong with that final action sequence. Just not very good at all, despite some good choreography. And there was no real build to it. It was just all the sudden there. In fact, there was very little world building at all. They never really explained that whole dead pool thing and what exactly that club was, and it was one of the most unique things this world had to offer.

Morena Baccarin started out as an exciting character, before becoming every single female love interest in a superhero movie ever. Not to mention the racism throughout the movie, particularly in regards to the Dopinder character.

And for the love of god, why do we keep casting Ryan Reynolds in things? For a character whose voice has to do all the work, you need someone with so much natural charisma, and they went with....Ryan Reynolds. I can think of ten actors off the top of my head who would have done better. And he's kind of being praised for this performance. But just because he adds in really forceful vocal inflections to raunchy dialogue doesn't mean his voice had any character or charisma.

And it's a shame, cause those opening credits were so clever.

February 17, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

All good points. It works (today) because audiences wanted raunchy and flip, but the plot is so thin. I don't know if any of these comic book films will endure. I really worked with Ridley and my cast to make The Martian into something with a bit more depth.

February 17, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJessica Chastain

It kept me entertained. It does what it says on the tin, but no more.
It isn't half as funny or clever as it thinks it is. Any one of us could have written every one of those jokes.

February 17, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJB

Ed Skrein? No no no, you mean discount Nicholas Hoult.

February 17, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSTinG

STinG -- LOL. I hadn't even thought of that but you're right.

February 17, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I like Ryan Reynolds and am glad his movie is doing well.

The movie itself I found fitfully entertaining and instantly disposable. My favorite parts were the X Men parts, where I remembered, oh yeah, these things can have character and story.

Morena Baccarin's character was a perfect description of Gone Girl's "Cool Girl". So if Deadpool has to have a Cool Girl, it undercuts his sexuality, because he's just the same old guy.

Compare that to James Mangold's The Wolverine, which I really liked. There are four main female characters, all different, and none of whom are the Cool Girl.

February 17, 2016 | Unregistered Commenteradri

Deadpool isn't exactly high art but it's fun. This is the rare movie that can honestly be described as a refreshing take on its genre. As a life-long fan of comics, Deadpool gave me the closest thing to a live-action graphic novel/comic I've seen maybe since Watchmen, if ever. It is colorful, snarky, violent and tells a smaller story where the stakes are of a personal nature to the character, rather than another save the world set piece machine. Ryan Reynolds is a perfect fit for the one character he was really born to play, and I'm happy that (if nothing else) he finally has a career niche to ride for the next decade or so. TNW and Colossus were fun side characters that broadened the scope of the movie's sandbox, and also added to the fresh nature of the film being relatively unseen on the big screen prior. Even Ed Skrein was great as an otherwise one-note villain, providing the audience with a charismatic foil to Reynolds. Even in this day and age where artists like the Andersons Wes and Paul, Todd Haynes and Claire Denis are still making great films, there is something to be said for fun and frivolous entertainments like Deadpool.

February 17, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterTheCinescape

It was a fine way to spend a few hours out of record cold temperatures in NYC, that's for sure. I was largely entertained, even if the laboratory flashbacks were interminable in their length and bogged down the center of the film. And, as others have noted, for all its snark and edge, the movie is a by-the-numbers superhero film, even down to the distressed damsel (sorry, having her stab the baddie doesn't negate the fact she spends almost as much time in a glass coffin as Snow White). I would expect more from a character that is apparently so beloved for taking the piss out of the genre- you could basically swap in any (male) superhero into this and basically have the same movie.

February 17, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAustin

Negasonic Teenage Warhead looked exactly like the comic character. The rest they made up for the better. Her one ability was seeing the future before dying in a horrific accident (which happened more than once in various Marvel comics). Now they actually gave her a real power and made her one of the X-Men. She's really one of Emma Frost's young proteges in the comics.

And, yeah, they slashed this film's budget during production, so the quality of the effects was lower than you might expect.

February 17, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRobert G

They got the Deadpool character down other than that it starts off as a cool kinda gangster black comedy and becomes a generic superhero movie.

February 17, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKris

Just seen it and weirdly enough I'm underwhelmed.
Sure it's fun and FUNNY, but at the end it hust seems to be trying too hard, also no matter how they want to do it, Ryan Reynolds will forever be bland to me.
So happy to see Morena blowing up. She was incredible on Homeland.
LOL I also thought that was Nic Hoult, although he isn't that muscly and hot.

February 17, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterFadhil

Ryan Reynolds has paid his Hollywood dues he deserves a big hit and it looks like "Deapool" is it! But it's ironic that such a good looking star finally gets his blockbuster by playing a disfigured dude in a mask?! Opening week was awesome but will the film have legs?

February 17, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

Jesus -- i'm confused what Cate Blanchett has do with Deadpool. Hmmm

February 17, 2016 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

i loathe everything about this movie with every fiber in my body

February 18, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterstella

Hello, I'm in love with Deadpool since I saw the movie and this blog is very interesting, I want to know if I can translate this article into Spanish and reblog it in the official blog of , now I'm making cosplay costumes of Deadpool ;)

February 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCosplaysky

Maybe I was seeing things that weren't there but I got a pan sexual vibe from Deadpool, some of his comments about men didn't seem to fully be jokes. Ryan Reynolds played him as a guy who does and says what he wants in and out of the costume, and if that means a guy than so be it. I think it's more the movie around him that failed to show that properly. The movie around him failed to do a lot of things :/.

February 25, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKris

The deadpool shirt is a perfect choice for fashion. This will give you a better idea on how to make the murder look particularly stylis

September 23, 2016 | Unregistered Commenteramazon

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