Marvel fans have been eagerly awaiting the release of Deadpool the movie since the leak of the teaser trailer well over a year ago. Marvel films are everywhere right now, but none can compare to the much more adult movie that Deadpool promises to be, with an ‘R’ rating and portrayal of the merc with a (foul) mouth living up the comics standards.
Deadpool is one of those anti-heroes that you just have to love. He’s narcissistic, sarcastic, meta and now apparently, pan sexual. One of the things I’ve noticed about the movies advertising (because my partner and I are so eagerly awaiting this film that we are keeping up with all the advertisements) is the sexualization of the character, where we see him spread out on animal skin rugs in front of a roaring fire, posing in the typically ‘female’ way which allows a view of both butt and chest (something Marvel have been doing for years with the female characters) and with close ups of his junk with the slogan ‘wait til you get a load of me’ and basically portrayed in ways that most male superheroes are not, and I think that’s fantastic!
Not only is the character attacking the way in which most female heroes are depicted with their breasts and butt being the focal point of every pose, its simultaneously laughing at the hyper-masculine, violent, muscled male superheroes we are drowning in. He is playing its part in the marvel gender-swap which sees male heroes posing in extremely female hyper sexual ways, whilst female characters take on the dominant, not at all sexual, heroic poses that all male heroes take. So Deadpool’s getting into gender politics too!
Deadpool has always been a character that attacks the norms, and men simply are not sexualized to the same extent as women in media, film, advertising, etc, so its refreshing to see the tables turned. Are we supposed to laugh at him and the way he’s acting? No, I think we are supposed to be laughing with him, at the fact that its pretty disturbing to see a man this way, so why not when women are portrayed like this? The schoolgirl like pose (complete with pink detailed backpack) is particularly disturbing, but our culture idolizes the hyper-sexualization of young adolescent women; think Britney Spears ‘Baby One More Time‘ and little miss beauty pageants. Its so common we don’t even recognize it any more, never mind see a problem with it.
And lets face it (pun intended), Deadpool with suit removed, is not supposed to be attractive, and neither are schoolgirls, or any adult women dressed in a schoolgirl outfit, or any other costume that highlights female innocent adolescence!
And to me, that’s the point behind all of Deadpool’s advertising; Not everything should use sex to sell. Some things should not be sexualized, there’s no need. We get it. Sex is everything to the media, and advertising and cosmetics and clothing and hell, almost every aspect of society, but we’re sick of it! Its unnecessary, and offensive and over the top (just like Deadpool himself), but it needs to stop. Deadpool epitomized the advertising industry, which uses masks of photo-shopping, and make-up, and cover up to hide whats not conventionally attractive in order to present something that is.
Like the romance trailer that was released as part of their Valentines day advertising, it portrayed the film as something it was not, by using aspects of the actual film, but skewing them into something which would appeal to the stereotypical woman going to the cinema on Valentines day: A romance.
So that folks is why Deadpool is one Giant metaphor-for the advertising industry, for film, for how women are portrayed, for life in general.
Finally I have seen the film. And it was amazing, everything the fans wanted and more (save for Deadpools multiple voices). It had quirky moments, meta ones, breaking of the fourth wall, strong female characters, hilarious one liners, impressive and well placed Easter eggs and of course, a Deadpool that is wholly loyal to his comic book character (we can finally put that Wolverine atrocity behind us and pretend it never happened).
However, given Marvels track record with being less than female friendly it really is imperative to look at Deadpool and see how it appears under a feminist scope. Fortunately, it does really well (the women of the world rejoice, female marvel fans jump for joy…Fucking finally!). No it does not pass the Bechdel test, that is true, however it does do a lot to be female positive.
Firstly, the love interest: Vanessa is a sex worker, and proud of it. This is not portrayed negatively, and she is never turned into a subject for the male gaze. In fact none of the workers are and that in itself is incredible. I cannot think of a single film that shows sex workers and/or dancers without turning them into objects.
Secondly, the film is super sex positive: we see Wade (pre-Deadpool) and Vanessa in multiple positions celebrating different holidays, but the dominant/submissive rolls that are usually portrayed in on-screen sex scenes were shared. This is because their relationship is not built on the strong/weak, control/comply idea that is rampant is society. They are both equals in every way.
So not only is Deadpool a metaphor for the way in which advertising obscures reality to portray something in a particular way, it is also a message on how you can treat women within the medium of tv or film. Women can be sex workers and still not bow to the male gaze, they can enjoy sex without being shamed for it, they can be both of these things and still be hard, kick ass women in control of their own fate and well able to stand up against men.
And that there is why Deadpool is possibly the best film to come out of 2016. It has achieved so much in this one film that hundreds (thousands even) have positively failed at doing before now.
We need more films like this, Pronto!