Deadpool’s Unlikely, Perfect Love

"Wade and Vanessa" | Art by joniwagnerart. Used with permission.

Usually a movie lets you know very quickly who the hero and villain are, painting the hero in the best possible light. Sometimes that hero is a brooding, troubled stranger in need of love or a reluctant, gruff, loner who is forced to become the hero we know he can be. Every now and then, the hero is just a regular person who must face impossible odds and overcome—regardless of the circumstances, the hero ends up being good and the movie lets us know it. Even in a movie like Suicide Squad, where the protagonists are villains, we are constantly shown that there are other ‘bad guys’ because they keep doing good things. We can’t help but tell stories where our heroes are good, and even if the hero is doing questionable things (Captain America: Civil War, anybody?) they still have good intentions.

But that isn’t the case with Deadpool. Right from the beginning, he lets you know that he is “no hero” and then spends the rest of the movie being his brutal, crude, and disgusting self. The good guys—Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead—make it very clear that he is not really on their side, although they leave room for hope; the bad guys make it clear he isn’t on their team either, although you wouldn’t know it based on most of his actions. Rather than knowing exactly where he fits, you have to decide if Deadpool is hero, villain, or something in between.

Right from the beginning he lets you know that he is “no hero.”

Wade Wilson, a.k.a. Deadpool, is not a good guy. He’s a dishonourably discharged black-ops soldier with several confirmed kills and a bad habit of using his considerable repertoire of vulgar and disgusting language to offend those around him. Now he’s a mercenary for hire who will do whatever someone asks (for a price). He has no qualms about breaking into someone’s house, robbing them, threatening a teenaged boy, or spending the money on a prostitute.

At this point in the movie, many viewers made up their minds that Wade was a straight up villain. But for me, this is the moment where the beauty of this movie can be found—in the selfless love between Deadpool and Vanessa.

You’ve got no argument from me that Deadpool is not a good guy. He suggests his cab driver murder his love rival and then stiffs him for the cab fare, kills more people than he has bullets for, punches a good guy square in the nuts, and uses more swear words then Samuel L Jackson has in his whole career… and this is just the first 15 minutes of the movie. But the love that forms between Vanessa and Wade is probably the most authentic, genuine, and perfect love I’ve ever seen displayed on the big screen. They don’t fall in love because of appearances; neither is moved to change or improve the other; they don’t even love what the other person can do for them. Their love is one that embraces the other person and forms to it “as a jigsaw puzzle: their curvy bits match.”

Often movies use some sort of dysfunction in love to create tension—he wants her for her body not her mind, she wants to fix him, they can’t commit, etc. But in Deadpool, there is no sexual dysfunction to create drama, because the love they have for each other is rooted in a love that gives and expects nothing in return. It is the kind of love that drives Wade to seek out some way to extend his life and deal with his cancer, not because he is afraid to die, but because his suffering is “a #@$show that he would never invite her to.” That’s the kind of love that decides to do whatever it takes to make someone hurt less because they matter more than anything.

All the decisions Deadpool makes are to make a better life for Vanessa.

Often sacrifices in relationships are used to acquire what we personally want. For example: I eat more veggies so you’ll quite annoying me, you shovel the driveway so I’ll rub your back, we both spend more than we wanted to on a meal we didn’t really like and then sit through a movie we hated in hopes of getting something at the end of the night. And many of us have seen a thousand rom-com’s that play out exactly like that.

Other times, love is used to manipulate and coerce someone to give you what you want; Kilgrave was a great example of this. He was obsessed with Jessica Jones and loved the idea of her loving him, but he wasn’t about to change his nature. And then there are cases like Harley Quinn, whose dream is that she can change the Joker. But all of that is a self-serving kind of pseudo-love because it seeks what the self wants rather than what uplifts the couple.  But the love that makes a bad guy become a better guy because he wants to make a better world for the one he loves, that is truly redemptive.

All the decisions Deadpool makes are to make a better life for Vanessa. He endures tremendous torture to spare her loss and then pursues Francis relentlessly in order to be worthy of her. And the best part of it is, the love she felt for him made him worthy in the first place. In the end, Deadpool is a hero in my eyes, but not because he killed the bad guy, saved the girl, or even became an anti-hero, but because he was willing to love unselfishly and be redeemed.

Dustin Schellenberg

Dustin Schellenberg

Contributing Writer at Area of Effect
Dustin spends his time exploring the far reaches of space, understand the ancient ways of might and magic, and wandering the post-apocalyptic wastes. If it has a reasonably open world, a crafting system and some way to sneak around, he'll be there. When not gaming, he's probably planning his next D&D character (because his DM keeps killing off the old ones). He is a competent bass player and guitarist, mediocre mid laner and outright awful FPS player. He is father of two, husband of one, a sometimes theologian, and all-times pastor of Crestview Park Free Methodist Church in Winnipeg, MB.
Dustin Schellenberg