“Gyro Log in a Mask”: From the Desk of a Deadpool Fan (Part Two: The Character)

| April 14, 2016 | 0 Comments

Deadpool: I’ll never have a son, but if I did, and he came out half as awesome as you… What I’m trying to say… I’ll always be there when you need me.

Evan: You already were, Wade. At my lowest point you were the hero who showed up to save me.

Deadpool: That’s… that’s the first time anyone’s ever called me that.

– Rick Remender’s Uncanny X-Force #35.

This post is part of a two-part series. On my previous episode, I wrote about the movie. Here, I discuss the character.

Deadpool, otherwise known as Wade Wilson or The Merc with a Mouth, was first introduced by Fabian Nicieza and Rob Liefeld in New Mutants #98 in 1991. Originally brought in as a villain to parallel (and parody) DC Comics’ Deathstroke, he acted true to his mercenary origins and took a contract on then-leader of the New Mutants (and future BFF) Cable. It went about as well for him as you might expect.

As time went on, however, Deadpool began to gain popularity. Eventually, he found himself starring in his first solo miniseries titled Deadpool: The Circle Chase. Nicieza helmed the four-issue arc and started revamping the character, adding a more fleshed-out backstory and the hints of an emerging heroic side, an idea later embraced and honed further by writer Joe Kelly who took over Deadpool when the character gained a major ongoing series.

While Kelly admits he really just winged it while working on the Deadpool comics, his interpretation and development of the character has had a domino effect on the Marvel universe, on the internet and its culture, and, in fact, on the comic book industry as a whole. I contend that Deadpool is one of the most important fictional characters of our time, and his unique position in a world of failed systems and holier-than-thou ideologies may help to demonstrate just why.

For those new to the character, Deadpool is largely who the internet and the recently released film portray him to be: a violent, nonsensical, and morally questionable internet meme. He may be a psychopath and a menace, but he also speaks to a cathartic guilty pleasure in us all. He is a culmination of our favorite heroes’ imperfections: Spider-Man’s sarcastic and deflective sense of humor taken up to eleven, The Punisher’s lethal vendetta taken up to twelve, and Wolverine’s stubborn rage taken up to thirteen. He’s a dick to his enemies and we love him for it because his banter with them and even with himself makes for a refreshing change of pace from the self-righteous, moral ponderings of greater heroes.

Deadpool: See how you like it when I smack you with an interspatial distorter that will temporarily phase your brain into Dimension X!

Daredevil: …This is an iPod with a piece of masking tape attached to it.

Deadpool: It is. Ah, but for a second there, you were really worried!

–  Fabian Nicieza’s Cable and Deadpool #30.

Birthday present from a friend, yet again enabling my unhealthy obsession with Deadpool.

Birthday present from a friend yet again enabling my unhealthy obsession with Deadpool.

But he’s more than that and so is his humor. In a world full of near-perfect heroes and the most heinous of villains, Deadpool is constantly trying to be a better person, and he’s a reminder to us all that the act of trying can often mean more than the satisfaction of achievement. Superheroes all stand for some ideal we strive towards, whether in regards to our frustrations with society or with ourselves. They’re all important for different reasons and Deadpool earns that credit too.

My journey with Deadpool has led me through dealings with both insecurity and acceptance, both fractured friendships and mended ones, and all other things weird and wonderful from bittersweet goodbyes to existential struggles to questioning the many roles we each play in life: of a friend, of whatever family member, of a hero. And he does it all while reminding us that it’s okay to laugh every once in a while, even, if not especially, at ourselves.

Because perhaps what makes Wade Winston Wilson so special is that he isn’t a hero in the traditional sense of the word. He’s aware of his flaws and able to acknowledge and laugh at them while still trying to be a better person. And he, like us, isn’t very sure about what that phrase even means. What is a “better” person? What is a “hero,” even? You would think that in a world inhabited by Captain America and Charles Xavier, “hero” would stop being a term that’s open to interpretation, but it’s not. Deadpool exposes the flaws in society by demonstrating that he could save the world a hundred times over but still be known only for the first impression people had of him: as a mercenary. And yet he will continue to choose to save the lives of people like Evan, the child prophesized to become the next Apocalypse, and he will continue to put his faith in the ideas of redemption and free will even if he must do so in the dark.

And he’ll have a good laugh about it to boot until eventually, people like his “prisoner” Blind Al, his first on-screen contract target Cable, and eventually even Captain America will become among the first to see good in him. Deadpool has come a long way since when I first discovered him. After all his struggles, he has been named an Avenger, and maybe that means that if we work hard enough to grow and change while hanging on to a sense of integrity, we just might be able to stand among the heroes we idolized as children someday too.

Featured photo credit: Aaraf Afzal

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Category: Art and Literature, featured, Poetry, Prose and Comedy, Reflections, TV and Movies

Aaraf Afzal

About the Author ()

Aaraf Afzal is many things, but he's not particularly good at being any of them. He continues to work towards this goal, among others, studying Film & TV and Economics at Boston University. An avid subscriber to the belief that all forms of media have their own sense of artistic beauty, he is particularly invested in writing fiction and recently released his first novel "Re: Revolution" in Bangladesh. Alongside his pursuits at Culture Shock, he's currently at work writing an online series called "The Chosen Zeroes." Fandoms and inspirations include Neil Gaiman, Kingdom Hearts, Ratchet and Clank, Marvel Comics, and Culture Shock. Giggity.

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