This Padawans is not so much like the others in that, in this installment, we’re talking about a comic-based media property rather than source material documents. I like how academic that sounds, don’t you? Especially given the subject at hand.
It’s been a while since I saw a movie opening weekend. A movie that wasn’t Star Wars anyway. Spending more time than I already do away from the kids, ticket and babysitter investment… there are a lot of moving parts and it’s rare there’s a movie I want to see enough to make the effort to coordinate all of them. I’ve been waiting a long time for Deadpool, though, so I made an exception, really, really hoping it as going to be worth it.
It was. It was so worth it. Deadpool met and exceeded all raunchy, foul-mouthed, hilarious, bloody, anti-heroic expectations.
Interesting fact for those who have not yet, or don’t plan to, indulge: The first thing the titular (heh, tit) character does is declare Deadpool a love story. He later amends that but here’s the thing: Deadpool, in some very fundamental ways, is a love story and it’s one of the best, most honest comic book love stories to come our way since Green Arrow and Black Canary (the real ones, not the shallow, insufferable, Arrow facsimiles).
Now, this ain’t Pretty Woman (which I actually place on the “creepy” end of the romantic spectrum) nor The Notebook. It isn’t Lois and Clark nor Wandy and Steve not Peggy and the other Steve. This is not a traditional love story nor a traditional love; if that’s what you’re hoping to see, and that’s certainly your prerogative, this is not the tree you’re looking for up which to bark. There are lessons to be found in those sort of loves story as well. Go forth and find them.
I’m going to hang here for a bit because I think Deadpool, in its skewed, mad, filthy, f-bomb filled way, has a lot of very important things to teach us about real love.
Love Should Fit The People Who Are In It:
Wade is a mercenary. Vanessa is a prostitute (and not the classy Inara kind). Neither is in a traditional career and one wouldn’t particularly expect traditional individuals to select them. Does Wade seem like a bed of roses sort of guy? Does Vanessa seem like a diamonds and chocolates sort of girl? Well, okay, maybe but certainly not in ways we’ve seen portrayed before—recall the engagement Ring Pop hiding spot if you will (for the uninitiated, it’s in the area Wade later refers to as “right up Main Street”). How can we then expect their meeting, their courtship, their love to be of the traditional variety?
Not everyone loves the same way. The hubs and I are two of the least “romantic” people on the planet. We almost eloped in Vegas and then, when we couldn’t find a Rabbi Wayne Newton (his stipulation) sort of mutually agreed that yeah, well, we might as well go for it in a more common way on the return flight home. I picked out my own engagement ring. He has given me flowers once in our twelve year relationship and it doesn’t bother me in the slightest because when he does give me gifts, they’re things like Sherlock Funkos and the author preferred edition of American Gods. Some girls would be disappointed by geek collectibles and books; for me, it means he knows me better than anyone else on the planet. Oh, and by the way, Pandora marketing people? If my dude/dudette ever defaced a hard cover to make it into a jewelry box, I would be forced to take drastic and bloody action.
It works for us.
The love that develops between Wade and Vanessa works for them, which is what makes it a rare and precious thing. Hold on, hold on, bear with me here. Is it a parody? Absolutely, and an extreme one at that. But Wade and Vanessa’s relationship is all the more moving for being theirs and only theirs. For starting with him paying her for her time and taking her to play ski ball. That their way of dealing with their various troubling pasts to let them hang out in contest of extreme one-upsmanship they both understand on an instinctive level.
The development of their relationship is marked not by anniversaries or firsts, but by progressively more personal, intimate, and involved sex acts. (International Women’s Day is my favorite. Don’t look at me like that, it’s yours too.) Probably not so much how most of us do things. Those sometimes crude and always adventurous and athletic, increasingly close moments are the gifts they give one another because what can be more precious between two people who trust no one than for them to trust one another? Is it something you would consider? Maybe. Maybe not. But it’s theirs and there wouldn’t be another way either of them would consider, or want, to celebrate.
A Complete and Refreshing Lack of Love at First Sight Nonsense:
Do I believe in love at first sight? Probably. But admit it, even if you love the romance of the idea, the way in which it’s portrayed in films is usually stale, cliched, and well nigh unto painful. I read a review of Deadpool which suggested Wade and Vanessa fell into this very trope; I wholeheartedly disagree. What Wade and Vanessa have at first sight is lust and I don’t think any of us can deny the existence of instantaneous animal attraction. The mechanics of such is fascinating, but is a topic for another day; what’s important here is that the lust is the skeleton upon which they build the muscle, connective tissue, and skin of their more enduring relationship.
A relationship that takes a year to develop.
A realistic amount of time.
It’s a full year before we hear either of them say, “I love you,” and it’s a nice touch that Wade says it first. A year before Wade presents Vanessa with the infamous Ring Pop of doom and asks her to make any sort of commitment (Vanessa is just asking him to, “Put it in my…” but she is ecstatic nonetheless). Because they’re both ready for the next step.
A year later.
At which point, of course there’s a wrench, because movie and plot.
Their Relationship is Equal and Honest:
Neither Vanessa nor Wade hides their past or their core from the other. Neither of them hides from the reality of his ugly metastatic cancer. When he offers her an out and she decides to stick, it’s in full possession of the knowledge that “Cancer,” as Wade so succinctly puts it, “is a shit show.” He doesn’t hide his mortality. She accepts it and loves him all the more for it.
When Wade leaves Vanessa for the supposed government program, he does so knowing it’s against her wishes. He justifies himself in a very typical comic-cliche way, the one that’s driven me away from Arrow and away from The Flash, the “I’m doing it to protect her” rationalization. Female characters are guilty of leaving their partners for the same reason, though it doesn’t seem to happen quite as often, but mmm. Yeah. And how does that end? Ever? Horribly. It always ends horribly. It ends horribly but the leave-er never apologizes. He puts it on her, triggers her guilt reflex so he can feel righteous. And never, ever does he say, “Damn, baby, that was a terrible idea. I can’t believe I did that. I am so, so sorry.”
Wade does. Wade, the Merc with the Mouth. Mister answer for everything.
He apologizes. After the knife in the skull hallucinations have played out, of course.
And Vanessa, at first, isn’t sure she’s having it because she is rightfully pissed off. She doesn’t immediately throw herself into his arms because that isn’t who she is and he doesn’t deserve it from her. He is honest in his apology and she is honest in her anger.
When she sees what was done to him during the experiment, she doesn’t immediately fall on her knees and weep because that’s not who she is. She doesn’t prostrate herself upon the altar of Wade the martyr either. She studies him, considers. Tells him, “after a period of adjustment and some drinks,” she thinks they can resume some sort of relationship. Honestly. Because even if you love someone very much, even if you’re willing to forgive them their mistakes, even if you love that person for who he is, with his looks only being a small part of the whole, such a drastic change is inevitably a difficult thing with which to come to terms.
Difficult but not impossible.
And that, dear Padawans, is what he of the butt ring and she of the world’s oldest profession, have teach the rest of us about love.