This is a rare scenario that I felt warranted writing about. The Ryan Reynolds Passion project and comic book movie dream-come-true Deadpool is being released this weekend. I wanted to offer some things to think about when you decide to see a movie and explain why I will be skipping Deadpool completely. I want to say immediately that I am not telling anyone what they should or shouldn’t go see. This is not my attempt to start a boycott or guilt anyone into missing this film. My hope is simply to offer ways of being thoughtful when seeing certain films and inform people who may not be aware that Deadpool is not your average superhero film!
To be fair, I should make it known that I really wanted to see this movie. Deadpool wasn’t a character I was aware of until the disaster that was 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Ryan Reynolds played Deadpool in that bomb but the character was nothing like the comic and everyone walked away unhappy with the results. For almost a decade, Reynolds has been trying to get a Deadpool movie made and his wish finally came true. The reason why it took so long is because of the obscure nature of the character. Try explaining to a movie studio that you want to make a superhero film starring a scarred anti-hero that is vulgar, violent, and breaks the 4th wall regularly. Despite being a very popular comic book character, studios weren’t interested.
That may help to explain the groundswell of support from viewers now that the movie has been made. People wanted to see something different than the flood of superhero movies that have been coming out regularly for well over a decade now.
Deadpool is the Donald Trump of comic book movies
The enthusiasm for this film is noticable and that’s why I wanted to address this. Because if all you know is what’s in the trailers, you may be in for a surprise.
Simply put, Deadpool is a movie that takes great joy in its extreme content. Extreme violence, the harshest of language, and sexuality in all its forms. Graphic sex, nudity, and full frontal Ryan Reynolds. This is no X-Men movie.
Despite the extreme content, my main reason for avoiding this movie is because of how it and its fans view content. Specifically violence. The enthusiasm for this movie is in direct proportion to its graphic nature. The love for it is because of how far it is willing to go. Normally violence isn’t something that I would reject full stop. Tell me a good story and I can look past a lot. Don’t forget, many atheists felt Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ was religious torture porn (and in case you didn’t know, torture porn is a genre of film. Saw, Hostel, Human Centipede, etc.). And good luck even skimming the Old Testament without running into extreme violence. Context is always important. I don’t reject content as a knee-jerk reaction.
“For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,” declares the Lord GOD. “Therefore, repent and live.” Ezekiel 18:32 NASB. Obviously that wasn’t written for movie viewing standards, but how can I rush to theaters to see a movie that gleefully embraces something the very real God of the universe rejects?
Aside from the graphic sexuality and harshest of language, my reason for not going is this: this movie delights in death and slaughter. It is meant to be viewed with joy. Deadpool is a morally gray character that is overtly nihilistic and when he kills, he enjoys doing it. That is your protagonist. You are meant to root for the guy who, despite having other story arcs, takes joy in the death of others. And you are invited to cheer him along.
I will not tell anyone they shouldn’t see this film. That’s not my place. I’m not your mom. You’re an adult. Make a wise decision. I just want to warn you that this is nothing like a normal superhero movie. I also want to offer a couple things to consider when going to the movies that may help you to discern its values.
- What is the movie? We live in a time when you can know almost everything about a movie before you see it. Exhaustive trailers, promotional material, interviews, scripts online, IMDB.com, there is no end to the resources we have to learn about a film before we see it. No excuses parents!
Another thing to ask is “what is the target demographic for this film?” Based on trailers and advertisements, who are studios selling this to? That can sometimes help you understand the level of content in a film. Deadpool seems to be aimed at general superhero movie fans, hence my concern.
Once you start watching a movie, consider this:
2. What is the worldview of this world? Does this world in which your movie takes place distinguish between good and evil? What are the things that are considered good or evil? This doesn’t mean there can be no moral ambiguity whatsoever. Real life is filled with complex people that aren’t always good. The question is, how does the movie want you to feel about the character’s actions.
In the very bloody, very violent Saving Private Ryan, there was a character that stood by and did nothing as his fellow soldiers were murdered near by. He could have done something, but he was a coward and didn’t. You weren’t supposed to like this character for doing that. He was wrong and the movie universe agreed.
After the movie, consider this:
3. Would you recommend this movie to your peers? This is a tricky one, because there are a lot of 22 year old guys who would have no problem going to see Deadpool, revel in its sarcasm and brutality, and walk out saying “dude you gotta go see this!” I’m asking you to think with a more discerning mind than what most 22 year old males are capable of doing. You just took your hard earned money and gave it to a film which added to its box office gross. That adds to its notoriety and appeal. Can you do that in good conscience, view the movie all the way through, consider its themes, worldview and message, and then go to the people in your life and say “I ______ think you should see this movie based on my recommendation.” Certainly I wouldn’t tell my six year old son to come see a period drama. He’d be bored. And I wouldn’t invite my grandparents to go see Batman v Superman, that’s just not their kind of film. But I think you know what I mean. Are you confident enough to put your name to the film you just saw?
I think with those three things in mind you can be confident in the films you frequent. Be thoughtful with what you expose yourself to. We are not merely empty tanks, able to be filled and poured out of content without consequence.
“This life’s dim windows of the soul
Distorts the heavens from pole to pole
And leads you to believe a lie
When you see with, not through, the eye.”
― William Blake