The Philosophy of Deadpool – Wisecrack Edition

Hey Wisecrack, Jared here. Today we’ve got
a self-­aware, fourth­-wall-­breaking spectacular for you. That’s right, we’re talking about Deadpool. Deadpool is experiencing unprecedented popularity
in mainstream media. The film is the highest grossing R­-rated movie ever, and the
biggest opening for Ryan Reynolds, but I guess that part isn’t a surprise. How has this
film achieved such success despite shirking the traditional superhero formula? “Bob? I haven’t seen you since-” “Jacksonville.” Fighting for the greater good? Nope. Selfless? Not really. Fun for the whole family? Uh… “I’m touching myself tonight.” No. For a Marvel character who is an overt ripoff
of a DC competitor that constantly makes fun of the medium that he inhabits, the merc with
a mouth is doing pretty well for himself. Deadpool’s popularity represents a trend
in media that may be gaining steam lately, but is otherwise quite old. And it all has
to do with a 400 year old book, sort of. I’m an arrogant asshole and welcome to this
Wisecrack Edition on The Philosophy of Deadpool. Part 1: Achieving Fuck It There are a few defining features that set
Deadpool apart from the rest of the Marvel universe. He’s an inveterate wiseass, he knows he’s a superhero and is, as a result, constantly breaking the fourth wall and commenting
on comic book tropes and culture. Deadpool takes nothing seriously. Even the ad campaign for the film was imagined in an entirely Deadpoolian fashion. The film’s Valentine’s Day ads
were simultaneously a great way to troll soon­-to-­be furious partners and a set­up for a self­-referential
joke. They even created a Tinder profile. Perhaps the best way to describe Deadpool
is as a postmodern work. Let me explain. Postmodernism is a movement in the arts and
philosophy that typically rejects the kind of grand narratives used to make sense of
the world in the good old days. For instance, the battle of good against evil, democracy
against communism, the inherent promise of technological progress, science or divine
salvation, the very idea of “the good old days”.­ You get the idea. Postmodern
works are quick to thumb their nose at tradition and have a tendency to embrace being “meta”
and self­-reference. Deadpool is hyper-­aware of himself and his
place in the superhero genre. The film is full of Ryan Reynolds jokes, like the reference
to the cinematic abomination “The Green Lantern”, his face on People Magazine’s “Sexiest
Man Alive” or the face of his vastly more appreciated counterpart ­ also on People
Magazine. If the grand narrative that permeates superhero
films is the triumph of good over evil, Deadpool, in good postmodern fashion, says “fuck it
­ let’s go bowling,” I mean, killing. Wrong movie – same idea. There is no grand
battle of good over evil, just a guy out there killing a bunch of people for revenge and
love. This tension, between the old world and postmodernism,
is played out in a couple different ways in the film. Colossus is constantly asking Deadpool
to cut out the shenanigans and join the X­Men, as if to rope him into the role of a good
superhero, family friendly, righteous, and so on. Likewise, the Dopinder subplot subverts
classic narratives of courtly love. Win the heart of your beloved through chivalry and
compassion? Nah. It’s more effective to to just kidnap her current lover and stuff
him in the trunk. Even Blind Al is essentially a deranged version of a classic narrative.
Deformed protagonist who takes refuge with a benevolent blind benefactor? Yep sounds
familiar, except this time… Not to mention that the apple of our hero’s eye isn’t a fair
maiden. She’s a prostitute turned stripper. In this way, Deadpool can be seen as a spiritual
successor to a 400 ­year-­old novel that also made fun of the heroes of its eras, employed
meta-narratives, and is called by some a proto­-postmodern work: Don Quixote. Remember that the story
of Don Quixote is the tale of a fictional author who discovered the fictional accounts
of Don Quixote, a story within a story, way before The Blair Witch project. Don Quixote understands he is being written about, and the fictional author
retelling his tale constantly breaks the fourth wall. At one point in Don Quixote, the story
just cuts off when the fictional author claims the rest of the story was lost. We’re not
saying this parallel is intentional, but it is worth noting that Deadpool kills Don Quixote
in the comic books. To understand Don Quixote’s relation
to Deadpool, we have to understand its historical context. Don Quixote was written at a time
when radical skepticism of the existing order started to bud in popular society. It was
written just before the Enlightenment gripped Europe, which would respond to this skepticism
by touting the virtues of rationality and science. But Don Quixote wasn’t setting
out to invent a new ideology: he just wanted to have a few laughs at the expense of Spanish
society. Deadpool signals a similar disenchantment
with all those old righteous narratives in our society. But this time it’s a little different, and whether or not it’s a good thing is up for debate. Part 2: Ironic Distance and Cynicism In a recent interview, Joss Whedon, the man
behind such self­-aware titles as Firefly, Buffy and the Avengers, finds in Indiana Jones
a microcosm for all that’s wrong with today’s culture. In the original Indiana Jones film, our protagonist
famously deals with a gratuitous display of swordsmanship with a modest display of marksmanship. In the Temple of Doom, we’re confronted with a similar scene but, oh my, there’s
now two swordsmen. Indie reaches for his gun, but it’s not there. He delivers a shit­eating-­grin
to the audience, as if to say, “see what I did there? You saw that last movie, and
I made an inside joke about it. I’m so glad we had this moment together, now that you
feel like you’re in on this collective joke that doesn’t even make sense because Temple
of Doom is a fucking prequel.” That moment of self-­reference for the sake of self-­reference, Whedon says, has engulfed our culture. Film, television, literature ­it’s all becoming that
moment. This self­awareness is increasingly taking
a cynical tone. It’s almost everywhere you look. In the new Tarzan trailer, a reboot/remake/adaptation of a film nobody asked for, Jane overtly references the fact that she’s playing the tired role of a damsel in distress. Now what really chaps my ass about this is that the film is recognizing that it’s using tired recycled tropes, but instead of doing something new, it simply
apologizes for it, and expects us to perceive this self awareness as something clever and
new. The end of Star Trek Into Darkness is just an excuse to say “Hey ­remember this
great scene in cinema? Now it’s opposite day!” 22 Jump Street is the same exact plot
as 21 Jump Street, but it’s ok, because we can collectively identify with Ice Cube
for calling them out on their bullshit. Or, as South Park frames it: As if to out­-meta each other, this cynical
attitude has transcended self­-reference into self-­effacement. Hollywood, that decrepit
machine fueled by the ideas of yesteryear, is always stuck referencing itself. In an
effort reinvent itself while still remaining the same, it gleefully acknowledges its lazy
cliches, with a wink and a nod, like in Tarzan, or by employing irony to undercut a dramatic
moment. Deadpool does both. It breaks the fourth wall to let us in on
the joke and it avoids serious drama like the plague. Hollywood still employs familiar
structures and tropes, but distances the audience from any kind of sincerity so
that it feels new. Is this Hollywood version of #sorrynotsorry gratifying for the viewer, or have we just come to terms with the fact that there is nothing new to say? Deadpool’s humor is largely driven by this
sense of cynicism and ironic distance. Whether he’s being tortured, or about to be gruesomely
maimed, Deadpool remains unphased in the face of what would normally be considered high
stakes situations. Even the tension of combat scenes are undercut by self­aware humor.
Also ­he can’t die so that probably helps. If Deadpool is immune to criticism, it’s
because he is defined by his cynicism. He relentlessly deconstructs any trope that would
endow meaning to film. Deadpool is more or less Wade Wilson’s journey to become hot
again, itself a shallow endeavor, even if to reclaim his lost love­ or really lust. Deadpool
evades criticism become he has no moral scruples or values to defend, his identity is purely
reactionary. He risks nothing. He just makes fun of everything.
Deadpool doesn’t claim to be a good guy. The film also has 0 fucks to give. Its ad
campaign doesn’t take itself seriously and the movie points out its glaring flaws: The
overuse of superhero tropes, or the obvious budgetary constraints. I mean, Negasonic Teenage Warhead
is the Marvel Universe equivalent of a Walmart bargain bin DVD. But just because the movie
is aware of, and sort of apologizes for, it’s lacking qualities, does that make it good? I have to admit, I’m conflicted here. On
the one hand, I find Deadpool’s self­reflective edgy commentary to be undeniably enjoyable.
At the end of the day, Ryan Reynolds is damn charming, the action is awesome, and the jokes
are disarming and quite fun. But then again, should we really give so much praise to a
movie that essentially functions like an Honest Trailer for other comic book movies? Therein lies a danger with this trend: it
never creates anything. An obsession with being meta that devolves into an endless
spiral of meta. In this way, Deadpool isn’t entirely dissimilar from another cultural
movement: one that ironically loves the cliche, endlessly recycles culture and constantly
positions itself against the mainstream­­-hipsters. As Douglas Haddow once aptly noted, the danger
of the hipster is the end of Western civilization itself, “a culture lost in the superficiality
of its past and unable to create any new meaning.” Deadpool isn’t reinventing the superhero
genre, it can only exist to make fun of the genre. Here’s the real problem with Deadpool
and other films like it. Bashing the system may feel good, it may make us laugh, but it’s
ultimately powerless­ it doesn’t change the system at all. As our old friend and alleged Mark Hamill
body­double Slavoj Zizek notes, “cynical distance, laughter, irony, are, so to speak,
part of the game. The ruling ideology is not meant to be taken seriously or literally.” Hipsters fancy themselves members of the counterculture by drinking
PBR and having ironic mustaches. Deadpool fancies itself a countercultural movie by
celebrating its own played-­out cliches and an overused storyline, the cinematic equivalents of gross hipster mustaches and non-­prescription glasses. This cultural impasse reflects a society that
doesn’t quite know what to do with itself. We beat the Commies, our music, film and literature
dominate the world market, and as a society we’re not exactly on the brink of collapse
­ despite what political pundits are telling you. If Deadpool can say “Fuck it,” it’s
because he doesn’t fear death. How can he take anything seriously when there are no consequences? Can life be sacred when it has become limitless? Hell, if the superhero genre survived
these dumpster fires, then maybe it can’t die either­ so fuck it. Why not break all
the rules? Interestingly, the very sanctity-­breaking
of the comic book was inspired a similar problem. Except, rather than feeling that Deadpool
the comic was uncancellable, they felt it would be cancelled at any minute. What ensued
was a similar attitude of “fuck it,” if the comic was already dead, why not write
it like nothing mattered? If we, as a society, can say “fuck it,” perhaps it’s because death or really any real existential threat has become either so distance, or so close that we no longer care. So where does Deadpool land in our cultural
landscape? Does it just use the fourth wall breaking to put a shiny makeover over the
same old shit? Is it the ultimate cynical film? Or does it actually achieve something
new? Let us know what you think in the comments.

100 thoughts on “The Philosophy of Deadpool – Wisecrack Edition

  1. Every story got already written by someone, probably better then you ever could. So why even try to write a story?…create something! because its you, whos creating it instead of someone else, it gets a new meaning. Your meaning ^^

  2. unless they realis they can't do this forever and stop at 3 coz they broke all the rules in 2 and made all the money. three has to be the last. damn it trinity. always killing off good things at 3

  3. Seriously not even a shout out to The Big Lebowski, shame on all of you. You all need to watch it. Such a great cult classic. THE DUDE ABIDES!!!!!

  4. men, this chanel some times feels like an LSD trip, really fun and insidefull and at the end you feel like you don't know what the F is going on in your life any more

  5. Dang it I was expecting a discussion about whether if ur regenerated from a drop of blood are you the same person

  6. While DP may share creators with Deathstroke the original terminator, it'd be more accurate to say Taskmaster is a pale copy of Deathstroke while DP is a copy of Ambush Bug (DC's murderer turned fourth wall breaking hero).

  7. He trolls everything. While still having ryan reynolds personality peek through. What more could you ask for. That why I like dead pool as a character. The movie reason is a bit more complex.

  8. Am I wrong, or does he not forth wall break before he becomes Deadpool??
    IE: Wade Wilson doesn't seem to talk to us, right?

  9. And I wouldnt agree with jim carey piece. He had some (two that i remember) movies where u almost foget that hes jim carrey. One with numbers and one with a girl he want to foget. Both of them can be same movie but i remember that whole ex=gf part.

  10. Both, Post-Modernism & hipsters are cultural parasites. Ticks with Lyme disease, or some other unpleasant affliction that ticks carry and pass on to their host, that not only suck the life energy right out of you, but also leave you with a fucked up parting gift that actively stays with you every day, for the rest of your life.

  11. It is almost impossible to creat something completely original though. We are at a place in time where most things have been done. I don’t disagree with you though, just thought that was an after thought to have.

  12. That's a very difficult concept to get with 🤔
    Also, Collossus vomiting was one of the funniest bits in the movie!

  13. I love Deadpool it is great! And I love the fact he is Super Sane! He knows he is in a comic book and its great! Lol

  14. But aren't you yourself being a hipster? you ascribe philosophical meaning to movies based on the philosophies of others, but those aren't your ideas those are the ideas of others. Therefore by doing this approach you are being endlessly referential without introducing any new ideas (since you aren't actually crafting your own philosophy and applying that).

  15. Dude the movie "airplane" is basically the same thing. That lasted the test of time but the movies they were parodying didn't

  16. So I'm confused does he actually care about sex and so called masterbation? I mean thanos put a curse on him to never die because he had a thing for death but in the comics he is bisexual but in the movie he is with Vanessa but I'm just confused and Deadpool is an awesome character he is not a hero or villan he is just an awesome guy

  17. Also Deadpool falls victim to the exact trope you're talking about, making it no better than any other hollywood "self aware" referencial whatever, Deadpool isn't self aware it's self gratifying
    "Hey look we're making fun of other movies for doing the same shit we're doing" making fun of a dumb or derisive trope doesn't change the fact that your film still uses the dumb or derisive trope

  18. I find it more creative to criticize what is then to just portray everything as it is but with more fantastic ideas. Just like how rock came from country and rap came from r and b creating something new out of something old is harder than starting from scratch. Just like music and comedy thrive from pointing out things that are normal but in a way not presented before deadpool makes you question what is so great about super hero movies while making fun of all the cliches. If more movies were like this maybe Hollywood would actually make a half decent movie that wasn't completely predictable. I mean virtually every movie has an introduction to the characters, a call to adventure, a dramatic second act and a conclusion that ties it all together.

  19. Society became like an irresponsible child, that needs a guiding force, a goal. It needs to grow up and find responsibility, but right now there is no challenge to respond to.

  20. "Democracy against Communism"… Describing : geometry against squares… Instead of circles against squares (ex: Capitalism Vs Communism), or geometry against algebra (Democracy Vs Dictatorship). The analogy doesn't work… Both democracies and dictatorships have been based either way on communism and capitilism..

  21. As much as I love Deadpool, I feel like his franchise doesn't have the balls to give itself any real
    meaning. It's like they're scared that somebody in the audience won't like their message so
    they make sure everyone knows not to take it seriously. Making real meaning and confidently
    showing it off to everyone takes guts. And I don't think most film producers, or even creators have that.

  22. Dunno man, I feel like Deadpool really gave the stale superhero flick scene a shake. Not just by having a higher rating than the typical Disney-Marvel stuff that's kiddie-friendly and showing blood and strong scenes, but also by being unapologetically funny while genuinely respecting the cathegories of people it portrays. Not just by giving Negasonic etc a girlfriend (which would make her the first open Marvel lesbian character), but also by treating the sex worker like a person, not just as a sexy doll, and especially Vanessa is never disrespected, she's treated exactly like the MCU treats Pepper. If anything, the jokes are only punching up, never punching down, and they're still absolutely funny as hell and they are not the usual flavor of dudebro writing where some minority or women get demeaned, either implicitly or explicitly. And this is especially refreshing because these movies aren't afraid of being crass, and yet they don't disrespect anyone except for the people who always disrespected everyone else.

    As for the philosophy… who cares? There's plenty of movies out there that make very good points, have morals and maybe even teach stuff to the audience. It's not like every feature movie coming out is "post-modern" and cynical. And why should Deadpool be deep or concern itself with common morals? It's just fun. Nothing wrong with some mindless fun. And the same goes for Venom.

  23. yea the thing about self awareness ruining movies these days is ridiculously on point, all these dumb jokes that wink at the audience ruin the whole feeling of the movie being absorbing

  24. The very last beat uses a drum loop from Athe DAW "Propellerhead Reason". Its a loop in the Dr (now 'OctaRex) Rex drum looper.

    Just a fun fact. I heard the drum loop and instantly recognized it

  25. 1 OF deadpools SUPER power's IS HIS awareness OF THE fourth WALL…BEING ABLE TO BREAK THE fourth WALL..really it's 1OF HIS superpowers noshit

  26. The first Deadpool was overrated. DP works better in cameos and small parts where he can show up, make fun of everyone and leave. But everyone loves the hell out of that movie so what do I know

  27. Well done wisecrack using blatantly obvious philosophies and literary references to brush the surface of critical thinking.

  28. Would it have been as good without Ryan Reynolds? It is my favourite "super hero" film. You lost me towards the end. Was Deadpool meant to be such a trailblazer? Couldn't it just be a film to be enjoyed? Over analysed, much? Deadpool made me laugh what else was supposed to do? Be Shakespeare?

  29. As a punk, I think the guy writing this video is a fucking moron. Of course bashing the system changes it.

  30. They weren't trying to "break new ground." Deadpool has always made fun of himself & the comic book medium. The only difference here is it's on a screen instead of on pages.

    Oh, and saying hipsters could bring the downfall of western civilization? They annoy me too, but that's beyond a stretch.

  31. I’ve combined the philosophy of Deadpool and Rick, from Rick and Morty, to achieve ultimate “fuck it.”

  32. To be honest, I think that, individually, it's ok to find joy in small things, and Deadpool, by creating a movie that is essentially just a big joke on Hollywood super hero movies, is providing something philosophically small for us to laugh at. So if itsok to laugh at something small, shouldn't it also be ok to provide something small? Anyway, I loved the movie.

  33. You say that the problem with post modernism is it never really created anything but the stanley parable used it to create something.

  34. the fourth wall break inside the fourth wall break is not the equivalent of sixteen walls!!!. bugs bunny broke more walls in Hair-Raising Hare then this douche.

  35. Wait wait wait…. rip off, or cut rate? Because fuck you “killstroke” yes that’s wrong…. but no one cares. Is a fucking joke and you know it, maybe you don’t because your a patsy, but it’s still vegeta compared to goko you utter child

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