I was initially going to write an article about Deadpool and pansexual representation.
However, upon reading a few articles that either discuss the topic better than I can or attempt to brush it to the side, I’ve decided I’d rather write about Deadpool, queercoding, queerbaiting, and fandom. Mostly fandom.
Turns out, as I was outlining, this is a huge subject. So, I’d like to make this a three-part piece, each part coming out in the middle of the month; perhaps more frequently, but I’d like to give myself some time to go see the Deadpool movie (I work full-time and like to use my off-time for personal projects and sleep). With that in mind, here’s part one:
Deadpool and the f*ckboys who won’t let go
Now, since I’ve read articles about Deadpool (movie) and the interview with his co-creator, I’ve come to the sad conclusion that many of the writers and contributors (including those involved with the movie, esp. Ryan Reynolds) might want Deadpool to be openly pan, he’s more often–knowlingly–used as a tool for queerbaiting and a kind of queercoding.
First off, I’ve never seen Deadpool be rampantly no-homo, which is good. That mentality that is a subcategory of toxic masculinity is, well, toxic and very boring. The worst we get with Deadpool and his lack of heteronormativity is kind of a throw-away joke.
Sure, there’s the allusion to his being at least bisexual, but it’s clean forgotten by the next page. Or, I guess the worst is how we do have those allusions, but Deadpool is only ever seen actively pursuing women. Even his non-traditional relationships are heteronormative.
Pretty alien-looking, right? I mean, except for the breasts.
Guys, they made Death a woman. Death, the concept, a woman. I know, I know, Neil Gaiman blahblahblah. But, that Death never gets romantic with anyone. Or, if she does, it’s with everyone.
So, while Deadpool himself has never been “no-homo” his writers certainly have been. Or, in an effort to seem totally open-minded, Nicieza (Deadpool co-creator), has said in response to the DP=Pan question,
Sorry, but anyone who writes such an extended column trying to ‘prove’ Deadpool’s sexuality does not understand Deadpool’s sexuality. […] Not trying to be dismissive, but readers always want to ‘make a character their own’ and often that is to the exclusion of what the character might mean to other fans. I’ve been dogged with the DP sexuality questions for YEARS. It is a bit tiring. He is NO sex and ALL sexes. He is yours and everyone else’s. So not dismissive, but rather the epitome of inclusive.(Meagan Damore)
That would have passed for accepting back in the 90’s. Now, it’s a weak cop-out.
What’s worse. What’s even worse, what transcends literary devices and weak plot points, is how Deadpool has been used as a new form of queercoding. In another “no labels” gambit, Nicieza claims Deadpool’s sexuality is a direct result of his particular brand of insanity:
Pressed on how he views Deadpool’s sexuality, he explained, “Have answered so many times. DP brain cells are in CONSTANT FLUX. He can be gay one minute, hetero the next, etc. ALL ARE VALID. […] They (nor you) understand DP brain cells in CONSTANT FLUX so he is hetero one minute, gay the next, etc. ALL ARE VALID,” he added when another fan brought up current “Deadpool”[.] (Meagan Damore)
In the attempt to make what he believes as non-shitty as possible, Nicieza has fallen in line with the archaic/debunked belief that homosexuality is either a sign of mental illness or is a mental illness in it of itself.
If Deadpool himself was a throw-away joke of a character, then fine. Whatever. But, he’s not. Deadpool is tragic and complicated. Sorta, like, you know, the people–queer and non-neurotypical–he could be used to better represent in popular culture.
Not idealized, clearly painful. Just like real people. And, just like real people, Deadpool is in always in the throes of coping. His method of choice: introspection and comedy. It’s why we love him.
…Part 2, next month