Is our favorite merc with a mouth actually a superhero?
For many Marvel characters, it’s easy to slap a label on them that reads “100% Pure Hero Grade Material.” That’s all well and good, but not everyone so conveniently fits into that mold. Some characters are like that weird, slightly browned meat that reads “Manager’s Special” and you have to think pretty hard about whether or not you trust it enough to actually consume it. Take Deadpool, for instance (we totally didn’t chose him because this blog is about him or anything). He’s a character who does heroic things and has a super powers, but does that make him a superhero?
Sure, he’s a superhero in the sense that he’s a guy who does stuff and has super powers. But when you gleefully blow off people’s heads, we have to start questioning the second half of that moniker. By definition, superheroes are benevolent, and well… Deadpool is more of a noncommittal wavy hand gesture in that department.
How many good deeds make up for one terrible one? How many times must he flirt with death before he becomes a hero (and we really do mean flirt with death)? How many chimichangas does it take to make someone forget all that guilt?
The truth is, Deadpool is one of those characters it’s really hard to define. He has done a lot of bad — A LOT of bad (sooooo much bad) — but he also has done a lot of good over the years. He has saved the world (and destroyed it), he has helped people (and killed at least double that amount). He gleefully gets into fights and stops people from hurting themselves. So is Deadpool a superhero? Well, that’s what we intend to figure out.
Let’s start with the good stuff
Alright, so what boxes does Deadpool get to check off the metaphorical hero list that makes him fit into the “good guy” box? He really does try to help out and be a decent guy — sometimes. We can’t say all the time, because, well, he’s killed the entire Marvel Universe. Twice. And pretty much every major literary character. AND all the Presidents, but they were zombies so that was different. Wait — we said this was the good stuff, so let’s take a step back and talk about that.
Deadpool doesn’t always make the right choices, but he is trying — most of the time. Sure he gets a little carried away, but when push comes to shove, he is doing what he can to be better. He has saved children (on more than one occasion) from getting blown up in fights, so that’s a pretty good start. Protecting innocents (most of the time)? Check.
Sometimes his broken mind also saves the world. While he is often addled, that prevents most people with mind control powers from affecting him. He once helped defeat Red Skull (who had stolen the brain of the dead Professor Xavier and was using it to mind control pretty much everyone — we can’t make this stuff up) because he couldn’t be manipulated. He let Rogue beat the living daylights out of him so that he could slip Magneto’s helmet on her, after which she defeated the Red Skull. He did it because no one else could, and even though he knew he couldn’t beat the Red Skull, he had to do something.
He also has done more morally questionable things, like the time he defeated aliens that took over the world. Oh yeah, they did so by creating world peace (by which we mean taking away all negative emotions). Is it true peace if there is no free will? If you are stripped of parts of yourself in order to get there, is it really peace? It was a hard choice, but in the end he freed people to be who they are. We also like that it involved kicking a brainwashed Captain America in the huevos. You can’t go wrong with a good comedic gonad kick.
He has talked people off of ledges — literally — and he befriended Kid Apocalypse (a clone of a clone of Apocalypse) when most people avoided him. He has been there whenever the Avengers needed him, and has been crucial to the success of so many plans that it’s impossible to discount all of the good he’s done. The problem is, the good isn’t all he does. He has also made a lot of bad decisions. A LOT.
What about the not so good, downright bad stuff?
Wade Wilson is an “ends justify the means” sort of character. If he gets the bad guy, a few people getting hurt along the way is well worth it. This isn’t exactly heroic behavior. He is impulsive, and his impulses are often a little on the violent side (okay, a lot on the violent side). We aren’t Deadpool apologists here. Just because it’s funny doesn’t mean it’s not *@$%-ed up. We have to look at him as fairly as possible to determine if he is actually a superhero, so here we go. Let’s bite the bullet and get this over with.
Let’s start out with the obvious. Deadpool killed the entire Marvel Universe. Everyone. No character is safe. No favorite makes it out. Deadpool realizes the universe is fictional and sets out to end it. And he does. Skillfully. If that wasn’t enough, he carries on to murder pretty much every major literary figure, and caps it off by murdering the entire Marvel Universe again. It’s a brutal rampage that keeps repeating and while it’s just one (actually two) timelines in the Multiverse, it’s still pretty effed up.
Okay, we got the big one out of the way first. How can it get any worse, you ask? How about murdering your pilot because they like the Star Wars prequels? Sure, they are really hard to watch, but straight up murdering someone for that opinion? Funny, but not exactly heroic.
Or how about the time he shot an innocent bystander to keep himself from getting arrested by Daredevil? Definitely not heroic. Actually, about as far from heroic as you can get. Superheroes spend their time protecting the innocent, not shooting them. Yes, he only shot the guy in the leg. Yes, he did it so he could take care of a more important issue. No, the guy didn’t die. But it’s still not something heroes do.
We could keep pulling out the receipts all night, but we think we made our point. Sometimes Deadpool does things that really don’t align with the “hero” part of superhero.
Let’s Break the Fourth Wall to Bring it Home.
Alright, we have a question to answer: Is Deadpool a Superhero? Let’s break it down like Deadpool breaks the fourth wall. He keeps making mistakes. He keeps killing when he could be putting people behind bars. Killing isn’t his last resort; it’s usually his first one. So if being benevolent is required for being a superhero, he surely isn’t. Deadpool is usually classified as an anti-hero, and we have to agree. Mostly. Right now he’s definitely an anti-hero, but he has so much possibility to be more.
The thing is, he is trying to be better. He’s trying so hard to take the opportunities and save the world. He wants to be the good guy. He wants to be the guy riding in on a white horse (or maybe a unicorn. Probably a unicorn) and saving the damsel in distress — but his mind is too fractured to allow it. But that doesn’t stop him. Despite his setbacks, despite failing so many times, he doesn’t stop trying. He idolizes the good guys. He would do anything for Spider-man or Steve Rogers, who prove so often they are the moral heart of the Marvel Universe (just forget Secret Empire ever happened like we do).
The most important thing that makes us see that he could be a true hero one day? Steve Rogers believes in him. Captain America saw so much good in Deadpool that he made him a full-clearance member of the Avengers, despite most of the team disagreeing with his choice. He saw something that not even Wade sees in himself: that he could be a hero. So no, not now, but maybe one day in the future Deadpool will be a superhero. For now, this merc with a mouth is our favorite anti-hero, and we will stand by him until he figures it out.