Sexualized Saturdays: Deadpool, Pansexuality, and LGBTQ+ Issues

Deadpool_Bearskin

Probably the biggest thing I have been stressing in my past reviews of Deadpool is the character’s pansexuality and whether or not the movie would portray him accurately. I was extremely dubious that any hint of Deadpool being queer would make it into the movie, but to my pleasant surprise, his sexuality was at least hinted at—though I wouldn’t exactly call this movie a win for queer comic book fans.

I have heard some people claim that it is especially difficult for bi/pansexual people to be represented in movies and TV shows because they have to be shown with more than one partner in order to truly represent that. This is especially hard to fulfill in comic book movies, where our usually male hero almost always starts off with a female love interest that fans expect to be in the movie. I’m sorry, but I’m not buying this theory, especially not after watching shows like Shadowhunters, which had no issue establishing Magnus Bane as bisexual right away. All it really takes is referencing a past love interest or showing the character flirting with people of various genders. The Deadpool movie wasn’t going to give me Deadpool in a homosexual relationship, because Vanessa, aka Copycat, was going to be featured in the movie as his girlfriend. But I hoped against hope that we would still see Deadpool making interested comments about men and women and maybe even a reference to a past male relationship. I was extremely worried that no attempt at showing Deadpool’s pansexuality would be seen at all. However, while there was nothing overt, the movie did seem to code Deadpool as queer.

Deadpool often makes sexual comments about the men in the movie (and even some not in the movie, like Hugh Jackman). Deadpool also is on the receiving end when he engages in anal sex with Vanessa in the movie (to celebrate International Women’s Day! Yay!) and while hetero couples can and do like anal sex, it at least shows that Deadpool is open to it. However, he doesn’t necessarily seem to enjoy it—later in the movie he refers to the prostate as the on button, so perhaps the previous scene was just his first attempt with anal sex? Whatever the case, the movie leaves things unclear. Add to this things like his RENT t-shirt, Bernadette Peters coin purse, and discussion of Robin being in love with Batman, and we have evidence that he likes some stereotypically queer things—but because all these things are just stereotypically “gay”, it doesn’t mean that a character is queer. So sadly, everything could be easily brushed off as just “silly Deadpool” if the studio wanted. We’ll have to see if the next movie explores his sexuality or continues to leave things ambiguous.

There is some hope for the next movie, however. If you stayed until after the credits there was no teaser for the next Deadpool film, but rather Deadpool himself appears and tells the audience that Cable will be in the next movie. If you don’t know who Cable, aka Nathan Summers, is, he is the son of Scott Summers (Cyclops) and Jean Grey—well, a clone of Jean Grey, it’s kind of complicated story. Anyway, Cable is also a time traveler who knows how shitty the future turns out and is constantly trying to fix things in the past to make a better future. Deadpool and Cable ran across each other a lot in the comics and eventually the two were given their own comic book. There are a lot of moments between them that makes things seem like the two could be interested in each other. Assuming Vanessa will be in the next movie and still Deadpool’s girlfriend, it might be unlikely that anything happens between Cable and Deadpool unless the movie goes along the lines of a polyamorous relationship or at least a threesome. It will be interesting to see where the writers take Deadpool and Cable’s relationship, and if we’ll finally get more than just hints at Deadpool’s queerness.

Though the Deadpool movie did better than I expected when it came to at least hinting that Deadpool is queer, there is one area that the movie did pretty poorly in and that’s trans issues. The only thing I was truly upset about as far as queer issues go was the transphobic and sexist comment that Deadpool threw at Angel. Angel is a villainous female character with super strength who is working for our main villain, Ajax. At one point when Angel grabs Deadpool roughly by the throat, his response is to say she is too strong to be a woman and that he’s “calling wang on that one”. It was the only part I didn’t laugh at. I didn’t care; it wasn’t funny. Most of the jokes in this movie were either delightfully raunchy or subversive, but neither of these was the case when it came to this joke. It was inappropriate and a poorly timed joke that I did not appreciate, no matter how brief the moment was.

I say that the movie did better than I was expecting when it came to queer issues, but I went in expecting that Deadpool would be straightwashed, so the bar wasn’t really that high to begin with. Deadpool has the potential to be the first leading queer character in a Marvel movie, so I certainly hope that future movies will do better and continue to raise the bar when it comes to queer representation.


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4 thoughts on “Sexualized Saturdays: Deadpool, Pansexuality, and LGBTQ+ Issues

  1. You are waaay more optimistic about this than I am. I have absolutely NO confidence that Hollywood will ever depict gay/bisexual/pansexual/ polyamorous relationships in a superhero movie, anytime soon.

    My bar is set pretty low and I’m happy we got even the tiny hints of subversiveness in DeadPool, but it’s just hints that can be easily overlooked, while those looking for representation have to carefully parse the dialogue to find it.

    That’s not satisfactory to me. I need representation to be explicit, and not something easily overlooked by the delicate feelings of bigots.

  2. I’m cautiously optimistic…

    In his first non-costumed appearance in the film, Wade was wearing–if I saw it correctly–a Bea Arthur shirt under his jacket, and he appears in that same shirt for an extended period of time when we see him doing his various merc works and going to the bar that first time the bar appears in the film, etc. I don’t know very many straight men who even know who Bea Arthur is, much less that she’s a major gay icon. So, there’s that.

    There was also the kiss on the pizza delivery guy’s nose; and when he got shot in the big scene on the road, didn’t he say “that went up main street” at one point, which hinted at him not liking anal penetration? But that’s important in its own way: just because a character is queer doesn’t mean they have to like anal play of any sort, and he might just be in that category…despite the fun of watching him get (uncomfortably but consensually) pegged by Vanessa.

    And, there was also the cartoon Deadpool’s various levels of erection at the end credits, and the “biggest” reaction being not to his actor or Vanessa’s, but to the actor playing Ajax. As erections are an autonomic response rather than something which one can bring about consciously, I think we have to take that as a hint, too.

    Not that I was counting, mind you, but anyway…!?! I suppose we have to take representation where we can get it, but be realistic about what level of it we’re getting, and critical as necessary, which you’re right to do here.

  3. Whoaaa I missed the “calling wang” comment. Was that at the same part as the “aren’t you a little strong for a woman”? Because I was paying really close attention then and I didn’t hear it (although I admittedly am hard of hearing so). Dammit, I thought that was the only, maybe-not-Horribly-transmisogynistic comment.😦

  4. I’d like to leave this here:
    1) The first time I ever heard of pansexuality was in sociology class in university two years ago and I didn’t really understand it from the text I read about it, nor did I care much. I can definitely say that reading (about) Deadpool gave me a better idea of and view on pansexuality.
    2) Just think of all the things that wouldn’t have been in the movie or would have been treated completely differently if Wade/Deadpool had been arranged as straight.
    3) Isn’t he a representation of pansexual people who’s current partners just happen to be of the opposite gender in the first movie? Or people who identify as pansexual, but didn’t have different kinds of partners yet?
    4) Someone came up with the theory that him not liking the act of pegging can be due to his prostate gland cancer. (I hate it when people say it was because “it’s too gay for him” or that Vanessa forced him into trying it.)

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