I’ve been thinking a lot about the Deadpool movie since seeing it last weekend. It was not one of my favorite Marvel-based movies. Many people found the movie transgressive, as an R-rated risk for Marvel properties and a reaction against the overly serious DC movies and tones of the upcoming X-Men: Apocalypse and Captain America: Civil War films. One of the conversations coming out of Deadpool aka Wade Wilson being turned into a film is Deadpool’s position as a pansexual comic character.
Let me be clear: Deadpool, in no way, shows attraction toward men in the film.
We can argue and debate subtext or queerbaiting all day, but there’s nothing in the entire film for the average straight person to say, “Wow, Deadpool also likes men.”
If anything, Deadpool cracks a few gay jokes like it’s 1990. In an early scene, Wade causes a bar fight when he sends a drink called a ‘blow job’ to another male mercenary, saying it’s from yet another one. The two men then get into a fight because no homo. The scene would’ve been more transgressive had the two men made a joke or just been like “hey, thanks, but no thanks” like it’s 2016.
Pre-movie, director Tim Miller stated that he knew and wanted to keep Deadpool pansexual like the comics. But he didn’t include any directly homoerotic scenes in the final movie. If nothing else, the plot of Deadpool centers around Wade’s heterosexual romance with Vanessa, fear of her possible rejection, and ultimately the need to save her from the villain.
As a pansexual person, parts of my own story could easily be written from a straight point-of-view. But there were many opportunities to show Wade’s sexuality as more than straight. While Wade likes a few queer-coded things (Bea Arthur, Bernadette Peters, Wham!), it’s almost more powerful to tell straight men that it’s okay to like these things.
One scene, mentioned in many reviews, is the sex scene where Vanessa fucks Wade with a strap-on. Liking anal penetration does not mean you are gay. Let me repeat that: everyone has a butt, and everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, can enjoy anal penetration. Not everyone does, just like not everyone enjoys every aspect of sex and asexual people don’t like any sex.
Enjoying anal penetration is not an experience limited to gay men. In 2006, the CDC’s survey on sexual behaviors in the US “showed that 38.2 percent of men between 20 and 39 and 32.6 percent of women ages 18 to 44 engage in heterosexual anal sex.” Which was up ~10% from 1992. Wade enjoying being pegged by his girlfriend is not out of the norm. Again, this scene functions as more transgressive if we assume Deadpool to be straight. It might’ve also been more progressive if Wade’s face looked like he enjoyed it.
Would it be great to have a mainstream movie lead — which made $132.4 million opening weekend — be pansexual? Yes. Can we already count Deadpool as a pansexual icon in this movie? No.
Most people watching Deadpool have no idea he’s pansexual in the comics. There is no correlation of upticks in sales of superhero comics when superhero movies come out, and most people going to superhero movies have not and will not read the comics. If it’s not explicit in the film, most moviegoers will have no clue.
When Deadpool actor Ryan Reynolds was asked about Deadpool’s sexuality, he said “I love that about Deadpool. I love that he can break any boundary. In the future, I hope we get to do that more.” And when point blank asked if he’d be open to Deadpool having a boyfriend in the future, he said, “I certainly wouldn’t be the guy standing in the way of that. That would be great.”
I, for one, will believe it when I see it. And yeah, I’m tired of getting of crumbs from Hollywood.