Collider: Can you talk about the tantalizing fireside photo that you guys put out. Does this mean it will be a very hypersexualized Deadpool?
Miller: Pansexual! I want that quoted. Pansexual Deadpool.
Reynolds: There is some sexuality in this movie for sure. You kinda think you have moments when you’re shooting where you think, “This is, uh, a little excessive. This is a comic book movie. Are we gonna get away with this?” But so far so good. Studio hasn’t crushed us with anything. They were here yesterday, they were thrilled, they saw some cut footage and so far so good. We did a photo shoot for an entire day of just different, completely insane things that Deadpool is doing and there’s a lot more to come. They’ll be slowly released.
Collider: All Burt Reynolds inspired?
Reynolds: No, it wasn’t all Burt inspired. A little Dolly Parton in there. Got some unicorn fucking. A few things, I’m sure a lot, that will never ever see the light of day. Or, maybe they will if I have anything to do with it…
On its face, this is totally a good thing! Wade Wilson is pansexual, because the director of the movie says so! We have our first canonically queer Marvel cinematic superhero! Marvel’s most hilarious, ultraviolent, fourth-wall-shattering antihero is (fingers crossed!) getting the hilarious, ultraviolent, fourth-wall-shattering movie he deserves!
But just so we don’t get our hopes up, I suspect that Deadpool’s pansexuality—however much Miller wants it “quoted”— isn’t actually going to feature in the movie.
I talked to a source who attended an early test screening of the film a few weeks ago, and, based on their recollection of that version, there’s no indication that Wade is anything other than straight. Apparently, [MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD], Wade’s relationship with Morena Baccarin’s character represents his only romantic or sexual interest throughout the film. No hints, no jokes, no flirting, no subtext. There are a couple of dirty jokes about dick sucking (Deadpool calls Colossus a “big chrome cockgobbler,” like you do), but surely I don’t have to explain that offhand cracks about gay sex aren’t evidence of someone’s sexuality. Right? Right.
I want to be clear that this characterization is based on one person’s recollection of an unfinished version of the movie, so it’s not necessarily indicative of what will or won’t be in the final cut. In fact, Deadpool is doing reshoots in Vancouver this very week, so the content of the movie is still very possibly in flux.
It’s also not entirely clear exactly what Miller and Reynolds are referring to when they reference the movie’s “sexuality” or the “insane” photo shoot they completed recently. Based on my source’s description, the “excessive” sexual content might refer to a racy (and, I quote, “awesome”) sex montage between Baccarin and Reynolds. And, based on my own reading, the “different, completely insane things” in the photo shoot sound like they’re going to be “slowly released” as promotional material, similar to this amazing image. Sure, maybe they’ll be in the movie somehow—in some kind of Hangover-style credits montage, perhaps?—but I’m guessing that sexually-charged still images may not exactly live up to the “pansexual Deadpool” hype.
So, assuming that my (very speculative) speculations are correct, what exactly was Miller getting at by emphasizing Wade’s sexuality in that interview?
Just to pre-empt any criticism, I want to be clear here that I’m talking about a fictional character. (This is actually kind of hilarious, because I’m talking about Deadpool, but anyway.) So when I wonder out loud why a movie about a “pansexual” (OK, Tim Miller—I quoted you) character doesn’t have any actual pansexual content, I’m not making demands about how actual bi/pan people conduct themselves or represent their sexualities.
After all, there’s a lot of really ridiculous and harmful misunderstandings about how pansexuality and bisexuality actually work. There are plenty of misconceptions that we’re attracted to literally everyone all the time. Or that we can’t be monogamous or faithful. Or that we’re completely equally attracted to every gender an equal amount.
So, when I raise questions about what pansexuality should actually look like onscreen, I’m not talking about demands or expectations I’d have of Wade Wilson, if he were (lol) an actual person. It’s totally normal and okay to identify as pansexual and have just one monogamous relationship, the way that Wade does in the movie. You don’t have to be constantly flirting with and coming on to everything and everyone at all times to be pansexual. You don’t have to be totally, outrageously “out,” and you don’t have to talk about it all the time. There’s no one way it has to “look.”
However, Wade is not a real person, guys. (Actually, I’m pretty sure that he’s pretty sure he’s a fictional character, but I digress.) It’s completely reasonable that a real person might fall in love with a woman and then get turned into a scientifically-enhanced mercenary and then go on a (literally) insane and bloody quest for revenge and never once explicitly identify their sexuality. But fictional characters have their sexualities created and written and acted and filmed by other people, and we definitely can and should hold those people responsible for their creations.
So, what was Miller really talking about? It’s totally possible that his intentions are good, and he’s giving an irreverent but well-meaning shout-out to a neglected aspect of the character. And I’m all for a queer Deadpool! It makes a kind of literary sense that the meta-est character in comics thinks “outside the panels” in terms of sexuality. Plus, I especially like the implication that he’s this comic-savvy, in-jokey fan-favorite and he’s not just another straight white guy, you know?
But, even among fans and creators who acknowledge or embrace Deadpool’s canonical pansexuality, there tend to be some pretty gross assumptions and stereotypes that go along with that. There are people who conflate Wade’s sexuality with his mental and physical illnesses, as Fabian Nicieza infamously did a few months ago. Deadpool doesn’t know who he is, so therefore he doesn’t know who he likes!
Or, there’s the implication—see Reynold’s comments above—that Deadpool is pansexual because he’s hypersexual. He’s a horny guy, so he’ll sleep with anyone and everyone. It’s kind of an easy shorthand for “edgy.” Sex with unicorns! Sex with men! Completely insane!
Basically, Miller and Reynolds want to be cool and funny and shocking, the same way that an old lady cursing is shocking, or four guys getting headshot by the same bullet is shocking. I just hope that they’re not using Deadpool’s “pansexuality” (there’s that quote again) as a shield for making homophobic jokes with impunity. A Deadpool movie should be totally crude and offensive, but it should also be actually funny, and “LOL GAY” is not a punchline—it’s punching down.
And what’s really at stake, here? Well, obviously I want the movie to be good. And I am legitimately excited that a Marvel superhero movie will star a canonically LGBTQIA+ protagonist. But the fact of the matter is, if we’re looking for “positive” representation, Wade Wilson is probably not what we’re looking for. The guy’s a murderer for hire. He’s totally amoral. A GLAAD posterboy, he ain’t.
But just because Deadpool is R-rated and amoral doesn’t mean his pansexuality has to be. If Deadpool’s defining characteristic is that he just Gives Zero Fucks, then surely we can have a big-screen version who’s openly attracted to people of all genders. He can awkwardly flirt and make sexy comments and fall in weird, dorky love—the same way he does in the comics—and it can all be part of the joke: that the normal rules need not apply.
Image courtesy of FOX
Mad Moll Green writes in Los Angeles and Vancouver. She loves horror movies, comic books, and ironic spandex.