"Not the Hero You Want, But the Hero You Need"
The trailers were exciting, and each one released on YouTube and Facebook only fed my interest. There was something about the katana-wielding ugly jokester of red-suited fury that I connected with. I had no idea what I was in for.
I have severe PTSD from the 50 shades of hell I've been through, and was a bit worried I might not be able to handle the violence. But unlike with the 6 months' forced diet of ultra-violent horror flicks (I'm more into "Beetlejuice"), at least this time I had some idea of what I was going to see.
Plus, at least Deadpool can crack a joke. So unlike "You're Next!" or "6 Souls", I could laugh. And laugh I did, oh my god I couldn't stop cracking up. It was 108 minutes of pure feel-good badassery. It was nothing that I'd ever expected. Something inside me grinned and screamed, "Chimichanga!" I was no longer hurting -- I was fighting back at my own inner bad guys.
During those two hours, Deadpool may have been the hero (or anti-hero, or not the hero, whatevs), but he taught me five important lessons on what "being a hero" truly means. As a tribute to the Merc, here they are.
(WARNING: Spoiler alert. Deal with it. Better yet, see the movie before you continue reading.)
Lesson #1: "Maximum Effort!" Accepts Nothing Less
The premise behind "Deadpool" is that Wade Wilson, an ex-mercenary who troubleshoots for clients who have cash but don't have questions, meets Vanessa at a nightclub and eventually builds a relationship. Right after he proposes (well, actually she does), they discover the tough guy is dying from advanced cancer.
Right when he's got it all... he's about to lose everything.
Out of options, Wilson accepts an offer from a mysterious agent (Jed Rees) to cure him and, as an added bonus, give him superpowers. Although it means being away from his fiancee, with no idea how long it'd be, the deal's made... and whatever pain the ex-mercenary had endured in the past, that was only the beginning of what "pain" truly is.
Once admitted into the medical facility, Wilson is summarily "treated" by a nefarious mutant scientist named Ajax (Ed Skrein). When confronted about his name actually being "Francis", Ajax decides that the best way to break the incorrigible smartass was to break every bone in his body. Suffocation, drowning, death fights, electrocution, stabbings, it didn't matter how severely Wilson was injured, it didn't matter how severely Wilson suffered...
...Deadpool stood right back up every time, laughing: "That tickled... now it's my turn!" The Merc with a Mouth knew that there's no greater pain than losing someone he was willing to die for.
Lesson #2: You Aren't A Freak, Even If You Feel Like One
Returning to the old hangout after blowing up the medical facility, Wilson shows Weasel (T.J. Miller) his new face. Needless to say, his best friend's a bit amused in a horrifyingly fascinating way which involves avocados. In the ensuing discussion, the top priority becomes finding Francis to repair what was done. That way, Vanessa wouldn't run away screaming from the Quasimodo coming back into her life.
The fear of losing his fiancee was so great that Wilson couldn't approach her on the sidewalk. He could feel and see everyone's eyes staring at him, gazing upon the monster in the hoodie. They were whispering in fear and terror.
That moment, watching Vanessa walk into their old apartment building alone, Francis hurt Wilson far worse than the treatment ever did. That moment, Deadpool decided it was payback time -- chimichanga style.
Renting a room with an elderly woman named Blind Al (Leslie Uggams) while wiping out Francis' army of henchmen, Wilson focuses his anger and pain on only one goal: get the bastard to fix his face, like promised. With each dead body, Deadpool got closer -- and then some old friends crashed the battle that could've finished the war.
Colossus (voiced by Stefan Kapicic), Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), and the now very-annoyed Deadpool have some words... and, again out of options, team up to rescue Vanessa while stopping Francis once and for all.
Fighting alongside the two X-Men, Wilson learns that even if you feel like a freak, you're not a freak at all; your unique abilities and qualities bring a much greater level of possibilities.
Lesson #3: Family Never Leaves You Behind
Admittedly, this is a very tough lesson to learn because it involves pride. We go through life every day in the belief that we can take on the world, that we could even defeat gods without effort. Our friends come and go when everything's normal. But when the shit hits the fan...
...you finally realize you don't have friends, you got family.
Wilson's terrified of losing Vanessa because he thinks he's not the man she fell in love with -- but coming after Francis like hell-bent leather on wheels to protect her, only proved he's the man she never stopped loving.
Colossus, a gentle giant who's always there for his team, isn't afraid to occasionally smack cold-steel reality into Deadpool. Negasonic's bratty and brutally standoffish, because her strength and power isn't for the weak and timid. Separately, they're discordant; united in battle, they're even more powerful. Even the "lone wolf" Merc learns to accept that, sometimes, going it alone isn't giving "Maximum Effort!"
And Vanessa grows stronger in the darkest nights of Wilson's absence, believing that one day dawn will return -- even two years later, when Francis kidnaps and tortures her.
Family squabbles, and has its differences, but protects its own every time.
Lesson #4: Know When To Finish The Fight...
Deadpool has only one goal -- find Francis and get him to fix his face. After that, maybe kill him as thanks. It's the only thing he's fighting for, to get his life and fiancee back... or so he thinks. Even after being impaled on a steel rebar before the medical facility collapses on him, even after being suffocated in a pressure chamber, even after putting up with the ironclad X-Man's naive nature (and the human nuke's acidic sarcasm), the Merc keeps fighting for that one goal.
And at the end, his gun aimed at Francis' head, Deadpool discovers that what he endured so much for... never even existed. So he made a decision.
It wasn't an easy decision (at least, not to Colossus' stomach!), but the only thing more painful than giving "Maximum Effort!" for what is impossible... is to walk away from what is possible.
Life isn't black-and-white. Being a hero sometimes means you win the battle while losing the war.
Lesson #5: ...And Know When The Fight's Finished
After Deadpool "thanks" Francis for not keeping his promise, Vanessa helps bring Wilson back from the abyss he's endured for so long. The darkest night ends, and in the eyes of his "future baby mama" dawn arrives.
"I don't know what to do, Vanessa," Wilson tells her. "This is all I've known for so long, the fighting, and now... it's finished. It's over. There's nothing left. I'm done, babe... I'm done fighting."
At that point, Deadpool has his final victory. The ex-mercenary's finally at peace, and despite the horrors both visual and mental, he still has it all -- and is a better man because of the trust and love of a woman who promised she'd be there, every step of the way.
A Survivor's Gratitude To The Legend
Thank you, Stan Lee, for showing what makes a true hero (even if he insists he isn't one.) And for doing the strip club DJ cameo -- cripes, man, if that doesn't scream "Excelsior!" then I don't know what does!
--Nick Moore, Tougher Than Wolverine
I'd love to hear your questions and thoughts on this topic in the comments section below, or by emailing me at ProjectAsylumMagazine@Gmail.com. If you like Tougher Than Wolverine and want to share it with others, by all means do so (and give credit where credit is due, please!)