Deadpool: Movie Review
Why we're recommending young Christians avoid this film.
This is not an easy review to write. While there is a lot to like about Deadpool, I can not recommend it. In fact, if you are a Christian, I recommend that you avoid this movie. Especially if you are under 18. Now, I know in Australia (where I live) you can legally see this movie if you are 15 or over. Younger if you see it with your parents. But let me explain why I think this is a bad idea.
Deadpool is a movie that I've been looking forward to for a long time. I fell in love with the character when I first discovered his comic book back in 1998. A picture of Deadpool featured on the invitations to my 21st birthday party. So when a Deadpool movie was announced, starring Ryan Reynolds (one of my favourite actors), I got a little bit excited. Actually, that's a lie. I got a lot excited. Out of all the movies being released in 2016, this is the one I was most excited for.
As I began to think critically about the film, I realised that there were some things that troubled me. And I think they are some pretty significant things.
For those of you coming into this review knowing nothing about Deadpool, let me give you a quick rundown. Deadpool is Wade Wilson, a mercenary with connections to the X-Men. The same shady characters who gave Wolverine his metal bones gave Deadpool the ability to heal from any wound and disfigured face to go with it. Now he wears a mask and is tracking down the man who did this to him, with the aim of getting his Ryan Reynolds pretty face back and reuniting with the love of his life - Vanessa. The thing that sets Deadpool apart from other superheroes is that he is essentially a bloodthirsty Bugs Bunny in a spandex costume. He never stops with the jokes and is fully aware that he is a character in a movie, frequently stopping to talk directly to the audience.
Ryan Reynolds is the perfect choice to play Deadpool. He is funny and charming and gets what makes the character work. This movie never takes itself seriously and is constantly making fun the whole superhero movie genre. In that respect, this is the perfect movie for me. It's like Tumblr put on a costume and started shooting bad guys. I'm down for that.
But here's the problem - the creators of this movie wanted to make a MA rated movie (R in the USA). Now I'm okay with that in theory. I can respect that they wanted to make a superhero movie for adults. But in doing so, they pushed the envelope as far as it can go. And I think they pushed it too far. I'm not going to go into too much detail. I don't think that would be helpful. But there is full frontal nudity, including a scene in a strip club that was completely gratuitous. The swearing is constant. Child abuse is treated as the punchline to a joke that goes way too far. There are references to and visual suggestions of sex acts that 20 years ago would have only been found in pornography. And to be honest? I think there should be a limit on how many decapitations there are in a movie that's not called Highlander.
I'm not sure why it's this movie that has me troubled and not other questionable movies I've seen in the past. Maybe it's because my heart is telling me that it was unhelpful for me to have seen and heard those things. Maybe it's because of the post-modern nature of this film, with the main character engaging directly with us as the viewer, that these things seem immediate and involving rather than distant and detached. Or maybe it's because this is a Marvel superhero movie - I've been reading the Deadpool comic for nearly 20 years and it's never been this violent or "adult".
There's going to be a lot of pressure to go see this movie. The marketing campaign has been the best I've ever seen. It's connected with both Marvel and the X-Men - two of the strongest comic book movie franchises. It seems like everyone is talking about it. But I think you should consider not seeing this film.
I am going to encourage you to do something that I wish I could retroactively do - be counter cultural. Instead of doing the same thing as everyone else in the world, I want to encourage you to take a stand and be different. Choose not to see Deadpool because it will be unhelpful to your godliness.
In Mark 9, Jesus is talking to his disciples. He warns them of the dangers of stumbling in the faith. That is better to cut off your hand than be tempted into sin and fall away from the kingdom. Mark 9:50 says "Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again?Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other." Salt makes food distinctive, makes it stand out. If it looses it's flavour, it's worthless. Be distinctive as a Christian. Be the salt. Stand out among the crowd because you follow Jesus. Let the world look at you and notice that you are different. Because if you lose your saltiness, if you look just like everyone else, then you are in danger of of stumbling. One way you can stand out and be different is to chose not to see this film. Make it clear that you don't think it will be beneficial to your devotion to Jesus. Go against the flow. Be counter cultural.
I chose to watch this movie. But I wonder if I could have been a better servant of Jesus, a better representative of him in this world, if I had decided not to watch it. If you are a Christian, think very hard before choosing to see this movie. If you are under 18, don't see it yet. If you are an adult, make an adult decision. Be aware that Deadpool will not help you follow Jesus. In fact, it may do more harm than good.