Nihilism, postmodernism and the prison of irony
dead Pool rocketed up the list of highest-grossing R-rated films of all time, surpassed only by Todd Phillips Joker in 2019. Ryan Reynold’s passion project went from failure to magnum opus; it became an instant hit and eroded its status as a pop culture staple and one of the most beloved superhero films.
dead Pool is an absurd carnival of jaded disillusionment and existential angst masked by cynical mockery and self-aware jokes that push towards antisense, giving a masterclass in being in the right place at the right time and hitting all the right notes. Probably released on The Golden Age of Soft Postmodern Nihilism in the movies, this absurd bloody juggernaut filled with pop culture references, one-liners and profanity, asks what it means to be a hero in the Marvel Universe and beyond.
Deadpool as a deconstruction of the superhero
Deadpool knows he’s a character in a movie, and therefore he knows that ultimately his existence is meaningless. For him, there is no stake, and societal axioms become even more ridiculous. He’ll point out film cliches, breaking the fourth wall, and he’ll wonder if he left the stove on amid the strife. Fighting with a woman, Deadpool wonders if it would be sexist to go all out or refuse to fight her because she’s a woman?
dead Pool dissects the superhero genre, unveiling a world no less horrifying or hopeless than watchmen Where The boys; however, it is self-reflexive enough to make black hysteria palatable to the morbid sense of humor of current generations. Deadpool’s hangout is a seedy mercenary bar that was once a Christian school for wayward girls. Postmodern irony can no longer become literal.
Deadpool is a trickster and a special kind of anti-hero, a ridiculous champion without his shiny armor, a noble damsel or a trusty sidekick. Sarcasm makes a comparison between dead Pool and the postmodern classic Don Quixote. The famous novel was a reflection of the radical skepticism of the time. Cervantes mocked Spanish society by deconstructing great epics about chivalry. Superheroes are in many ways a modern take on the Arthurian Knights, so dead Pool presents itself as the spiritual successor of Don Quixote mocking the death of the romanticism of the past and the overwhelming anguish of no longer having moral codes, religion or science to rely on.
Deadpool as a nihilistic hero
Unlike other superhero movies, dead Pool doesn’t concern itself with the good old thing “saving the world from indescribable evil”. Wade isn’t even a good person to begin with, and he fervently resists being labeled a “hero”. The film’s conflict is absolutely personal and even turns out to be rather trivial (as Vanessa quickly accepted her new face and the experiments actually cured Wade’s cancer).
Throughout the story, however, we see Deadpool go through, dare we mention it, a fairly standard hero’s journey. The first film, a tale of revenge, ends with Deadpool once again rejecting “superheroism”, as he kills Francis without hesitation, even as Colossus begs to hit the high road.
If Vanessa gives meaning to Wade’s life by dead Pool, in the second episode, she becomes his virtue guide, judge, and reward, serving as an amalgamation of romantic interest and mentor figure. At the film’s climax, Deadpool sacrifices himself for someone else – and even delays gratification, willingly parting ways with Vanessa again. His literal rebirth symbolizes his figurative rebirth, as a true hero, changing from selfish to selfless. Deadpool reads both wacky and heartfelt “Arthurian Knight”a bit like Lancelot, who obeys the lady of his heart even if it means going against his way of life.
Jack Fisher suggests a similar idea, declaring Deadpool a perfect nihilistic hero. Instead of wreaking havoc like Joker or living in misanthropy like Rick Sanchez of rick and morty, Deadpool understands that life is meaningless, but that doesn’t mean his actions are meaningless. Unlike brooding superheroes who have to choose one or the other, Wade can be both selfish and selfless no matter what his mood. Sometimes it even serves as the best entertainment and gauge for the character development of dead Pool; as Fisher writes of the nihilistic film, “In a meaningless universe, you can be a selfless hero. You can also be a greedy asshole. It doesn’t matter anyway. The only thing that matters, in the context of nihilism , is that someone chooses it because they want to and not because they think it serves a higher purpose”.
Deadpool and the Prison of Irony
Irony in pop culture comes from a dark place of dissatisfaction and disillusionment. The best satirical films brutally attack dominant power structures and ideologies, proving both funny and extremely effective as critiques. The rise of modern irony reflects how millennials, claimed to be the lost new generation, and Zoomers are stuck in a scorching hot world with no sanctuary – literally, like these days most can’t even afford to own a home and resort to renting, in a world of rising temperatures. As Livereal writes: “The idea of life as a rational, coherent and well-ordered system simply does not correspond to everyday experience. It is a failure of rationalism. This is not a celebration of irrationalism, just an acknowledgment that the rational, as normally presented, is like trying to measure a tornado with a slide rule.”
With access to the internet, young people are constantly surrounded by information: floods, fires, ecological disasters, wars, poverty, hunger and social injustice – and there is a widespread feeling of anxiety because no one can struggle so much to take care of all causes and lead a 100% sustainable lifestyle. Feeling that the older generation has duped them, the newer generations become cynical and scoff wickedly at the “good old days.” dead Pool poking fun at scout superheroes and the nonsense of life hits them squarely.
Every generation has a counterculture, and the irony is usually nothing avant-garde, but it largely belonged outside of capitalism and authority. However, today’s irony has moved from outsider to mainstream, finding itself in a paradoxical position of endless superficial reference cycles with the inability to create new ideas. Late capitalism is so powerful that it even swallows and incorporates its own criticisms, as seen, for example, with the announcement of reality TV based on squid game.
The search for sincerity in Deadpool 3
Hollywood references itself mindlessly, with endless gags, reboots, remakes, revivals, and adaptations of other mediums, whether comic books or video games, leaving virtually no room for original movie making. . The movies use the same tired formula and tropes, but now they’re spicing up some witty, self-aware remarks. dead Pool is a perfect example, from the very titles where he called his cast, not with their names but their tropes: A British Villain, A Hot Chick, etc.
The major problem is that poking fun at a cliche and still using it without subverting it in any way isn’t as groundbreaking as it sounds. By preventing audiences from experiencing truly heroic or emotional moments on screen, Hollywood still uses the same structures and cliches, but alienates viewers from any form of sincerity so that they feel new and smart (as opposed to more naïve or discriminatory old ones). But how long can this ironic, self-referential distance stay smart and fresh? We wonder if Dead Pool 3 will actually attempt some sincerity, which would (ironically) be even more subversive in these days of corporate postmodernity.
As David Foster Wallace predicted, “At one time, irony was used to reveal hypocrisies, but now it simply acknowledges its cultural conformity and familiarity with pop trends. The art of irony has lost its vision and its edge. The rebellious posture of the past has been annexed by the very commercialism it sought to challenge. So the question is: how does art move from cynicism and irony to sincerity? Whether dead Pool is great deconstruction and a new modern take on heroism, or is it just another corny exploitation relying on the capitalist assimilation of irony, it’s up to the viewer to decide.