Deadpool 2 is a funny, R-rated superhero movie, which means it’s time for the waves of stories about how you shouldn’t take your children to see it. Social media is lit up with reports of people going to the theater, only to see small children watching Deadpool 2, which shouldn’t shock anyone who’s watched an R-rated movie in the theater in the past decade.
I’m not sure when it happened, but toddlers coming with their parents to see R-rated films has become a thing. I don’t get it either.
[Warning: This post contains major spoilers for Deadpool and Deadpool 2.]
But I’m here to tell you something a bit different. Maybe you shouldn’t take your 8-year-old to Deadpool 2, sure, although your 8-year-old probably already knows how to curse and wield katanas. But your teenagers? Anyone around 14 on up? Go for it. It will do them some good.
Deadpool is a series for the family
Here is a series of topics that will come up while watching Deadpool 1 and 2: treating sex workers with respect, what an IUD is, pegging and masturbation. That’s not an exhaustive list, but it’s enough for this article — and more than you can say for most films, let alone superhero ones.
I’m not trying to be snarky when I say that discussing these topics actually is something you should be doing with your kids anyway. And the Deadpool movies treat sexuality and emotions in a mature, somewhat realistic manner. It’s weird to have a movie with this much graphic violence and cursing often feel so wholesome, but here we are.
It was this line in a USA Today article about the original Deadpool that made me want to write this piece:
(Trust me, there were some things in [the sex montage] you don’t want to explain to your kids, not just not yet but maybe not ever.)
Which part is hard to explain? Sex workers are humans who you should treat with respect? That sex can be a fun and playful way to connect with someone? That some men and women like to have their asses stimulated, because there’s a big bundle of nerves up there and feeling good doesn’t have anything to do with your orientation? That a pre-Deadpool Wade Wilson decided he didn’t enjoy that act, withdrew consent and was respected? That it was clear the sexual acts they were doing were for her pleasure as much as his?
When do you see any of those things addressed in a mainstream movie? Deadpool has one of the few sex scenes you should want to discuss with your teenagers!
Deadpool 2 even has an IUD turned into a plot point, and it’s shown onscreen during an emotional moment. Having an IUD is treated as a completely normal thing, which it is for millions of women; when pop culture tends to think of birth control either as a joke when it comes to condoms or objects of horror when parental figures find out their daughters are “on the pill,” this is refreshing.
Deadpool spoiler but it's out of context: Really cool to see a blockbuster superhero movie normalize the use of IUD birth control.— Susana Polo (@NerdGerhl) May 11, 2018
Negasonic Teenage Warhead’s girlfriend? Not remarked upon, other than the fact Deadpool likes to wave at her and say hello in a high-pitched voice because he finds her cute and bubbly. Deadpool’s ongoing flirtation with certain parts of Collosus’ anatomy? It could just be a joke, or it could be a reference to the character’s pansexual nature. But it’s never treated as a moment of gay panic at any point in the movies.
Deadpool’s jokes about masturbation are jokes, sure, but it’s also established vocally and visually that he does it to relax and relieve some pressure ... which is a really healthy reason for masturbation!
(But seriously, don’t grab someone’s butt after they indicate they don’t want you to, even if they are giant metal superheroes.)
Aside from the respectful portrayals of various kinds of sex, the film is inclusive in other ways too. Deadpool puts together a team of diverse individuals and deals with a wider world of characters who aren’t all white dudes, and he never resorts to cheap jokes about gender, race or sexual orientation. People just are who they are in Deadpool’s world, and he’s equally exasperated with all of them.
It’s not all perfect
Deadpool as a series does fall into the trap of having no idea what to do with Vanessa, Deadpool’s love interest in both movies. She’s damsel’d in the first movie, only to be fridged in the first act of the second movie. Cable’s wife and daughter are also killed, meaning the film finds three women to murder in order to give the male leads some motivation.
Two of the male co-writers of the film, who worked on the script alongside Ryan Reynolds, seemed clueless when alerted to the cliché.
“I would say no, we didn’t even think about it,” Rhett Reese told Vulture when asked aboutthe decision to kill these characters. “And that was maybe our mistake, not to think about it. But it didn’t really even occur to us ... We didn’t know what fridging was.”
Paul Wernick, another one of the film’s writers, makes the case that since the writers didn’t sit down and explicitly say killing three female characters to motivate the male leads was a sexist choice, it wasn’t a sexist choice. Which is certainly ... an argument.
“I know it wasn’t consciously sexist,” Wernick said. “It may appear that way as the film progresses and Cable loses his family as well, but again, the desire was to give a motivation to both Cable and to Deadpool, and have it be a parallel motivation that they both lost their family, and they’re both trying to kind of find their way in the world without them.”
Vanessa remains present in the film, and is ultimately saved, but this aspect of the script is one of the few major instances of lazy writing.
But heck, even the film’s lacking treatment of women can be part of the conversation you have with the kids! Pointing out that men can be and often are motivated to do big things even without the death of the women in their lives is the first step toward helping your children write better screenplays.
The other R-rated stuff isn’t a big deal, anyway. The language is just comical vulgarity, and the violence is so ridiculous that it barely registers as anything but slapstick. Almost everything else in the Deadpool films can be good for teenagers to see normalized, save for all the guns and electrocutions.
Take your teenagers to see Deadpool 2. The movie itself states explicitly that it’s a family film, so enjoy it with your family! You’ll thank me later.