Deadpool and the Hero’s Journey
How it works
If the events of the movie or comic book involving Deadpool are taken for surface value, one may think that Deadpool is a villain, or at most, an anti-hero. If you analyze his origin story, one may very quickly realize that every single event that occurs in his origin story is a step in the hero’s journey. Technically speaking, according to online sources, Deadpool is officially considered an anti-hero. An anti -hero is someone who’s shows the attributes of a hero, does good things to benefit others, and all the other things a standard run of the mill hero would do. The key difference here though is that an anti-hero, while doing things that a hero would do, winds up harming people in the process of helping people. An example of something like this would be, for example, a car chase. Say the good guy in this case is chasing after the bad guy in a car. While the good guy is trying to stop the bad guy, he also manages to cause several car accidents that injure innocent people. Despite him being an anti-hero, his story contains all the steps to the hero’s journey.
The first step in the Hero’s Journey, the Ordinary World, is probably one of the driest portions of the journey (and especially Deadpool’s backstory). His backstory fits the first step because it is very clearly outlined in the beginning of the movie. It is described as follows; Deadpool, or Wade Wilson, lives in New York City and works as a sort of not so permanent hitman, that scares people that do something wrong, and gets paid for it. His normal cycle is to his job, go to the bar and drink, and pick up women and or prostitutes. Within the ordinary world, he meets a prostitute named Vanessa, and they wind up falling in love with each other. Towards the end of this phase, Wade asks Vanessa to marry him and she says yes (Deadpool, 2016).
How it works
The next phase of the Hero’s Journey, the Call to Adventure, occurs when Wade gets a diagnosis that changes his life. Going by the movie timeline, very shortly after the two get engaged, Wade is diagnosed with a type of cancer that is very far through its progression, and the odds of it being cured are very slim. It sends him into a complete downward spiral, in which he is having a hard time coming out of. It stops him from doing his normal hitman-ish activities, and he is no longer his joking self. While this may not seem like a huge “adventure” per say, it is enough to disrupt his ordinary world, so it counts as his call to adventure (Deadpool, 2016).
A very important part of the Hero’s Journey is the Refusal of the Call. This is the portion of the journey in which the hero denies his call and tries to remain in his/her little world. In Wade Wilson’s case, his refusal of the call comes in a couple different forms. The first form of his refusal is when he denies the use of any modern medicine or any method to slow down the progression of his cancer, and just live with the fact he will die. The second refusal is when he is initially approached by a man that offers him a cure, along with super powers. At first, Wade laughs at the man and to keep things relatively clean, tells the man to get out of his face. All this denial is since Wade is extremely frightened by the diagnosis of cancer (Deadpool, 2016).
The next step to the journey, is Meeting the Mentor. In Wade Wilson’s case, his mentor winds up being the villain that Deadpool will later have to face in the final steps of the Hero’s Journey. At this point in the story, however, a man named Ajax (the guy who tried convincing Wade to take an experimental treatment that would also give him super powers) finally gets into Wade’s head. In the cover of darkness, he packs a bag, and sneaks out of his apartment, leaving Vanessa behind. He shows up to a building that initially does not look like anything official. This is the first thing that made him wary about what he was getting himself into (Deadpool, 2016).
The phase of Crossing the Threshold happens very shortly after Wade’s arrival to the building where Ajax is. They put him through all these tests, and experiments to activate his “mutant gene”. None of these experiments initially work, and it begins to frustrate his “mentor”. The subject Wade to a gross amount of torture and tests that a standard human being would not be able to handle. All of this was to activate the gene that would essentially “cure” his cancer, along with give him super powers. Wade finally crosses the threshold when they lock him into a tank that deprives him of oxygen then restores it when he is about to pass out. During this test, Wade’s mutant gene is finally activated, and receives a super human healing factor, along with a slew of other powers, with the only downside being is that it turned his skin into a disgusting mess of wrinkles and redness. So, to summarize this entire ordeal, the moment that Wade crosses the threshold is when his mutant gene activates and gives him his powers and makes him look gross (Deadpool, 2016).
To combine several of the next steps, because they are relatively small, Wade Wilson, now known as Deadpool, must go through several tests along the way, along with meeting allies, preparing for his final fight, having his final fight, and returning with the elixir. To begin with, the tests he goes through, only pertains to the people he fights leading up to his final fight with Ajax. He was mentally tested in the scene in which he initially finds Vanessa in the strip club but could not talk to her. His main allies are Al, Weasel, and the two X-Men. They teach him useful knowledge and provide him with physical and mental support when needed. His preparation for his final fight, is extremely quick, only consisting of one scene. In this scene all he does is grab a duffel bag, and stock it with every single gun he has in his possession. His final fight, while strung out significantly in the movie, is exactly what one would expect. The hero fights his story long enemy, and defeats him, and gets rewarded. The phase of returning with the elixir, is when the hero returns to the ordinary world after going through his journey. In this case, Deadpool returns with elixir when Vanessa forgives him, and they go back to being happy and living with each other (Deadpool, 2016).
In conclusion, one can very clearly see that Deadpool fits the frame of the hero’s journey, despite being classified as an anti-hero. Each phase is detailed throughout the movie, even though it may not be entirely orthodox. Every movie about a lone character and his journey, normally wind up showing the hero’s journey in some way. In this movie, Deadpool shows every step, start to finish.