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Wade Wilson, better known as Deadpool, is one of Marvel’s most popular characters, mainly because of his unorthodox nature and general strangeness. Still, despite being exceptionally brutal and violent, Deadpool has been acquiring more and more fans over the years and has become of Marvel’s most valuable assets. But this guy is generally weird and based on his endeavours, it wouldn’t come as a surprise if you asked yourselves – is this guy a hero or a villain? Or, perhaps, an anti-hero? If you want to know the answer, keep reading our article!
Despite starting off his career as a supervillain, Deadpool went through several changes that transformed him into a true hero-leaning anti-hero and one of the most famous anti-heroes in Marvel’s universe.
In today’s article, we are going to discuss three possibilities – Deadpool being a hero, Deadpool being a villain and Deadpool being an anti hero. We are going to elaborate on each of these possibilities and give a final answer to our question. Enjoy!
Is Deadpool a villain?
Deadpool had his debut in the comic book The New Mutants #98 (1991), where he appeared as a supervillain who was hired to attack Cable and the New Mutants. Deadpool’s creators, Fabian Nicieza and Rob Liefeld, did, indeed, imagine him as a recurring supervillain and that is how they initially portrayed their characters during the majority of his early appearances.
Deadpool was never your typical supervillain, mainly because he rarely had a plan or an idea about what he would to if he had power. He worked as a mercenary, but he wasn’t really a megalomaniac who wanted world domination or anything of the sort. He did kill the whole Marvel Universe in the famou Killology, but he wasn’t really your typical (serial) murderer; he killed for a reason – be it money or some twisted personal reason – but he was never a guy that would sacrifice everyone or everything just to obtain more power.
So yeah, Deadpool did start off as a supervillain, but he was – even then – so atypical that there was more than enough space for a proper character development, which eventually happened later on. He was not a supervillain you’d want to meet – he was creepy, merciless and completely nuts – but he also wasn’t a maniac such as Thanos or Gorr.
Is Deadpool a hero?
Now that we’ve established that Deadpool was an atypical supervillain, we have to determine whether he can be perceived as a hero or not. We know that Deadpool transitioned from being a supervillain to being… well… something. He stopped being an antagonist, that much is sure, but did he really transition to being a hero?
After his transition, Deadpool certainly did a fair share of things that could be considered heroic. He also worked or was part of several superheroic groups, such as the X-Force, Avengers (not the original group, but one of the many spin-offs), S.H.I.E.L.D., and the X-Men. He also famously stopped a young girl from committing suicide on the pages of Deadpool #20 (2015), albeit not without his signature dark humour.
Deadpool’s heroics are duly noted, but there are two facts we have to consider along with that. First of all, Deadpool is a very atypical hero, just as he was a very atypical villain. He does his heroics with unusual brutality and he doesn’t really embody the virtues a superhero should represent. He does things for a good cause, but that’s about it, really, He’ll save a kitten from a tree, but he’ll also chop up the tree so that it destroys nearby cars without giving it much thought.
Secondly, Deadpool never stopped being a mercenary for hire, so although he did heroic thing, he simultaneously killed people as a profession. Sure, these were mostly bad people – generally – but it still means that his heroic side has a very dark counterpart. In that aspect, we cannot state that Deadpool is a hero, either. So, what is he?
Is Deadpool an anti-hero?
Luckily for us, literary theory has given us the term “anti-hero”, which represents a fictional character that does heroic things, but in a very atypical way, usually by adhering to a strictly personalised moral code or being an outcast that does heroic things, but doesn’t represent heroic values. Could we have found a label for Deadpool?
We have, in the two preceding paragraphs, explained that Deadpool is not your typical villain (he was, but he is not anymore), nor your typical hero. He does heroic deeds, but he also does villainous things. He works with the X-Men and saves a girl from committing suicide, but he is also a mercenary for hire and kills people for a job. He is somewhere in the limbo between a hero and a villain, and most characters that inhabit that limbo are labelled as being anti-heroes.
And while there are more traditional comic book anti-heroes such as Magneto, Wolverine, V (from V for Vendetta), or John Constantine, Deadpool, while fitting the mould, is atypical even in that aspect, but that specific characterisation is completely consistent with his overall persona. Deadpool is best known for being strange, weird and completely unique. In that aspect, him being an atypical anti-hero should not come as a surprise.
The reason why he is so atypical is that generally speaking, he does not embody the dark temperament most of these characters have. They are very complex characters with stories that are represented in the manner of a Greek tragedy, adding to the weight all of the more traditional anti-heroes carry with themselves. Deadpool’s story does have that tragic element to it, but it is always presented in a very comical and lighthearted manner (which adds to the irony of the whole situation) and Deadpool is prone to talking about his misfortunes with a lot of dark humour. This is where Deadpool is specific and special – he doesn’t live off his tragedy, he twists it, turns it, laughs at it and continues on living like he wants to. His actions make him an antihero, but his backstory is certainly not a typical example of that.
And that’s it for today. We hope you had fun reading this and that we helped solve this dilemma for you. See you next time and don’t forget to follow us!