"I'm not sure there is a concept to grasp."
Since the new Deadpool trailer has been officially released, it's time to start embracing our inner Deadpool. For some of us, that means painting our faces and joining the criminal underworld (or is it stopping criminals? I can't remember). For the rest of us, it means brushing up on our comic book trivia. Just in case someone quizzes us on our Deadpool knowledge when we arrive at the theater.
Part 1 is here. I talked a little bit about the history of the character, who wrote him, and why he keeps talking to the reader like he knows he's in a comic book. If you don't know anything about the character, start there first, then come back here!
This card is going to be all about the fans' relationship with the character.
Real fast, do you know the difference between fanon and canon?
Here's a little backstory on what a headcanon is if you're feeling confused.
If you just need a review: Canon is the literal text of a piece of media. Fanon is an interpretation of the media. It can be based on subtext or it can be a complete fabrication. This is going to be important later.
And by later I mean right the heck now!
And in that moment, we were all Kate Bishop.
There are two major interpretations of the Deadpool character. Both are valid, based on the text that we've been given. Both are wildly contradictory, and seem like they would be mutually exclusive. And they are both extremely important because sometimes fanon influences canon just as much as the fans are inspired by the original media. While there are plenty of different interpretations of the character, for the sake of simplicity I'm going to generalize them into two categories:
One group conceptualizes Deadpool as a bro. He likes explosions, he likes to womanize, and definitely likes to murder.
Sure. Seems valid.
The other group thinks of Deadpool as an omnisexual disabled rape survivor.
And they're both correct.
How on earth can these two characterizations coexist?
Cosplay is the convergence of these different viewpoints.
Because cosplayers are probably the most conspicuous fans on any given day, often they end up being unofficial representatives of different aspects of fandom. Most Deadpool cosplayers are like the ones in the pictures above: outrageously funny and awesome to be around. However, there's a small but pernicious group that has used the costume as a license to photobomb strangers, touch and harass other cosplayers in appropriately, and just generally make nuisances of themselves.
Part of this is coming from those different interpretations of the character. Some fans think this kind of behavior is "expected" because they're being in character- their version of the character. Other fans disagree, they think they're doing the character and the fandom in general a disservice. They're usually also in the group of fans that just want to be able to go to a con and have fun without being harassed or groped.
How did we as fans form such different opinions in the first place?
There's not really a simple answer.
Fans aren't a homogeneous group of people. Maddy Meyers at The Mary Sue wrote a really good breakdown of the differences between Deadpool fans, but truth be told they generally act like all fans. There are the collectors. The cosplayers. The fanfiction writers and fanartists. The people that know every single piece of trivia off the top of their heads. And all of us look for different things when we interact with a piece of media. What's amazing with Deadpool is that there's such a prominent lack of consensus regarding what we're reading.
You have writer Gerry Dugan confirming that the character is omnisexual in one tweet, and you have the Deadpool video game full of toilet humor and exploitative sexualization of women. That's one of the risks of satire: If it's too subtle, people might take it seriously. With comics, that means future permutations of the character might end up becoming the thing they once parodied.
Now that you know a little more, who is "your" Deadpool?
This card talked a little more about fandom, if anyone's interested in a Part 3 I can go into more detail on the subject?