*********IN THIS POST I WILL BE TALKING ABOUT DEADPOOL IN THE SENSE OF THE FILM. THIS MEANS THAT THERE WILL BE MANY SPOILERS. THIS IS NOT A REVIEW; THIS IS HOW IT PERTAINS TO MY LIFE. THAT BEING SAID, DO NOT READ THIS IF YOU DO NOT WANT THE MOVIE TO BE SPOILED FOR YOU. IF YOU STILL DECIDE TO READ IT, YOU CANNOT BLAME ME FOR YOUR STUPID DECISION (BUT THANKS FOR READING MY POST I LOVE YOU PLEASE COME BACK OH GOD DON’T LEAVE ME ALL ALONE). *********
Hello darling readers and friends who for some reason like me despite my unfortunate personality,
I’m not exactly quiet about my affinity for art: so many different types of art have aided in the creation of myself, but I have always been especially affected by music and film. A few years ago, Hollywood decided that ALL the comic books should be turned into movies, and as I, as well as millions of others, flocked to theaters screaming, “shut up and take my money!” We were (mostly) delighted as heroes and heroines flew, drove, and spun above us in dramatic splendor.
I did not read comic books growing up. However, My siblings and I woke up every Saturday morning of the 1990’s to an eccentric redheaded woman in terribly current attire and an overly excited man donning the same look, and they introduced us to Ninja Turtles, Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, and X-Men. When I was little, I was especially obsessed with X-Men and Ninja Turtles, so much so that after Kindergarten I would come home, have lunch, and then be given four Chips Ahoy! cookies while my grandparents put on the live action, Jim Henson designed Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movies that my grandfather recorded on a VHS when it was shown on television, commercials and all. And each time the VHS hissed to a stop, I cried.
As I grew into a teenager and then into an adulty adult, I unintentionally collected friends that were absolutely obsessed with the worlds that DC and Marvel had created. These friendships only fueled my fire more, and I began to read a few more comic books, an ungodly amount of graphic novels (which I like better, for reasons not pertinent to this post) and conversed with friends who seemed as if they were true superhero experts. And so, my little nerd flower blossomed into a glorious nerd tree, each branch created by friends, movies, comics and graphic novels that all told the same story of extraordinary heroes living even more extraordinary lives.
A few months ago, Deadpool (it is italicized this time because that is the name of the film. Look at me English-ing so well!) came out. I knew a bit about the character, mostly from my X-Men knowledge, but my education on him was certainly lacking. Upon viewing the first trailer, however, I was instantly infatuated. “He talks just like me, laced with ridiculous puns, offhand references, and drenched in profanity,” I beamed. I absolutely had to see this movie.
The majority of comic book fans seemed to adore the movie, as did my boyfriend and I. However, there was something else about Deadpool’s story that resonated with me, which was odd, considering I am not a mutant superhero. At first, I couldn’t comprehend why the movie was not just entertaining to me, but despite being a comedy/action film, somehow managed to speak to me on some other, deeper level. A few days after, I came to my realization. Deadpool hit me because I felt like he stood for people who were like me. People who weren’t just imperfect or the “underdog,” as most heroes start out to be. Deadpool was a sick person, just like me.
Thankfully I do not have cancer, and hope with all my heart that that is one diagnosis I will never have to face. However, I do have a slew of other illnesses and diseases that have made my life, at times, a true nightmare. I couldn’t begin to count how many times I’ve wondered, “is this really my life, or is this some sort of Truman Show-esque deal that I just don’t know about?”
At one point of the film, Wade Wilson (a.k.a pre-Deadpool) proposes to his incredibly beautiful, sexy girlfriend with a ring pop. Vanessa happily accepts, and after a sweet moment, Wade gets up to use the restroom. He looks back at Vanessa, and says through his narration:
“Life is an endless series of train-wrecks with only brief, commercial-like breaks of happiness.”
Wade then collapses on their apartment floor. The next thing you know, he and Vanessa are sitting in a doctor’s office, being told that Wade has cancer that has spread throughout his entire body.
This is just one of the many parts of the movie that felt astonishingly realistic. This is the same cycle my life has played out dozens of times. I have had countless days that started out better than most and allowed me to feel optimistic, only to find myself tied up in tubes in a hospital bed later that very same day. My life constantly seems to be spinning around me, dragging me along with it, rather than allowing me to control it, because many of the things wrong in my life, especially my illnesses, are mostly out of my hands.
After Wade gets his seemingly hopeless diagnosis, he decides to leave Vanessa and suffer through his illness alone. Vanessa, not being an asshole, begs him to stay, and tells him she’ll fight with him, to which he replies that he refuses to take her to what would be compared to the worst concert in the history of the universe. A total, literal shit show, if you will. Later on, at his friend’s misfit ridden bar, Wade is approached by a creepy, smug looking man who tells him he can be not only healed, but greatly improved. At first Wade thinks little of him, but within hours decides to try rather than to be left to fight his cancer alone.
Much to his surprise, rather than finding himself in a hospital, Wade finds himself in a twisted mutant factory run by the nefarious Ajax. Ajax and his workers torture people until their mutations are activated; then sell the mutants into slavery to villainous people to do their evil acts of, well, evil. Ajax has a particular disdain for Wade, who, despite being put through unimaginable suffering still retains his spirit and sense of humor. Wade has a mutual hatred for Ajax, who he prefers to call by his birth name, Francis.
Wade eventually escapes the horrifying hospital, but he is no longer himself. Not only has his skin become deformed, but his mutant gene was activated; and made him completely immortal. His body is now deformed, yet has the ability to heal from anything at remarkable speed. Whether from fire or being chopped into bits, Wade Wilson is now immortal. Filled with rage by what Ajax did to him, later fueled even more so by Ajax kidnapping Vanessa, Wade Wilson turns into Deadpool to hunt down Ajax, get revenge, and save Vanessa.
The character Ajax, while not responsible for Deadpool’s cancer, is responsible for his mutation and the dreadful torture Deadpool suffered through for nearly two years. Ajax is the embodiment of everything wrong with Deadpool’s life. In a way, Ajax, at least to me, is what I’ve always wanted. While it might seem odd, I often say to either myself or others, “If my sickness was a person I’d fucking kick him in the face.” While I am fighting, the villains are inside of my body, and as much as I often wish I could, I can’t effectively “kick their ass” in the superhero (or in this case, anti-hero) way. I am fighting an invisible yet vicious battle every moment of my life. It is extremely satisfying to watch Deadpool get revenge on that which ruined his life, because his enemy is tangible. My enemy’s name is not my body, but the many disorders and diseases I have been diagnosed with. Deadpool’s enemy’s name…is Francis.
Aside from all this, the most obvious reason that this movie hit me right in the feels has also not escaped me; in the middle of the movie it seems Wade’s life is completely torn apart. As his best friend says, “you look like an avocado had sex with an older avocado.” He lost the love of his life, he has nowhere to live, and he is filled with more anger than most people could know in a lifetime. Despite now being able to to rapidly heal from anything and being immortal, Deadpool actually still has cancer. He was never cured of it; he simply can heal from it as quickly as it develops. He’s still someone who has a disease. And yet, he does incredible things, goes on an enthralling adventure to get his revenge, and most importantly, despite now looking nothing like the gorgeous Ryan Reynolds, he still wins Vanessa back and they resume their relationship. Yes, the guy who is not physically perfect (or mentally either, in Wade’s case) still gets the super hot girl and a happy ending.
As a seemingly perpetually sick person, I have had to face the fact that I will never be what most consider to be normal or average. Deadpool’s story encompasses an idea introduced to me by my counselor and dear friend; the idea of a “new normal.”
The idea of the “new normal” is the idea that if a person is like me, no matter how hard they may try, they may never have an average life, or in my case, a completely healthy body. They are then faced with two options. They can either wallow in self pity and long for something that will most likely never happen, or, they can work to create a “new normal,” that despite not being like the average life, can still be a wonderful, beautiful, happy life. Those of us who are chronically ill are not like most others, but that does not by any means assume that we can’t have fantastic lives. We can still be amazing. We can still thrive and find our happiness; we just have to do it a little differently, and may even fight for it harder. But having a wonderful life is by no means impossible for a person who is different. I am well aware that Deadpool is not real, but again, so much of this imaginary story is actually more realistic than many may think, at least to my eyes. Maybe not the immortality or the science defying action, but the parts that despite not making quite such a large explosion, make an equally large impact on those who can relate.
Last November, I had a horrible scare. After I took a shower at around 7p.m, I began to feel an unusual pain in my neck and collapsed. My boyfriend caught me, tried to get me up and walk me to bed, and I collapsed again. Within ten minutes I lost consciousness twice, so my boyfriend called an ambulance. The first few hours in the ER my pain slowly began to spread from my neck, up into my jaw, down into my spine, shoulders, arms and abdomen. The entire upper half of my body was in excruciating pain. My nerves were on fire, my skin felt battered. My boyfriend would barely touch his thumb to me and I would scream out in pain, because even the lightest touch felt like a brutal beating.
Due to the fact that I feel pain every second without much relief, while the pain doesn’t become ignorable, it does become a part of life. It is a part of myself, albeit an awful part. When a new pain comes along that I have never had before, it fills me with terror. I spent 19 hours in the Emergency Room, and was visited by Neurosurgeons and Neurologists who couldn’t understand what was wrong with me or why no one could even touch me without having me scream (and when I say scream, I truly mean a scream, not a yelp). After many hopeless hours, the doctors decided to give me a brain MRI and told me that despite it being a low chance, there could be something seriously wrong with me.
I was carted into the radiology department, sleep deprived, uncertain of my future, and suffering. I was placed on the table, and the sweet technician I had with a grey handlebar mustache began to talk with me. He was kind and cheerful, which was especially impressive at 3a.m in a hospital. As we spoke, I told him I wished more than anything that I could be a superhero in that moment. I thought to myself, Deadpool could handle this. Wolverine could handle this. I was just me; a depressed, chronically ill, weak little human.
Tears melted down my face as the technician looked down at me. “You’re better than a superhero,” he said with a smile, “because you’re real. They’re not.”
Those are some of the most kind and inspiring words I had ever been told, and in that moment, this stranger who I had never met before this awful night made me feel like maybe, just maybe, I could deal with my life. Even the parts that seemed so nightmarish they couldn’t possibly be real, yet somehow still were. This wonderful mustached stranger made me feel brave enough. The machine slowly moved me into position, and for an hour, as I cried though the pain worsened by the need to stay still for the MRI, I chanted to myself in my head that I was indeed strong enough to live this life.
Thankfully I was not diagnosed with any of the horrifying diseases the Neurosurgeons suggested. Not so thankfully, I was diagnosed with a syrinx. A syrinx is a tear in the spinal cord that, once filled with spinal fluid, becomes a cyst. When that cyst is aggravated or inflamed, it can press down onto your spinal cord and nerves, causing the dreadful pain I was in. The pain lasted for four days before it began to subside, and there’s not much to be done about it right now besides to take pain medication and watch for episodes to hopefully avoid collapsing from the pain again. If this was my only medical issue, it would still be heartbreaking, but a little easier to handle. But a syrinx put on top of my already mountainous pile of disorders, illnesses and diseases broke me completely, and I sat in the bed tired beyond belief, holding this new information, crying uncontrollably while my boyfriend’s grandparents hugged me as gently as they could to not worsen the physical pain. Though at that point, the emotional pain hurt far worse.
I may not be immortal. I am definitely not Ryan Reynolds in real life. But I am a real woman fighting this very real battle; myself versus my illnesses, my hidden villains that live under my skin. While most days even the simplest tasks seem to require my maximum effort, I’m still doing my best to fight. I’m not a superhero or an antihero, but I am definitely a warrior. Of course, it would certainly help to have a badass super suit. But we can’t have everything, I suppose.