WADE: Rough childhood?
VANESSA: Rougher than yours. Daddy left before I was born.
WADE: Daddy left before I was conceived.
VANESSA: Ever had a cigarette put out on your skin?
WADE: Where else do you put one out?
VANESSA: I was molested.
WADE: Me too. Uncle.
VANESSA: Uncles. They took turns.
WADE: I watched my own birthday party through the keyhole of a locked closet, which also happens to be my—
VANESSA: Your bedroom. Lucky. I slept in a dishwasher box.
WADE: (Gasps) You had a dishwasher. I didn't even know sleep. It was pretty much 24/7 ball gags, brownie mix, and clown porn. Vanessa laughs.
VANESSA: Who would do such a thing?
WADE: Hopefully you, later tonight?
Wade and Vanessa have a, uh, unconventional way of flirting. As a mercenary and a prostitute, they've seen some stuff. They may be exaggerating and downright lying here, but they've both undoubtedly been through a lot, and it bonds them together, right off the bat.
DEADPOOL: Here's the thing: Life is an endless series of train-wrecks with only brief, commercial-like breaks of happiness. This had been the ultimate commercial break, which meant it was time to return to our regularly scheduled program.
Gee, could Deadpool be any more of a nihilist? He thinks life is a meaningless sludge through suffering. That allows him to take risks, ignore the established law and order, and make his own rules—all from behind the safety of his cynical, sarcastic mask.
WADE: Listen, we both know that cancer is a shit-show. Like, a Yakov-Smirnoff-opening-for-the-Spin-Doctors-at-the-Iowa-State-Fair shit-show. And under no circumstances will I take you to that show. I want you to remember me, not the Ghost of Christmas Me. V
ANESSA: Well, I wanna remember us.
WADE: I swear to God I will find you in the next life, and I'm gonna boom-box "Careless Whisper" outside your window. Wham!
VANESSA: No one is boom-boxing shit, okay? We can fight this. Besides, I just realized something. You win. Your life is officially way more fucked up than mine. Wade chuckles.
WADE: I love you.
There are a couple of things to unpack here. First, Wade's whole "I want you to peace out so you can remember me this way" thing isn't chivalrous; it's actually pretty selfish. Vanessa loves him and wants to be with him; Wade's worried about a loss of dignity. That's why she points out that she wants to remember "us;" Wade may have the cancer, but he's not the only person in their relationship.
The second half of this exchange is a callback to Wade and Vanessa's first conversation, when they tried to out-suffer each other with talk of AWOL dads and sleeping in dishwasher boxes. When Vanessa concedes that Wade has won, it's a reminder both to Wade and to the audience that he and Vanessa are in this together, if he'll let her in.
WADE: The worst part about cancer isn't what it does to you, but what it does to the people you love. Who knew if this guy could save my life, but I knew there was only one way that I could save hers. Isn't that what superheroes do?
Wade thinks returning to Vanessa will save her life. We have no doubt that he loves her, but that's pretty gutsy to think that her life is destroyed without him.
AJAX: Oh, joke away. One thing that never survives this place is a sense of humor.
WADE: We'll see about that.
AJAX: I suppose we will.
Oh, we know Wade's sense of humor is going to survive. That's one of his chief methods of dealing with suffering. Also, this quote's from a flashback, so…
AJAX: I've cured you, Wade. Now your mutated cells can heal anything. It's attacking your cancer as fast as it can form. Yeah, I've seen similar side effects before. I could cure them, but where's the fun in that? Now, I'm gonna shut you in again, Wade; not because I need to—because I want to.
See, Ajax is what we'd call a sadist. He enjoys watching Wade suffer. Maybe it's because he can't feel anything. Maybe it's because he's a terrible, awful mutant man.
WADE: No way. I'm not making her life as ugly as mine.
Throughout the movie it's unclear why Wade thinks his presence, post-mutation, in Vanessa's life would be disastrous for her. He seems to suggest that it's solely because he's not as easy on the eyes as he was before, which is a pretty insulting assumption if you're Vanessa.
WADE: Better find her fast before numb-nuts does.
WEASEL: How do you know she's in here?
WADE: Because I'm constantly stalking that fox.
This is what we're talking about when we say that at least some of Wade's suffering is self-inflicted. He's torturing himself by following Vanessa around and coming this close to her without ever talking to her.
DEADPOOL: You were right, beautiful. Red really is my color.
DEADPOOL: Don't worry, baby. I'mma get you out of that shit-box.
AJAX: What better way to crawl back inside that head of yours.
DEADPOOL: Oh, you never left.
VANESSA: But you did, asshole!
Turns out Deadpool isn't the only one's who's been suffering, and he seemingly never takes a minute to see things from her perspective. Vanessa's cancer-stricken fiancé walked out on her in the middle of the night and presumably died. Now he's back?? Girl's got a right to be seriously ticked off.
DEADPOOL: Love is a beautiful thing. When you find it, the whole world tastes like Daffodil Daydream. So you've gotta hold onto love tight— Deadpool grips Dopinder's finger. Dopinder winces.
DEADPOOL: And never let go. Don't make the same mistakes I did. Got it?
DEADPOOL: Or else the whole world tastes like Mama June after hot yoga.
We won't recap Deadpool's elaboration on what, exactly, that tastes like, but needless to say, it's bad. What's less clear is what Deadpool regrets here; what he thinks were mistakes. He's the one who walked out on Vanessa, remember?
DEADPOOL: You're probably thinking, "My boyfriend said this was a superhero movie, but that guy in the red suit just turned that other guy into a fucking kebab!" Well, I may be super, but I am no hero. And yeah, technically this is a murder, but some of the best love stories start with a murder. And that's exactly what this is: a love story.
See? We told you that Deadpool thinks this is a love story, and he's right. His love of Vanessa is his main motivation for finding Ajax: first so Ajax can fix Deadpool's face so Vanessa won't recoil in horror when she sees him sans mask; and second so Deadpool can murder him, too.
WADE: Listen, I've been thinking…
WADE: About why we're so good together.
VANESSA: Why's that?
WADE: Well, your crazy matches my crazy. Big time.
WADE: And, uh, we're like two jigsaw pieces; you know, the weird, curvy edges.
VANESSA: You put them together and you can see the picture on top.
Solid analogy, Wade. Well done.
WADE: What if I just held on and never let go?
VANESSA: Just ride a bitch's back like Yoda on Luke.
WADE: Oh, Star Wars jokes.
WADE: Jesus Christ. It's like I made you in a computer.
Being an origin story, Deadpool has to pack a lot of relationship development into a very short slice of narrative time. It does so through montage, but also through exchanges like this, and especially lines such as "It's like I made you in a computer" that clue us in to exactly what Wade values and loves about Vanessa.
WADE: Vanessa's already working on Plan A, B, all the way through Z. Me? I'm memorizing the details of her face, like it's the first time I'm seeing it. Or the last.
This is one of the first times we get the idea that Wade's going to leave Vanessa "for her own good" or to "spare her" from his cancer. We're slapping some heavy quotes around those ideas because, when it comes right down to it, Wade is saving Wade from pain just as much, if not more, as he is saving Vanessa.
VANESSA: …You're not going anywhere. Drink. Vanessa hands him a glass.
WADE: You're right. Cancer is only in my liver, lungs, prostate, and brain. All things I can live without. He drinks. It tastes terrible.
VANESSA: You belong here at home, surrounded by your Voltron and your Bernadette and your me.
Wade's glib attitude toward his diagnosis is frustrating to Vanessa. What she's saying here is that Wade belongs at home surrounded by the things he loves, and the woman who loves him right back.
DEADPOOL: I didn't just get the cure to el cáncer. I got the cure to el everything. But there was only one thing that really mattered.
Spoiler alert: It's Vanessa.
WADE: Every time I see her, it's like the first time—especially from this angle.
Just in case it wasn't clear, Wade loves Vanessa inside and out.
WADE: Come on, get it together. This isn't about me; this is about Vanessa.
Say what now? Wade tells himself this in the bathroom mirror at the strip club, right after he chickened out about finally talking to Vanessa and revealing that he's BEEN ALIVE THIS WHOLE TIME. So much of Wade's quest to get revenge on Ajax, get his face fixed, and return to Vanessa has been all about Wade; this grimy moment of self-awareness is refreshing. Of course, if Wade hadn't chickened out and ran into the bathroom to give himself a pep talk, Ajax never would've kidnapped Vanessa in the first place, but…
We'll take it.
DEADPOOL: See? You don't need to be a superhero to get the girl. The right girl will bring out the hero in you.
Aaand we're right back to everything being all about Deadpool. To be fair, the movie is called Deadpool, we guess, but…Vanessa serves as Deadpool's motivation to wipe out the bad guys, and she forgives him for walking out on her, hiding from her, and pretending to be dead super-quickly.
VANESSA: So, am I supposed to just smile and wave you out the door?
WADE: Think of it like spring cleaning, only if spring was death.
There's that sardonic tone we were just talking about. Vanessa is sad, afraid, and frustrated; Wade's deflecting from any real exchange of emotion by cracking jokes. He wants to appear detached and tough when inside he's gutted.
WADE: Hey, don't take any shit from him, Cunningham. How tough can he be with a name like Francis? CUNNINGHAM: Francis? Angel Dust looks at Ajax, like "Is this true?" WADE: That's his legal name. (chuckling) He got "Ajax" from the dish soap.
Wade hits a nerve here. Revealing Ajax's real name and that maybe Ajax isn't as powerful and confident as he wants to appear causes Ajax to ramp up the torture and spend the rest of the movie making like Destiny's Child circa 1999 and asking Wade to say his name.
WADE: Did I say this was a love story? No, it's a horror movie.
The appearance of the film itself can be deceiving. At times, Deadpool practically an offbeat rom-com. (Okay, so really offbeat.) At other times it's a revenge tale. Still other times, particularly when Wade is in Ajax's squalid workshop, it's horrific and downright unsettling.
AJAX: Quick question: What's my name? Wade doesn't reply.
AJAX: Didn't think so.
Ajax has worked hard (we presume) to reinvent himself as Ajax, so when Wade brings up Francis, it sticks in Ajax's sadistic craw and stays there for the duration. This is just the first of multiple instances when Ajax asks Wade to say his name. Ajax thinks it's a power move; too bad Wade never gives him the satisfaction.
AJAX: You don't want to kill me. I'm the only one who can fix your ugly mug.
Ajax knows how much his appearance matters to Wade, and he uses that fact to keep himself alive, all the while misleading Wade and letting Wade think that he can actually fix his face.
WADE: I'm a monster inside and out. I belong in a fucking circus.
WEASEL: Wade, Vanessa loves you. She doesn't care what you— Wade lowers his hoodie.
WEASEL: Oh! Oh.
WADE: Do you like what you see?
WEASEL: No. You look like an avocado had sex with an older, more disgusting avocado.
Weasel proves Wade's point here, but it seems like he's just doing it for comic effect. What do you think?
WEASEL: Yeah, well you gotta do something to remedy this because as of now, you only have one course of action.
WADE: Damn straight. Find Francis.
WEASEL: Star in horror films.
Weasel is such a helpful, practical friend.
WEASEL: …The douchebag does think you're dead, right?
WEASEL: That's good. You should keep it that way.
WADE: What, like wear a mask?
WEASEL: Yes. A very thick mask. All the time. I am sorry. You are…haunting. Your face is the stuff of nightmares.
WADE: Like a testicle with teeth.
WEASEL: You will die alone. I mean, if you could die. Ideally, for others' sake.
WADE: That'll do.
This exchange shows that Wade's in on the joke when it comes to his appearance. We mean, of course he is. We're willing to bet Wade's already come up with three-dozen insults about his gnarly new face before he sets foot in Sister Margaret's. Still, Weasel's reactions don't do much to encourage Wade to get over himself and go talk to Vanessa.
RECRUITER: Mr. Wilson?
RECRUITER: You're looking very alive.
DEADPOOL: Ha! Only on the outside.
Ironically, it's Deadpool's outside appearance (conveniently hidden from the recruiter by a costume) that makes him feel so dead inside.
DEADPOOL: I should've come and found you sooner. But, baby, the guy under this mask, he ain't the same one that you remember.
Except that, aside from his mottled skin and super powers, he pretty much is. Vanessa has every right to get as mad at Wade as she does once he's all, "Surprise! I'm alive! So sorry I forgot to mention that."
DEADPOOL: Are you sure?
VANESSA: I'm sure. She removes the mask.
VANESSA: Hey. After a brief adjustment period and a bunch of drinks, it's a face…I'd be happy to sit on.
Call back! In the end, Vanessa proves that her anger and hurt were justified, and that Wade was wrong to assume she was so shallow that she'd kick him to the curb just because he traded terminal cancer for a complexion that looks like raw meat.
DOPINDER: Uh, why the fancy red suit, Mr. Pool?
DEADPOOL: Oh, that's because it's Christmas Day, Dopinder, and I'm after someone on my naughty list. I've been waiting one year, three weeks, six days, and, oh, 14 minutes to make him fix what he did to me.
DOPINDER: And what did he do to you, Mr. Pool?
DEADPOOL: This shit. Deadpool pulls up his mask to reveal his face, which looks raw, like he's been burned.
Deadpool makes the stakes clear to Dopinder—and the audience—right from the get-go. He's a man on a mission, and that mission is to repair his deformed face. The fact that he knows how long he's been after Ajax right down to the minute illustrates just how dead-set on revenge Deadpool is.
DEADPOOL: A hush falls over the crowd as rookie sensation Wade W. Wilson out of Regina, Saskatchewan, lines up the shot. His form looks good. With a running start, Deadpool kicks Francis in the head.
DEADPOOL: Oh! And that's why Regina rhymes with fun. He disarms Francis and continues beating him.
DEADPOOL: Ladies and gentlemen, what you're witnessing is sweet, dick-kicking revenge.
It wouldn't be Deadpool, if he didn't inject a little levity into a merciless beat-down. He's waited for this moment for a long time; now he's basking in it.
DEADPOOL: Trust me, that wheezing bag of dick-tips has it coming. He's pure evil.
It's worth noting that Deadpool describes Ajax as evil. Deadpool may resist becoming an "official" hero by teaming up with the X-Men, but he still sees himself as good and Ajax as evil, which adds an extra layer of justification to his revenge plot, as in "He didn't just make me ugly; he's just pure evil, period."
BLIND AL: Why such a douche this morning?
DEADPOOL: Let's recap. The cock thistle that turned me into this freak slipped through my arms today. Deadpool pauses and looks at his missing hand.
DEADPOOL: Arm. Catching him was only chance to be hot again, get my super sexy ex back, and prevent this shit from happening to someone else.
Here, the motivational plot thickens. Now, Deadpool's revenge isn't just fueled by vanity and love, it's also inspired by a desire to protect future test subjects from Ajax and his twisted workshop, too.
DEADPOOL: Me and you are headed to fix this butterface.
AJAX: What? Ajax starts laughing.
AJAX: You stupid fucking idiot. Did you really think there was a cure…for that?
AJAX: You heard me.
DEADPOOL: No. No! So, you mean to say…after all this, you can't fix me?
AJAX: It sounds even stupider when you say it.
DEADPOOL: Like the kind of stupid who admits he can't do the one thing I'm keeping him alive for?
Even in revenge, Deadpool has to suffer. (BTW, suffering is a pretty big theme in this movie, too.) Once Deadpool finally has Ajax where he wants him, Ajax reveals that there's never been any cure for what he did to Deadpool's face, and Deadpool's revenge has been all for naught. Well, at least half for naught, Deadpool succeeds in killing Ajax moments after this exchange.
DEADPOOL: I belong to a group of guys who take a dime to beat a fella down.
Even before Deadpool became Deadpool he was willing to overlook right and wrong in order to suit his economic needs.
WADE: I give a guy a pavement facial, it's because he's earned it.
When Meghan's friend wants Wade to mess with her step-dad, this is why he declines. His tactics may be savage, but, to him, they're always well-deserved.
DEADPOOL: I'm just a bad guy who gets paid to fuck up worse guys.
Deadpool's catchphrase may be "Maximum effort!" but we wouldn't be surprised if this motto isn't embroidered on a pillow somewhere in his and Blind Al's shoddy apartment. It's a succinct summation of his sense of ethics.
WEASEL: You know, for a merc, you're pretty warm-blooded.
That's the thing about Wade, and even his Deadpool persona: underneath all the posturing, weapons, and dirty jokes, there's a decent heart. This movie is a love story, after all.
VANESSA: Say the magic words, Fat Gandalf.
BUCK: I'm sorry.
Vanessa has her own sense of ethics, too. She may be a prostitute, but that doesn't give guys like Buck the right to cop a cheap feel. Her response to his sleazy advance as Wade looks on also shows that Vanessa can stand up for herself, all by herself.
WADE: I just wanna get to know the real you, you know; not the short-shorted, two-dimensional sex object peddled by Hollywood.
First of all, whether it's intended or not, this statement is pretty ironic given that the character of Vanessa is a essentially a 2-D sex object—albeit one who can quote Star Wars movies, which in itself is kind of trope-y when it comes to the concept of the geeky dream girl.
Now that we've got that out of the way, this quote from Wade seems intended to show that, for all his questionable morals when it comes to superhero hot topics like violence and justice, Wade's a fairly self-aware, upstanding guy when it comes to dealing with the opposite sex.
Deadpool hits Francis so hard his motorcycle helmet flies off. DEADPOOL: This is taking unsportsmanlike conduct to a whole new level.
Deadpool revels in his questionable morals. Why slap some zip ties on Francis when he can punt his head like a football?
AJAX: I was a patient here once myself, you know. The treatment affects everyone differently. It made Angel inhumanly strong. In my case, it enhanced my reflexes; also scorched my nerve ends, so I no longer feel pain. And, in fact, I no longer feel anything.
Ajax also has zero moral code, but, unlike Deadpool, his lack of ethics is also made flesh in his inability to feel physical pain. That's right; he's a walking metaphor.
COLOSSUS: I've given Deadpool every chance to join us, but he'd rather act like a child. A heavily armed child. When will he grow up and see benefits of becoming X-Man?
NEGASONIC TEENAGE WARHEAD: Which benefits? The matching unitards? The house that blows up every few years?
COLOSSUS: Please. House blowing up every few years builds character.
Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead show that even superheroes have shades to their character, and their attitudes about heroism. He's disciplined and staid; she's sarcastic and jaded.
RECRUITER: The world needs extraordinary soldiers. We won't just make you better. We will make you better than better: A superhero.
WADE: Look, Agent Smith, I tried the hero business, and it left a mark, but if I ever hit "fuck it," I'll look you up.
Throughout the entire film, Wade's reluctant to join the X-Men and be a straight arrow superhero. This exchange is the closest we get to a reason why. He never goes into detail about what this metaphorical mark is, but it sounds like his military career left him with some emotional scars.
DEADPOOL: Let's pro-con this superhero thing. Pro: They pull down a gaggle of ass. Local dry-cleaning discounts. Lucrative film deals, both origin stories and larger ensemble team movies. Con: They're all lame-ass teacher's pets.
COLOSSUS: You know I can hear you.
DEADPOOL: I wasn't talking to you. I was talking to them.
Deadpool and Colossus are at opposite ends of the spectrum in their views about heroism and goodness. Colossus is by-the-books, and Deadpool knows it. That's why he enjoys teasing him so much. While Colossus is all-in re: superhero stuff, Deadpool remains detached; his pros are all practical and have nothing to do with how being and doing good affects one's character.
COLOSSUS: You've been warned before, Deadpool. This is a shameful and reckless use of your powers.
The way Colossus sees it, Deadpool—and anybody else, for that matter—has an obligation to use their powers for good.
AJAX: Ah, my welcome speech used to be full of euphemisms, like "This may hurt a little." "This may cause you some discomfort." But I've grown blunt. This workshop is not a government-led program. It's a private institution that turns reclamation projects like yourself into men of extraordinary abilities. But if you think super-human powers are acquired painlessly…Wrong.
When Ajax says that acquiring super-human powers is a painful process, he's talking about his lab's techniques. The thing is, he's living proof that they also take a mental and emotional toll. His inability to feel anything has turned him into an evil, sadistic, power-hungry creep. Similarly, Ajax's procedure messes with Wade's head something fierce—and we're not just talking about his disfigured face. It also causes him to lose Vanessa, albeit temporarily.
AJAX: You know the funniest part of this? You still think we're making you a superhero. You. A dishonorable discharge. Hip-deep in hookers. You're nothing. Little secret, Wade: This workshop doesn't make superheroes. We make super-slaves. We're gonna fit you with a control collar and auction you off to the highest bidder. Who knows what they'll have you doing? Terrorizing citizens, putting down freedom fighters. Maybe just mow the occasional lawn.
Ajax lies, he insults, he tortures, he mocks, and he plans to sell Wade as a terrorist-slave. Yup; we'd say he ticks all the boxes for evil.
COLOSSUS: Four or five moments. That's all it takes.
COLOSSUS: Be a hero. Everyone thinks it's a full-time job. Wake up a hero. Brush your teeth a hero. Go to work a hero. Not true. Over a lifetime, there are only four or five moments that really matter. Moments when you're offered a choice, to make a sacrifice, conquer a flaw, save a friend, spare an enemy. In these moments, everything else falls away. The way the world sees us, the way we— Deadpool shoots Ajax in the head. Colossus vomits.
DEADPOOL: You were droning on.
Here, Deadpool subverts the superhero movie trope of the grandiose, dewy-eyed speech about right and wrong. Colossus is trying to have a moment here, man, and Deadpool ruins it, either because he's bored by Colossus' treatise on true heroism, because he can't wait to conclude his revenge on Ajax, or a little bit of both. Either way, it seems that Deadpool hasn't been swayed completely to the good side by the events in the shipyard.
DEADPOOL: If wearing superhero tights means sparing psychopaths, then maybe I wasn't meant to wear them. Not everyone monitors a hall like you.
COLOSSUS: Just promise—
DEADPOOL: Yeah, yeah, I'll be on the lookout for the next four moments.
Well, then. When Deadpool frames what Colossus wanted him to do this way—i.e., spare the life of an evil psychopath—suddenly Deadpool's inner conflict over being heroically good or continuing to break bad every now and then seems just a wee bit more understandable.