Study Guide

Deadpool Themes

  • Suffering

    Love hurts. Love scars. Love wounds and marks. If you recognize these as the lyrics to the classic rock jam "Love Hurts," go on and pat yourself on the back. (Grandma Shmoop, is that you?)

    Deadpool proves that Nazareth and all the rest of the long-haired rock gods of yesteryear may've been on to something. Suffering is central to Deadpool. From cancer to corporate torture to being too afraid to talk to Vanessa, Wade's in a lot of pain. Sure, some of it's self-inflicted—seriously, man; just go talk to her—but that doesn't mean that it hurts any less.

    Questions About Suffering

    1. Deadpool says that when life turns into a massive mess, "you can generally trace it back to one big, bad decision," and that his decision was submitting to Ajax's mutation program. Do you agree? Was that a terrible decision? Weigh those pros and cons.

    2. Why does Ajax like to see people suffer?

    3. How does Deadpool use humor to deflect or avoid real pain? Can you give an example?

    4. Wade and Vanessa initially bond through their similar histories of suffering. What is it about trauma that brings people together?

    Chew on This

    Across the board, Deadpool's suffering is entirely avoidable; he just needs to make better decisions.

    After being tortured by Ajax, Deadpool's outside matches his inside.

  • Love

    How do we know that Deadpool is a love story? Because the "Merc with a Mouth" tells us so himself. Sure, he's in the middle of committing murder at the time, but let's not get too bogged down by details, shall we?

    When it comes right down to it, most of Deadpool's actions throughout the film—good, bad, or otherwise—are motivated by his love for Vanessa. It's why he leaves. It's why he agrees to undergo Ajax's shady mutation procedure, and it's why he's fixated on killing Ajax, too. It's why he spends most of the film stalking Vanessa instead of talking to her, and it's why, ultimately, he takes off his mask and shows her that, underneath all those scars, he's still the same wisecracking Wham! fanatic.

    Questions About Love

    1. Do you think Vanessa would've stayed with Wade if given the chance?

    2. Were you surprised to learn that Dopinder took Deadpool's relationship advice, and that he had his cousin in the trunk of his cab? Why or why not?

    3. At the end of the film, Deadpool says, "You don't need to be a superhero to get the girl. The right girl will bring out the hero in you." What's "the hero" that Vanessa brings out in Deadpool? 

    4. What do you think would happen if Vanessa asked Deadpool to join the X-Men?

    Chew on This

    Vanessa's great and all, but Wade's first love is himself.

    The bond between Wade and Vanessa is sealed not through their shared "craziness" but because they've both survived so long in the absence of love.

  • Appearances

    Things aren't always what they seem in Deadpool…except for when they totally are. Hear us out on this one. First, both Deadpool and Ajax pretend to be someone they're not. For Deadpool, that means tossing off dirty jokes and '90s pop culture references left and right to distract from the heartbroken, mutilated nutcase named Wade underneath the mask. For Ajax, that means rebranding himself as a powerful, fiendish mastermind, and not some dork named Francis.

    Appearance are also exactly what they seem when it comes to Wade's face. He's been disfigured, and he can't deal with it. He's so caught up in his own looks that he leaves Vanessa, lets her think that he's six feet under, seeks out a blind roommate, and devotes his life to finding Ajax so he can get his handsome mug restored. Uh, superficial much?

    Questions About Appearances

    1. Do you think Vanessa would've dumped Wade after Ajax disfigured him just because he looked strange?

    2. We don't get a lot of Ajax's backstory, but why do you think being called Francis makes him so mad? 

    3. If Ajax told Wade up front that he could cure his cancer and give him superhuman abilities, but he'd be permanently scarred, do you think Wade would've backed out of treatment?

    4. Weasel delights in coming up with clever (and generally filthy) descriptions of Wade's post-mutation mug. How would you describe it?

    Chew on This

    Wade leaves to protect himself from the pain of Vanessa's potential judgment and rejection, not to protect Vanessa.

    Deadpool's revenge is fueled by vanity and self-preservation, not love.

  • Revenge

    If somebody flipped the switch on your mutant genes and turned your face into a marbled slab of chuck roast, how would you react? You'd plan your revenge, that's how. Deadpool's plot is propelled forward by the titular character's quest to find Ajax, make Ajax fix his disfigured face (and, presumably, the rest of him), and then murder Ajax in retribution for all the pain and suffering The Sadist Formerly Known as Francis put him through. Exacting his revenge on Ajax will free Deadpool—or at least that what Deadpool thinks. He thinks that once he forces Ajax to mend his mangled mug, he can finally reunite with Vanessa and reenter society without a fancy red mask.

    Questions About Revenge

    1. Why does Deadpool think that Ajax can cure him in the first place?  

    2. How would you describe Weasel's role in Wade's quest for revenge? Is he a good ally? 

    3. Was it a mistake for Deadpool to kill Ajax? Isn't Ajax his closest link to a potential cure?

    Chew on This

    Saving Vanessa from Ajax cures what really ails Deadpool; his disfigured face doesn't matter.

    Deadpool's revenge plot is motivated by equal parts love and ego.

  • Morality and Ethics

    Deadpool isn't a man without morals; he's just a man with his own personal code of ethics, a set of principles that most of society would agree are pretty depraved. The thing is, Deadpool may be a bad guy, he may talk dirty and fight even dirtier, but he uses his sick and twisted superhuman skills to take down even worse guys. In this respect, Deadpool is an antihero; his sense of right and wrong is nontraditional and tailored to suit his own wants and needs. He doesn't think of himself as heroic, but he uses his unofficial motto of "I'm bad, but they're worse" to justify his brutal methods. When it comes to Ajax and his goons, Deadpool shows a complete lack of remorse and emerges from the film with a sparkling-clean conscience because of his skewed moral code.

    Questions About Morality and Ethics

    1. How would you describe Deadpool's code of ethics? List five guiding principles, or "rules," for being Deadpool. 

    2. How would you describe your own moral code? List five rules for being you—ethically speaking, that is. For example, one of Shmoop's guiding principles is to never, ever let that last slice of pizza go to waste. 

    3. When it comes to morality and ethics, how are Deadpool and Ajax similar? How are they different? 

    4. Do you think Wade's morals change over the course of the narrative? Why or why not?

    Chew on This

    Deadpool is a study in moral relativism.

    Saying Deadpool has his own moral code is just a nice way of saying Deadpool doesn't have any morals, period.

  • Good vs. Evil

    Deadpool vs. Ajax isn't the only battle between good and evil in Deadpool. It's not even the primary battle. Good is also pitted against evil within Deadpool himself. He's not ethically bankrupt, but he doesn't have a very, uh, conventional moral code, either. He insists he's not a hero—no way, no how—and he'd rather join a slug-watching club than join Colossus, Negasonic Teenage Warhead, and the rest of the X-Men. Still, the fact remains that Deadpool fights for the little guy, for what he thinks is right, and for society's rejects, including himself. He just wants to fight on his own warped terms.

    Questions About Good vs. Evil

    1. Let's cut to the chase: Is Deadpool a hero? 

    2. Why do the X-Men want Deadpool to join them so badly? Seems like an awful lot of work to recruit just one guy. 

    3. Is Francis—er, we mean Ajax—evil? Why or why not?

    Chew on This

    Deep down, Deadpool relishes his evil side; if he joined the X-Men, he'd have to stop turning people into kebabs.

    His relationship with Vanessa is the only thing that keeps Deadpool from going completely to the Dark Side.