Morena Baccarin with Ryan Reynolds in Deadpool Image: Facebook
Deadpool 2 is path-breaking on many counts, but killing off its women to make the men more significant is not one of them.
The sequel may have mostly received positive reviews but the writers have been called out for how they have handled some of the female characters in the movie.
In the opening minutes of the film, Deadpool's fiancee Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) is killed off by a gangster. It is later revealed that the time-travelling supervillain Cable (Josh Brolin) was also grieving the killings of his wife and daughter.
Fuelling a superhero movie and the superhero, by killing off its women is the oldest cliche in comics and movies. It's been happening for so long that there is even a word for it. Yes, it's called fridging.
In 1999, writer Gail Simone was upset about a Green Lantern storyline, where the bad guy kills the superhero's girlfriend and stuffs her in the refrigerator. Simone observed how very often the women are killed off just to give the man a significant motivation, and to make him seem more human. She then coined the term fridging, which essentially means “women in refrigerators.”
Paul Wernicke and Rhett Reese, who co-wrote the Deadpool 2 script with lead actor Ryan Reynolds, said they thought killing off Vanessa would come across as a strong motivating factor for Deadpool. And they did not know what fridging was.
"We didn't know what fridging was. We didn't even think about it. And that was maybe our mistake, not to think about it," Reese told Vulture recently.
The duo also admitted that an early draft had Vanessa splitting with Deadpool rather than dying, but someone pointed out that killing her would drive the character to go full throttle when he has everything taken away from him.
"The thought was maybe we can really, really engender great suffering for him by having his line of work be the thing that costs Vanessa her life," Reese added.
"I would say, in our defence, the only thing that really is important, the only thing that Deadpool cares about, is Vanessa. So if you're doing a movie where you are trying to get Deadpool at his lowest, to take away everything from Deadpool at the very beginning, the only thing to really take away from him is Vanessa. Cable loses his family as well, but again, the desire was to give a motivation... and have it be a parallel motivation that they both lost their family, and they're both trying to kind of find their way in the world without them." Wernick added
He said the decision was not "consciously sexist" as it may appear when the film moves ahead.
Deadpool 2 has also been applauded for its use of female superheroes. Reese stated that they are proud of the diverse female characters of Domino and Negasonic Teenage Warhead. He said that they "definitely made a point of not having this just be a testosterone-fuelled thing".
(With inputs from PTI)