he fear of death serves as an agent for many stories, especially within the Marvel universe. From the death of Uncle Ben to Bruce Banner’s constant state of panic about the monster lying in wait ready to reap death and destruction on the world, death is something to be feared. Most characters do whatever it takes to not die. But not Deadpool. Deadpool does not run from death; in fact, he’s fallen in love.
Born as Wade Wilson, he made his living as an assassin. His motivations were unclear, but we know he was very good at what he did, and what he did wasn’t very nice.
While at the top of his game, Wilson developed an aggressive form of cancer. He voluntarily entered the Weapon X program (which, you may remember, is how Wolverine got those fancy metal upgrades to his bone claws) in the hopes of preserving his life. Weapon X infused Wolverine’s healing ability with Wilson’s DNA, but at a supercharged rate.
Wilson flirted with death while he was being experimented on. Literally. He was so close to dying most of the time that he would often see Death (in the form of a woman) looming over him. He eventually fell in love with her, and she found herself irresistibly attracted to him. It was his time with Death that made those torturous days of experimentation bearable for him.
Wilson’s cancer interacted with the increased healing factor and made it even more powerful (according to comic book science). Thus, Wade Wilson was reborn as Deadpool, and as much as he wanted to die to spend eternity with Death, he became virtually unkillable.
During his adventures, Deadpool has his head cut off, half of his body liquefied, and many of his limbs removed and still he is able to regenerate without sustaining any lasting harm. There seems to be no limit to the damage Deadpool can withstand and survive, making him the most valuable assassin in the universe.
Unfortunately, the whole invincible thing is a bit of a problem when Death is the love of your life. After his transformation and healing, Deadpool can’t see Death any more. And as if that isn’t heartbreaking enough, Death already has a suitor in the form of the mad titan himself, Thanos. You may remember Thanos as the so-called “god of destruction” and the big bad in The Avengers ending credits scene.
Thanos, jealous of Death’s affections toward Deadpool, makes sure the two can’t be together via a cosmic artifact that curses Deadpool with eternal life. Overkill, you think? (pun intended.)
As a character who wants to die, Deadpool turns story expectations upside-down. Most of us are familiar with being on the edge of our seats, watching characters only figuratively flirt with death in the hopes that they survive. Deadpool’s close relationship with death makes him quite different.
What if we were to love death? What would that look like? How would that change our story?
I can’t say I would ever be so bold as to love death, but perhaps all of us could benefit from fearing it a little less. Maybe then our lives will be a little more exciting. Maybe then we could break the fourth wall of our reality and see things a little different.
We should be so lucky. ♦