In the months leading up to Deadpool's premiere, both director Tim Miller and star-cum-executive producer Ryan Reynolds insisted that unlike his first appearance on the big screen, this incarnation of the merc with a mouth would be decidedly "pansexual."
But what does that mean exactly? In the comic books, Deadpool's sexuality, like his perception of reality, is fluid and often played up to comedic effect. It's not so much that the character has an affinity for men, women, or people in between, it's just that his sexuality is ill-defined and typically only articulated explicitly when a situation calls for it.
For a movie that was stuck in development hell for years and faced serious last-minute budget cuts, depicting a character with a nuanced sexuality that bucked heteronormative conventions would be an amazing achievement. Deadpool kinda, sorta gets there using a series of moments meant to establish the idea that Wade Wilson, who could easily be read as 100% straight, doesn't mind coloring outside of the lines…sometimes.
Deapool's biggest giveaway that it wants you to take its insistence that Deadpool isn't your typical shoot em up kind of hero actually starts with its advertising. A number of the movie's posters and trailers openly invite you to objectify his body the way that most mainstream superhero films do to women.
"Surprise, this is a different kind of superhero movie," Deadpool explains in an early scene. "To tell it right, we gotta take you back before I squeezed this ass into spandex."
As Deadpool unfolds, we're treated to a number of shots of Ryan Reynolds's body in various states of undress (including a gratuitous crotch shot) as well as an introduction to Deadpool's central romantic relationship with Vanessa Carlysle, a woman.
Deadpool more than earns its R-rating by being as drenched in sex as it is in blood and all of its sex scenes are between Deadpool and Vanessa. In a montage explaining just how right the two are for each other, the couple get it in in a number holiday-themed settings letting you know that they've celebrated Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas together.
In each scene, it's understood that Deadpool and Vanessa are having fairly vanilla, "regular" sex until we get to International Women's Day where the tables have turned and Vanessa is presumed to be wearing a strap-on getting ready to peg her man. While there's nothing wrong with straight men being on the receiving end of anal sex, Deadpool actually stumbles here and makes it clear that while Deadpool may be down enough to say "yes" to anal sex, that doesn't mean that he's actually all that into it.
Writing for Towleroad, Nathaniel Rogers accurately describes Deadpool as being deeply run-of-the-mill in terms of its ideas about queer male sexuality while also managing not to be all that homophobic.
"Despite the media angle of an ‘omni’ or ‘pansexual’ character, something that would indeed be very provocative in a superhero movie (hell, any mainstream movie) is if in the end, Deadpool’s sexuality isn’t any different than a popular jock pretending to be gay to crack up his friends," says Rogers. "The only difference is that he’s not doing it with a lisp or with cruel intent."
Ultimately, that's the line that Deadpool lets its titular character toe very strongly but never actually cross in a way that amounts to being more than tongue in cheek. Deadpool doesn't mind getting blowjobs (a mixed drink topped with whipped cream) from men, but he never actually seems particularly interested in men sexually.
In Deadpool's defense, he is in a committed relationship through the bulk of the movie and most of the film is actually about how he's trying to reconcile his new life (and face) as a super anti-hero with her expectations of him. Not to mention that Deadpool is the first superhero movie to openly acknowledge its leading character's sexual life in a way that treats sex as a normal thing that people do for fun.
From a pessimist's perspective, though, Deadpool's promise of a different, sexually open leading hero falls a little flat.
Even before it raked in $300 million dollars (globally) over the weekend, Fox announced that a Deadpool sequel was already in the works and Ryan Reynolds has expressed his interest in seeing Deadpool with a boyfriend in later movies. In a perfect world, we might just see Deadpool lusting after the beefy, male character (who will not be named here) teased in the after-credit-scene.
But in this world, we're probably just going to get another heteroflexible guy in spandex impaling bad guys with swords while he mugs to the camera.