Deadpool 2 is filled with surprises, including a surprising death that happens before the opening credits have rolled. This death plays a big part in Deadpool 2‘s plot, but it’s also part of a storytelling trend that many would like to do away with. But Deadpool 2 director David Leitch thinks otherwise.
At the start of Deadpool 2, Deadpool/Wade Wilson’s girlfriend Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) is gunned down by a criminal. Vanessa’s death triggers a change in Deadpool, who descends into depression and self-pity before getting involved with a new profanity-laced adventure. A lot of people took issue with this death, primarily because it seems to fall into the dreaded “fridging” zone.
If you’re unfamiliar with fridging, the term has its roots in an issue of Green Lantern, in which the comic book hero comes home to find his girlfriend murdered and stuffed into a refrigerator. Comics writer Gail Simone later popularized the term by compiling a list of female comic book characters who were killed off for the sake of a cheap plot device. Since then, fridging has been used as a term describing whenever a film, TV show, or other form of entertainment offs a character (usually a female) as a cheap way to further the plot.
To be clear: killing a character off in a work of fiction isn’t a bad thing. It’s all about how you handle it, though. If you’re simply bumping-off one of the few female characters in your narrative for shock value or for a cheap way to give your male protagonist motivation, you’re going to raise an eyebrow or two.
I was one of the people who was bothered by the fridging of Vanessa in Deadpool 2, although the film sort of handles this better than most. The opening credits directly acknowledge things by having “DID SHE JUST DIE?” flash across the screen, and during the film’s post-credit sequence, Deadpool actually travels back in time and saves Vanessa’s life, thus making her death null and void. Still, in an interview, Deadpool 2 writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick claimed they had never even heard of “fridging” before, which is a little strange and indicates they perhaps hadn’t put much thought into this whole thing.
For his part, director David Leitch defends the scene, although he also is willing to acknowledge its problematic elements. In an interview with Comicbook.com, Leitch said he “understands” where people are coming from when they take issue with Vanessa’s death, but adds:
“As a filmmaker, I believe I have a record of strong female characters and proactive female characters. But with Deadpool it’s different. It’s Deadpool’s movie, and you need to take everything away from him to humanize him. He can be grating and he can be sort of offensive and he can be all these things, but you need an emotional hook that grounds the movie that we can go on this journey with this character and experience Deadpool.”
I see what Leitch is saying here, but I also feel like there was probably a better way of giving Deadpool motivation beyond murdering his girlfriend. But again, it’s hard to hold this one against Deadpool 2 too much, because the film’s post-credits scenes erases the event from existence. At the very least, maybe being asked about this issue will inspire Leitch and company to be more aware of it for future films. We can only hope.
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