Deadpool and the Nietzschean virtues

I must state first that the first time I mentioned these ideas to someone, they thought I was joking. They told me I was a ‘troll.’ I tried to explain to them that I was serious, but they would not accept it.

So, to head off remarks to that effect, no, I am not joking. I am not trolling. This is absolutely serious. It is something I have thought for a while, but I have only now gotten around to writing it up. It is about the meaning of the Deadpool character. I find Deadpool one of the most meaningful characters in all of film, and one of the most admirable; perhaps the most worthy of emulation of any character in film.

Here, my focus is on Deadpool as seen in the Deadpool film. However, many of my remarks apply to Deadpool in the comics.

My main point is this: Deadpool exemplifies the principles which Nietzsche promoted.

  1. Deadpool has, in the words of Nietzsche, ‘discovered himself, giving himself his own good and evil.’
    He is ‘A bad guy (in the view of society) who gets paid to fuck up worse guys.’ But while he has chosen the career of a mercenary/hit man, he has certain principles. He won’t hurt people more than he thinks they deserve it. However, he refuses, from the start, to adapt to society’s views of good and evil. He is, from the start, a ‘bad person,’ in the view of ‘good society.’ But he does not care what society says about morality. He lives beyond good and evil, if we think of good and evil as societal concepts. While we may not always think that his moral values are our moral values, we should emulate his disregard for society’s opinions, and his strength of will to give himself his own values. I am not saying we ought to take on Deadpool’s values, but we should take on his willingness to give himself his own values, rather than living according to society’s notions of good and evil.
  2. Deadpool constantly says ‘yes’ to life.
    No matter what happens, Deadpool is cheerful. Yes, he gets angry, but he never loses a sense of humor about life. Is this not one of Nietzsche’s virtues? More relevantly to us, is this not a desirable trait? To both ‘mix every chance in his pot,’ while also dancing and laughing away over it?
  3. Deadpool does not maintain his cheerfulness by simply being ‘zen,’ but rather, he struggles for his goals.
    Okay, one way to be ‘cheerful’ in a sense is to be zen: to try to avoid any kind of emotional reaction, to try to suppress our desires. Buddha said that ‘life is suffering; the cause of suffering is desire.’ But Deadpool is filled with desires. He fights for his desires with ‘maximum effort.’
    However, and this is a key point: Deadpool does not allow setbacks and failures to substantially upset him. Has his maximum effort failed? He laughs it off and plans how he can succeed next time. Has something else gone against him? He still maintains a sense of humor and continues to make jokes.

Deadpool does not simply live through life. He flies over life. He fights, incredibly hard, for his goals, but whenever he encounters something, he takes it with humour and dances over it. There are no chances in life that he cannot take on and redeem (in the sense of redemption that Nietzsche gives in Also Sprach Zarathustra: taking them and fitting them into your own plan for the future). And he does it with a laugh. Yet throughout this he does not give up on his goals.

There are some failings which Deadpool has, of course. While he enjoys himself, he does not seem to contribute substantially to humanity’s scientific or cultural achievements. On the plus side, he seeks to make himself be as great as he can be, but on the downside, he does not include making lasting contributions in his idea of greatness. And yet, everything else about him makes him an exemplar of Nietzsche’s virtues.

Let us take on Deadpool’s virtues. Let us reject any notion of society’s good and evil, and give ourselves our own. Let us always strive for our goals with ‘maximum effort.’ Even when maximum effort means enduring terrible pain, be it physical or mental. Yet let u s try to have deeper goals than Deadpool had. Let us strive to improve the state of humanity, either scientifically, culturally, or both.


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