Our new blog contributions start today with a reflection on the eve of the Deadpool release by our friend, Jared Lee.
*Full disclaimer: I’m at best a casual geek. I do not know the history/mythology of Deadpool, other than I think he’s hilarious and a fantastic anti-hero. I know enough to be dangerous, as they say. Please be gentle.*
I am really excited for the new Deadpool movie to come out this weekend. And I’m a Lutheran pastor.
And I’m sure more than a few of you are going to say, “How do those two things go together?”
And the answer is, quite simply, “easily.”
The longer answer is that Deadpool, as an R-rated film, has an opportunity to do something that a lot of adults are sorely missing in their lives, and that is to see a fairy tale grounded in their reality in a way that Disney often misses trying to market family-friendly films - sadly, where our modern fairy tales often come from.
And not only does Deadpool offer us a glimpse into an adult fairy tale, he also brings to the forefront my favorite kind of hero - the messy, complicated one.
Deadpool has a weird past. He has flaws. He’s got a foul-mouth. And he’s no stranger to making morally ambiguous choices.
In all these things though, Deadpool also has an interesting condition, one that I am choosing to read theologically. Deadpool has a regenerative healing condition.
That is to say, he is always being made new.
If that’s not an excellent analogy for Christian baptism, I don’t know what is.
Deadpool, this messy, complicated, often morally-ambiguous hero, filled with flaws and scars is continually being made new.
The Judeo-Christian tradition is filled with these morally-ambiguous heroes. All with flaws and scars. Noah was a drunk, Jacob was a con-man, David an adulterer and murderer, Jonah had some anger issues, Matthew was a tax collector, Paul swore a lot (even in those letters we canonized!), and the list goes on and on.
And this extends through the Christian tradition as well. A few of my favorite more recent examples of flawed heroes are Stanley Hauerwas who famously swears like a sailor and even Mother Teresa whose depression we have come to discover over the past few years.
Yet, all of these saints in our tradition experience an encounter (or several) with God that continually make them new and empowers them to make a difference in the world.
In Deadpool, we are able to see ourselves. We can identify with making choices that have no right answer, we can identify with being foul-mouthed and flawed, and we can also identify with this idea that even so we are continually being made new.
Deadpool’s gritty, adults-only, fairy tale is one that tells us that we don’t have to be perfect to experience grace. Deadpool reminds us that even after we’ve experienced this grace and begin this daily renewal process we don’t always like it - that we too, can be reluctant heroes in the story that God is telling.
Deadpool speaks to me, personally, as a pastor with scars and flaws, one who experiences grace and struggles to accept it all the time. One who is can be reluctant to follow God’s story and often breaks the fourth-wall (prayer) to tell God that I’m not exactly thrilled with this turn of events. And one who is continually surprised and made new by what God has in mind.
So I’m excited for Deadpool, I’m excited to see a different kind of fairy-tale/superhero on the big screen, and I’m excited to see Deadpool’s character continue to grow and change and develop (dare I say, sanctified?) over the course of his story.
And if it doesn’t happen in this film, well, there’s always the sequel right?
Jared is an ELCA pastor in Lexington, KY. Favorite character: Deathstroke. (Current) Favorite Show: Game of Thrones. Favorite Film: Rocknrolla. Favorite Book: Lamb by Christopher Moore. If you want to see more of his random thoughts, including sample sermons, check out theologyjourney.blogspot.com. Follow Jared on Twitter, @jaredjlee89.