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Warning: HUGE SPOILERS for Deadpool 2 ahead!
At the heart of the first Deadpool movie was the relationship between Wade Wilson and Vanessa. In addition to the obvious Deadpool-isms like raunchy humor and fourth wall-breaks, the love story between these two characters set Deadpool apart from what we usually see in superhero movies. Deadpool 2, however, drastically reduced Morena Baccarin's role by killing her character off right at the very beginning. Some have taken issue with this story choice and lobbed criticism at the film for killing a beloved female character. Responding to these complaints, director David Leitch defended the decision to kill Vanessa, saying:
I understand where they're coming from. 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.
For David Leitch, it sounds like the Vanessa death was a necessary part of the story because of the journey it forced Deadpool to go on. What David Leitch seems to be getting at is that Vanessa's death is what allows us to see beyond the jokes and the red suit to the person underneath when he's at his lowest low. Without her, he doesn't know who he is, so her death is the catalyst for his journey of self discovery. Even though Vanessa is gone, her influence remains, and while before she was the only person he cared about, after her death he learns to care about other people too.
As David Leitch notes to Comicbook.com, he isn't someone who has a problem with strong women in his movies, as the scene-stealing Domino attests to. I imagine many people who took issue with this decision because it is such an overused device in stories. This trope, coined 'fridging', was ironically borne out of an issue of a Green Lantern comic, where Lantern Kyle Rayner comes home to find his girlfriend brutally killed and stuffed in the refrigerator. This is just one of many such instances in storytelling where a female character suffers a horrible death that serves as motivation for a male hero to take action. So I can see why some people would take issue with Deadpool 2 using such a common trope.
The thing that David Leitch doesn't get into in his defense of the story decision is how the movie treats it. First off, the opening credits themselves are a commentary on the decision, reflecting the surprise many felt at her death. The other thing to take into consideration is that the end-credits scene is canon. Meaning that Vanessa can return in the next film, be it Deadpool 3 or X-Force, negating her death entirely. Whether that makes it any better that she was killed in the first place is a matter of opinion.
It is also worth considering the fact that the Deadpool films are satire. Deadpool 2 certainly subverts some tropes, like the hilarious deaths of the X-Force. But part of what is so wild about Deadpool 2 is that it makes fun of the various tropes of the genre, while actually employing them in its own story, as evidenced by Cable only having two charges in his time travel device. This is commented on ("lazy writing"), showing the film is self-aware, both making fun of the tropes and using them. So it is tough to know if a satire should be judged differently for employing the fridging trope.
Deadpool 2 is in theaters now. For all the latest on the Merc with a Mouth and other movie news, stay tuned to CinemaBlend.