I just got back from seeing Deadpool. Although the character would bristle at being included in the genre, it was a good super hero movie. Our protagonist is the classic antihero: he’s flawed, potty-mouthed, and obsessed with revenge. Like many people in this world, he uses humor to cover up the burning anger within. But, in the spirit of the film, I’m going to break the fourth wall. I don’t want to talk about the merits of the film. I want to compare it to modern Paganism and magickal practice.
I’m getting a bit tired of super hero movies. There are some really great ones. I loved the first Iron Man, but that franchise hasn’t been the same since. Batman and Superman have been reinvented and regurgitated so many times over the decades that by now they just need to trot out a few recognizable icons then devolve into a CGI fueled orgy of fight sequences. Marvel has a plan to continue releasing its films at least through 2020, but I’m not sure the market can take it. As Deadpool might say, “the market is getting saturated and the audiences are getting tired. The genre is getting stale.”
That is what may make Deadpool the pivotal film in Marvel’s master plan. While Marvel’s promoters like to bill Deadpool as an antihero, this movie presents him more as a meta-hero. As the movie progresses, his voice jumps in to offer analysis and commentary on everything from the producer’s budget, to casting choices, to the cinematography of the final scene. His commentary is funny and completely true to his character, but it also betrays something about the genre: we’ve all gotten used to it, and you’re going to have to be pretty damn good/different/shocking to get noticed. The opening credits say it all. Top billing goes not to actors’ names, but to well-known tropes such as “A British Villain,” “A CGI Character,” and “A Gratuitous Cameo.” These movies are a formula, and audiences are catching on.
So Deadpool gets to be the meta-hero. He steps off the screen to dissect his own film, the genre, and the machinations that go on behind the scenes to make a movie happen. It’s understandable. Marvel is under pressure to keep their universe fresh and exciting. They have to innovate and change. In that way, they are much like each and every one of us.
One of the things I love about Paganism in general and Witchcraft in particular is the chance to step briefly away from your life – step into that “place beyond a place and time beyond a time” – to get perspective and advice on where your life is going. Are you making the right casting decisions in your life? Have your everyday routines become rote and dry? Are you challenging yourself to grow and evolve or are you mindlessly cranking out the same existence each day? What is your Will and how do you plan to get there?
If you are a practitioner of Wicca or another type of Witchcraft, you have the eight sabbats of the Wheel to step back and offer commentary on your life. You have the chance to ask yourself what you want, what you are doing to get it, and if you’re happy with how it turned out. You also have the moon cycles to go about the different methods of meditating, ritualizing, and manifesting the life you want. It’s a beautiful system that, if practiced with discipline, can lead you to a more successful and happier life. You can be your own meta-hero; your own Deadpool- always able to heal yourself.
Sometimes a genre gets stale, and it needs to be reinvented. Sometimes a life begins to grow moldy around the corners and needs to be changed. Either way, it’s necessary to step out of the situation to gain perspective. Whether it’s a character stepping out of the formula or a witch stepping into meditation, journey, or ritual, it’s vital for us to step back and gain perspective in order to ensure a happy, successful life (or film franchise). Innovate and change. It takes hard work, a strong magickal practice, and – to quote our hero – “Maximum Effort.”