Awkward superheroes: Deadpool and Po

Photo illustration
Photo illustration

What really is the difference between ‘Deadpool’ and ‘Kung Fu Panda’?

By Jamal Al-Bayaa, Staff Writer

The plots in Deadpool and Kung Fu Panda are eerily similar. They’re built off of the same “awkward superhero” genre-type, where the character is ugly, witty, and exceptionally poor at fulfilling the traditional superhero role. Instead, they excel at four things: breaking (superhero) clichés, breaking the fourth wall, breaking any overly serious, “downer” parts of the movie with immediate comedic relief, and breaking jaws with wicked choreography.

Both movies make you reconsider everything you’ve ever thought a superhero should be.

Superheroes are traditionally strong, courageous people, so Kung Fu Panda created a hero that was fat and cowardly. Superheroes are supposed to be chivalrous good-hearted people, so Deadpool created a hero that was sadistic, immoral, and excessively sexual.

Recreating movie superheroes is effective at catching our attention because of its ability to take old, dusty plots and add a touch of life to them by mocking the old movies they’re inspired by. We laugh at the ridiculousness of it all. How can we not, when we’re presented with superheroes breaking their own fists on metal giants, or completely messing up the timing of their expected superhero entrance? This is almost exactly what Charlie Chaplin did in the 30s by slipping on banana peels, getting up, and then slipping on them again. If my Philosophy teacher saw these movies, he would call this “an appeal to ridiculousness.”

These recycled plots only survive because of A-list actors who consistently provide the comedic relief.

But… Kung Fu Panda doesn’t actually have a recycled plot when you look deeper into it. It leaves its older audiences to ponder on themes such as morality, loyalty, and inner peace. The scenes between fights scenes genuinely develop the characters and do a fantastic job at making you emotionally invested in them and the story. You might even find yourself crying at one point, not because you’re sad, but because you’re so happy that everything worked out.

Kung Fu Panda finds a way to present all of this information and be an incredibly funny movie, yet it never breaks character as a children’s movie. While it does all this, it presents a new superhero mould for children who are still defining what a superhero is.

Kung Fu Panda provides options for the child in us all, but also the adult in us who’s looking for a bit more substance from a movie, and has more pressing issues than listening to 1001 ways to reference sex.

Deadpool’s success comes from the fact that it’s marketed to the most over-indulged-yet-neglected demographic of all time: the young adult who goes to the movies to be reminded of their childhood heroes, not necessarily to watch a good movie. While these young adults are legally old enough to hear about sex and watch people get cut open and torn apart, they’re often not quite old enough to recognize and support movies with any substantial plots.

Maybe you enjoyed Deadpool more than Kung Fu Panda, and you wouldn’t be wrong if you did—there is no “right” movie style. But, undeniably, you have to admit that you chose cheap laughs over thoughtful movie watching, probably because it’s so much easier.