Two weeks into its theatrical run, it’s safe to say that overall ‘Deadpool 2‘ has been a resounding success. Despite that, the film’s reception hasn’t been without its controversies. The most significant of those has revolved around the film’s treatment of Vanessa, played by Morena Baccarin, who some critics feel was “fridged.”
“Fridging,” for those not in the know, refers to the storytelling trope of killing, injuring, depowering, or otherwise discarding or trivializing a female character, often for the sole purpose of advancing a male character’s story. The trope takes its name from the website Women in Refrigerators (itself named in reference to the gruesome climax of ‘Green Lantern #54’, in which Alexandra DeWitt, the girlfriend of then-neophyte Green Lantern Kyle Rayner, was murdered and stuffed into a refrigerator by Major Force), which curated a list of fridging victims.
Speaking to ComicBook.com, ‘Deadpool 2’ director David Leitch offered his take on the controversy, suggesting that taking Vanessa out of the picture (in one way or another) was essentially necessary to facilitate the audience’s emotional investment in Deadpool himself.
“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.”
So was Vanessa fridged? It’s arguably not the most clean cut answer. On the one hand, she is killed and her death is effectively the inciting incident for the story arc that Wade follows throughout the film. On the other, her death is ultimately undone through time travel and even before that happens, she remains a constant presence in the film, as Leitch himself points out:
“And quite frankly, she doesn’t leave the movie. She is a huge point of contact for him and learning his lesson in the world and learning that one act of kindness can chance history. And I think without her being the vehicle that he learns that from, I don’t know, it wouldn’t have been the same films and so we wouldn’t have had that emotional context. Even the scene at the end where they visit each other in the afterlife, hugely emotional, great performances by both of them. So again, I don’t think she left the movie.”
What do you think? Was Vanessa fridged, or is this whole thing a tempest in a teapot? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to check back with ScienceFiction.com for more on ‘Deadpool 2’ and other ‘X-Men’ films as it becomes available.
Directed by David Leitch, ‘Deadpool 2’ will see Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, T.J. Miller, Leslie Uggams, Stafan Kapicic, and Brianna Hildebrand reprise their roles from the original alongside newcomers Josh Brolin, Zazie Beetz and Jack Kesy. The film is now playing in theaters.