Deadpool is a parody of Marvel films, from its mock opening credits to its frequent fourth wall breaks to its post credits non-gag. However, it remains faithful to the formula it mocks. It also continues, without irony or comment, the standard and sexist tiresome tropes of men fending for themselves and protecting women. You cannot rely on social authority, and women need rescuing. That’s not just the driver of the revenge plot, culminating in the usual mano a mano battle, but in the set up, where our hero is a member of a group of vigilantes. Although apparently set in contemporary society, police are invisible. Even after a major freeway crash and prolonged shootout, there’s not so much as a siren. The sexism (hooker with a heart of gold, gratuitous strip club scene), is hardly redeemed by two tough female sidekicks. One helps the hero, and one helps the villain. A minor subplot reinforces the message that women are prizes for men to fight over.

Then there is the violence. It’s frequent, and sometimes gory. The hero and villain are both largely immune to pain, allowing extended fight scenes, and the hero’s abilities allow him to sustain almost injury, including dismemberment, without lasting ill effects. Films featuring male action heroes being brutalized have uncomfortable messages about masculinity, and those are reinforced with the plot, character, and other elements here. I’m not sure whether the Wile E. Coyote level of injury, the jokes, and the fourth wall breaks lessen those messages or make us more susceptible to them. We are constantly reminded that this is just a movie, and it’s all in fun. It’s as playful and full of wisecracks as 1994’s The Mask, with more sex, swearing, and blood.

Film classifiers are not concerned about violence per se, let alone messages about masculinity. Their only concern is suitability for children, as per objective guidelines. Ontario and Manitoba settled on the high 18A rating, and this also makes Manitoba the only province where no one under 14 can view the film. Ontario threw in almost every content warning they have. The rest of Canada settled on a mid-teen classification, and consistently warned about violence, nudity, and sex. As usual, the Americans have the highest classification. Other jurisdictions I checked all set a mid-teen restriction, with no allowance for parental accompaniment. This makes Canada one of the few countries where a fourteen year old can see the film, unaccompanied in most provinces.

The additional details offered by many jurisdictions just list the elements affecting the rating, but Quebec and New Zealand integrate the rating into a synopsis, and acknowledge the humour. Alberta provides a separate synopsis and elements list, and also lists thematic elements. For Deadpool, these are:

  • Heroism versus revenge
  • Humour as a coping mechanism
  • Love and connection

As Pauline Kael said of The Road Warrior, “for all its huffing and puffing, this is a sappy, sentimental film,” and that’s perhaps an apt message about masculinity. The list of thematic elements are good points to ponder. I’d like to think that by acknowledging problematic messages in the film, we are less susceptible to them – and can enjoy, guilt free, a fantasy of power and love.

Area Classification Advisory Additional Information
Maritimes 14a Under 14 requires adult accompaniment. Brutal Violence, Coarse Language, Sexual Content, Nudity
Quebec c13 Under 13 requires adult accompaniment. Violence,
Langage vulgaire
Le film plonge le spectateur dans l’univers des bandes dessinées de la maison Marvel et présente un justicier qui est particulièrement grossier et cynique. Avec un certain humour, cette histoire de vengeance montre quelques brèves séquences de nudité et de sensualité. Des réflexions truffées d’expressions vulgaires, des fusillades et des bagarres violentes avec détails sanglants jalonnent le parcours du protagoniste.
Ontario 18a Under 18 requires adult accompaniment. Brutal Violence, Coarse Language, Sexual Content
  • Occasional gory/grotesque images
  • Aggressive/ frequent slurs/sexual references
  • Coarse language
  • Nudity in a non-sexual context
  • Partial or full nudity in a brief sexual situation
  • Illustrated or verbal references to drugs, alcohol or tobacco
  • Crude content
  • Scenes that may cause a child brief anxiety, or fear
  • Embracing and kissing
  • sexual innuendo
  • Implied sexual activity
  • Limited instances of brief simulated sexual activity
  • Tobacco use
  • Violent acts shown in clear, unequivocal and realistic detail with blood and tissue damage
  • Limited instances of brief, visually explicit portrayals of violence
Manitoba 18a Under 18 requires adult accompaniment. No admittance under 14. Brutal Violence, Gory Scenes, Coarse Language
  • slurs/sexual references
  • frequent coarse strong aggressive language
  • nudity in sexual situation
  • frequent explicit violence
  • torture
  • simulated sexual activity
  • occasional crude/disturbing/offensive scenes
  • alcohol use
  • frequent gory/grotesque images
Alberta 14a Under 14 requires adult accompaniment. Nudity, Sexual Content, Violence Rated 14A for coarse language, portrayals of sexual activity, nudity, and frequent genre violence in a comic context.

Frequent use of the sexual expletive and variations, some in a sexual context; frequent use of scatological slang; infrequent use of vulgar expressions and profanity.
Frequent sexual references in a comic context.
Frequent portrayals of gun, weapons, and hand-to-hand violence in a fantasy context – some blood and dismemberment.
Infrequent portrayals of sexual activity – no nudity, some detail.
Infrequent breast, buttock, and brief male frontal nudity in a non-sexual context.

British Columbia 14a Under 14 requires adult accompaniment. Coarse language, violence, sexually suggestive scenes, nudity The following were determinative to the classification decision:

Approximately 140 instances of coarse and/or sexual language;
Several scenes of violence depicting beating, shooting, impalement, decapitation, dismemberment and/or explosion;
Two sexually suggestive scenes with one depicting nude breasts;
Five scenes of nudity, depicting breasts, buttocks and/or genitalia, in sexual and non-sexual contexts.

Classifiers also noted the following:

  • Scene depicting sexual content.
MPAA (U.S.A.)  R Under 17 requires parent or guardian. Strong violence and language throughout, sexual content and graphic nudity.
BBFC 15 Under 15 not admitted. strong bloody violence, strong language, sex references Violence: Strong bloody violence occurs throughout, including sight of blood spurts after shootings and stabbings. There is also sight of gory decapitations and limbs being severed.

Language: There is frequent use of strong language (‘f**k’, ‘motherf**ker’), as well as milder terms including ‘douche’, ‘dick’, ‘cock’, ‘shit’, ‘ass’, ‘god’, ‘damn’ and ‘Jesus’.

Sex: There are frequent strong sex references, both visual and verbal, including the suggestion of a couple using a sex toy and some crude descriptions of sexual acts.

Australia  MA 15+  Under 15 not admitted. Strong bloody violence and sex scene  See chart for details.
Ireland 16  Under 16 not admitted. Very strong violence. Strong sex references and nudity.  See chart for details.
New Zealand R16 Under 16 not admitted. Graphic violence, sex scenes and offensive language. ‘Deadpool’, based on the Marvel superhero, is not one for the kids! It’s an over-the-top superhero parody laden with crude sexual humour and graphic violence. Wade Wilson, an ex- solider now working as a two-bit mercenary, is diagnosed with cancer. He gets involved in an experiment run by the evil and sadistic Ajax who promises a cure through genetic mutation. Wade is cured but only after the ‘treatment’ leaves him hideously disfigured. Assuming the new identity of Deadpool, Wade goes on the hunt for Ajax to make him reverse the disfigurement. Helped by an unlikely band of allies, Wade confronts Ajax in a high energy showdown. ‘Deadpool’ is classified R16 because of some really graphic violence, some strong sexual content and the creatively crude and humorously offensive one liners the antihero is famous for.
South Africa  16 Under 16 not admitted.  L S V bad language,  scenes involving sex, sexual conduct or sexually-related activity, physical and psychological violent scenes
Hong Kong III Under 18 not admitted. Contains very strong violence,strong sexuality, nudity, sexual references and strong language.

Click the name of the jurisdiction for more details about the classification (if available).