Superman vs. Deadpool - A Comparison of Worldviews

Which character do you agree with?

In our last two podcasts, we looked at what Zach Snyder's film, "Man of Steel," and Tim Miller's film, "Deadpool," had to say about truth, specifically what the movie suggests is true about sentient beings, relationships, and spirituality. Talk about two completely different characters! Deadpool, in many regards, is like the anti-Superman. But what makes them different?

What makes Deadpool so different than Superman? It starts with worldview.

Defining "worldview"

Actions and behaviors are largely driven by a person's worldview, but what does that mean? Put simply, a "worldview" is a person's way of viewing the world around them. A worldview is shaped by a person's understanding of how the world works. Are people inherently good or inherently bad? Is there a God, many gods, or is the supernatural a myth? Do we have freedom of choice, or are choices made for us?

These are just a few questions that shape our worldview. You have a worldview, I have a worldview, Deadpool and Superman have a worldview. Even if you choose not to take a stance, you still have a worldview, it's just that your worldview is relativistic (meaning that everything is relative to the individual person's experience, there are no universal truths applicable to everyone). It's impossible not to have a worldview, and that worldview drives our behavior. It also drives Deadpool's behavior and Superman's behavior.

Deadpool vs. Superman

Deadpool's Worldview

In our Deadpool podcast, we described Deadpool (i.e., Wade Wilson) agnostic. He references "the next life," but doesn't take a stance on what that might entail. In other words, if there is a God (or many gods), s/he doesn't care about the world and doesn't interfere with daily life. That's a key part of his worldview. It shapes the way he sees the world and guides his behavior. Some other key attributes of Deadpool's worldview:

  • Human beings are inherently selfish.
  • Life is difficult and full of hardship.
  • There are no (or few) consequences to our actions (at least none that we can be sure of).
  • Improving the world is a useless endeavor.
  • Human life isn't inherently valuable, but our relationships do matter.
  • Doing "the right thing" doesn't always work out.
  • We're lucky if we get justice (especially if we're part of a marginalized community), and sometimes we have to take justice into our own hands.

We could list more (please do in the comments!), but I'll stop there. Notice how this worldview guides his decision-making. Why doesn't he team up with Colossus? Because Colossus believes the world needs order. Deadpool views the world as chaotic. He believes it's nearly impossible to bring order to the universe. All we can hope to do is make the right decision for ourselves given each individual situation.

Deadpool is agnostic, untrusting, very relativistic, and driven by his own needs. However, he does have compassion for those who are less fortunate, the marginalized in society. In this regard, he breaks his relativistic, selfish nature in order to defend those who no one else is defending.

Superman's Worldview

Standing in stark contrast to Deadpool's worldview, we have Superman, the Man of Steel. Here are some key aspects of Superman's worldview:

  • Human life is inherently valuable.
  • Life is a blessing, but is threatened by selfishness and greed.
  • Each individual must commit themselves to improving the universe.
  • We should do the right thing, regardless of the benefit derived by us.
  • Absolute truth does exist.
  • We must all work to create a just and fair world.

Notice the similarities in both of the last bullet points. Both characters take action. Neither character is content to ignore problems, but they're each driven by very different rationale for what they're willing to do and how they're willing to act.

Superman has a more traditional worldview, shaped by the Judeo-Christian values of his adoptive parents, and the altruistic values of Jor-El. Superman doesn't declare a belief in God, but does seek advice from a priest, so he's at least open to the issue. But, as a god-like alien, Kal is forced to deal with the pressure of others believing him to be a god.

What do you think?

Now it's your turn. What makes up your worldview? Are people good? Bad? Are you indifferent? Do you believe in absolute truth? Are you more like Superman or more like Deadpool?