Minor controversy has erupted over Deadpool 2‘s “Martha” joke, with Ryan Reynolds himself defending the moment.
The scene in question, which also appeared as a TV spot before the movie was released, has Deadpool, played by Reynolds, trying to explain why he’s late to his fiancée, Vanessa (Morena Baccarin). One of the excuses he gives is “I was fighting a caped bad-ass, only to discover his mom is named Martha, too.”
As most people will recognize, this was a gag at the expense of the DC Extended Universe’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. As the two title characters of that film were fighting and Batman (Ben Affleck) seemed poised to stab Superman (Henry Cavill) with a kryptonite spear, Superman begged Batman to “Save Martha,” in reference to his adoptive mother (Diane Lane), who had been captured by Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg). As Batman’s dead mother was named Martha Wayne (Lauren Cohan), he does not kill Superman.
This coincidental connection was supposed to represent Batman realizing that, despite being an alien of immense power, Superman was ultimately as “human” as anyone else, with his own loved ones. Ultimately, however, many in the audience found it so overdone and silly that it became something of a meme, and represented the flaws they perceived in Batman v Superman as a whole.
The movie has its vocal defenders, however, and Reynolds―who is a producer and co-writer for Deadpool 2, as well as its star―decided to speak to them about it. Aside from noting that he did not write that particular joke, he also said “The ‘Martha’ gag, it’s a perfectly Deadpool moment. I think Deadpool is willing to break a few eggs to make that omelette.”
As a comic book character, Deadpool is famous for not only being raunchy and ridiculous, but also very meta, and the movies have carried those traits over as well. He frequently breaks the fourth wall and makes jokes about other movies, including other entries in the X-Men franchise, Reynolds’ past films like Green Lantern, and yes, rival superhero flicks from the DCEU and Marvel Cinematic Universe.
If anything, the biggest problem with the “Martha” joke could be that it feels unnecessary; everyone else has already made fun of the meme. Perhaps Deadpool should try to find some more topical jokes.