Vanessa is the only person that Wade Wilson loves. He has no family, and his friends are inconsistent with their emotional availability. Wade separated himself from Vanessa in the first film for what he thought was the best. In the second film, to give Wade conflict, the writers chose to kill the one person he loves.
Wade changes throughout the course of the film as he struggles with his identity in the aftermath of Vanessa’s death. He tries to be a hero like the X-Men, but it doesn’t work out. He tries to form a supergroup of his own, but it leads to most of their deaths. Blind Al tells Wade that pain shows people who they really are -- but this pain and its following enlightenment came at the expense of another female character’s life. (The same can be said for Cable and his dead wife and daughter. Their deaths lead Cable on a revenge quest, which is yet another textbook example of fridging.)
To make matters worse, after she dies, Vanessa literally acts as a spirit guide for Wade throughout the film. He sees her in visions, and what she says to him changes what he does in the film. She could have easily given this same advice alive. While Wade does need motivation in the sequel, it could have been done in any number of other ways. In the movie, a repeated meta-line Deadpool makes is “lazy storytelling” in response to something being too easy. Ironically, Deadpool 2’s use of fridging is exactly that -- lazy storytelling.
At the end of Deadpool 2, Wade uses Cable’s time travel device to go back in time to prevent Vanessa’s death... but the fridging was already done. Bringing Vanessa back doesn’t negate the journey Wade made in the aftermath of her death. Reversible fridging is still fridging.
Fridging has been used so repeatedly, audiences are practically numb to it. The repetitive devaluing of female characters cements the notion that women are expendable and “less than” men. When women are repeatedly treated as less human in the fiction we consume, it informs how we perceive women in real life. When women are seen as less than, this affects their pay, their healthcare, and their overall safety.
The Deadpool 2 writers, who are coincidentally all men, have since come out to claim ignorance on their use of fridging. Screenwriter Rhett Reese in a Vulture interview said, “we didn’t really know what fridging was.” However, ignorance is not an excuse. When you break a law, ignorance doesn’t completely absolve you of punishment. And while fridging is obviously not a crime, there have been too many murders of female characters in order to benefit male ones, and in the end, the stories, characters and the audience all suffer for it.
In theaters nationwide, director David Leitch’s Deadpool 2 stars Ryan Reynolds as the titular Deadpool, Morena Baccarin as Vanessa, T.J. Miller as Weasel, Leslie Uggams as Blind Al, Brianna Hildebrand as Negasonic Teenage Warhead, Stefan Kapičić as Colossus, Zazie Beetz as Domino, Julian Dennison as Russell and Josh Brolin as Cable.