Created by: Fabian Nicieza, Rob Liefeld
For: Marvel Comics
Currently owned by: Marvel Comics
First appearance: New Mutants #98
Real identity: Wade Wilson
With his constant wisecracks and slapstick antics, Deadpool seems like the most unlikely of costumed capes. However, Wade Wilson is not only becoming an increasingly significant player in the post-Secret Invasion Marvel Universe, he also made his big screen debut earlier this year in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. A dedicated fan of the character, Ryan Reynolds embraced the role of the Merc with a Mouth with relish. Now the Vancouver-born actor is poised to take centre stage in a Deadpool movie, which is tentatively scheduled for 2011. Not bad for a character, who first appeared as a villain in 1991 in Marvel’s original New Mutants title.
Co-plotted by artist Rob Liefeld and author Fabian Nicieza, the story pitted the scar-faced assassin against Cable and his young charges. Hired by the time-travelling Mr Tolliver, aka Cable’s adopted son Genesis, he defeats the junior X-Men through a combination of hand-to-hand combat and nifty gadgetry. However, he is then shot in the back by his former squeeze Copycat, masquerading as the mutant freebooter Domino.
After that initial skirmish, Deadpool returned several times to plague the team after the book had morphed into X-Force. In 1993, he graduated to his own inaugural mini-series The Circle Chase, penned once again by Nicieza and drawn by Joe Madueira. A second four-issue effort Sins of the Past, this time scripted by Mark Waid and illustrated by Ian Churchill, followed in 1994.
As his other nicknames including the Crimson Comedian and the Regeneratin’ Degenerate indicate, Deadpool is one super-anti-hero, who doesn’t take himself too seriously. But it wasn’t until he was awarded his own ongoing series in 1997 that such subversive elements rose to the fore.
“He’s gained a sense of humour,” notes current Deadpool scribe Daniel Way. “And more subtly, he’s gained depth as a character and become more tragic.”
Written and drawn by then newcomers Joe Kelly and Ed McGuinness, the series experimented with the traditional narrative conventions of comic books with Wade and other characters regularly breaking through the so-called Fourth Wall to converse directly to readers.
Kelly departed after #33 in 1999 and the series continued until #69 when poor sales led to the title being replaced by the even shorter-lived Agent X. Niceiza then returned to his creation in 2004 to helm Cable and Deadpool, which teamed Wade up with his old sparring partner. After fifty issues, the series was cancelled as the characters reverted to their own respective separate books. The present Deadpool series was launched in 2008 with Way and artists Paco Medina and Juan Vlasco adding a touch of pathos to Wade’s offbeat behaviour.
“What sets Deadpool apart from the other Marvel Universe characters is that he simply doesn’t play well with others, though he often wishes he could,” he suggests. “It’s the tragedy behind the comedy that is the character’s biggest asset.”
Beginning with a four-issue guest spot in Wolverine Origins, which the Michigan-born writer also pens, Way has delved deep Wade’s childhood. He recently revealed in Deadpool #11 that he attended the same school as Daredevil’s arch-nemesis, Bullseye. Born in Ohio, the young Wade was abused by his alcoholic army general father after his mother’s untimely early death, leading him into teenage delinquency. Following a stint in the military, he became a not entirely successful solider of fortune, changing his identity through technology and plastic surgery whenever he failed a mission.
Even though he is not actually a mutant, Deadpool is closely associated with the X-community after his spell in Weapon X, the joint US/Canadian superhuman enhancement project. He volunteered after being diagnosed cancer and was infused with a regenerative healing factor derived from the DNA of the secretive programme’s most famous subject, Wolverine. Unfortunately, his condition precipitated an abnormal reaction to the genetic formula, leaving him horrifically disfigured. He was then sent to the Workshop, a harsh, miserable hospice, where failed Weapon X candidates lived out their last days. It was here that he earned his superheroic non-de plume, which is derived from ‘the Dead Pool,’ a morbid game where inmates would bet on who would be the next to die.
Experimented upon by the sadistic renegade Doctor Killebrew, Wade suffers frequent vivid hallucinations. Eventually he attempts suicide only for his healing factor to kick in for the first time. He is consequently rendered impervious to harm although his traumatic experiences have left him mentally unstable. Something that Way has highlighted through the invention of the ‘Pool-O-Vision,’ a visual device that allows the reader to see the world through Deadpool’s eyes as he envisages those around him as all manner of fluffy bunnies and cartoon characters.
“Before Deadpool would always communicate his dementia via conversation with other characters, that is straight men,” he says. “But I have internalised all of that.”
Under Way’s guidance, Deadpool has played a central role in last year’s massive crossover Secret Invasion and its aftermath Dark Reign. Nick Fury hired him to steal some vital bio-data from a Skrull legion only for the information to be intercepted by Norman Osborn, who used it to defeat the Skrull Queen Veranke. Following the erstwhile Green Goblin promotion to the head of HAMMER, the more Machiavellian successor to the now defunct SHIELD, Deadpool has been a constant thorn in his side.
“Osborn is about control, Deadpool is all about chaos,” says Way. “Mix them together, shake well and out comes comic book gold.”
During this summer’s Deadpool/Thunderbolts crossover, he battled the covert strikeforce as he endeavoured to claim compensation from Osborn for his financial losses.
“Without a doubt, Deadpool is back,” declares Way. “Right now, the biggest power player in the Marvel Universe is Norman Osborn and who is he worried about? Deadpool!”
Way promises even greater things for Wade in the future. “After proving that he’s the world’s greatest mercenary, he decides that it’s time for something new,” he teases. “And ‘world’s greatest hero’ sounds kind of interesting.”
Indeed Deadpool is proving so popular that Marvel has recently added by a second ongoing monthly to its roster. Written by novelist Victor Gischler, Deadpool: Merc with a Mouth serves up a double dose of Deadpool as Wade goes head to head with his undead incarnation from the Marvel Zombies universe.
Way believes that it is Deadpool’s maverick free spirit that makes him such an attractive character to write and to read. “What I find most appealing about him is the fact that the rules literally do not apply,” he says. “There is nothing that can’t be done in a Deadpool book.”
Deadpool’s main superpower is a Wolverine-esque regenerative healing factor. He can quickly regrow severed limbs and damaged vital organs. His head can even be reattached, making him almost impossible to kill. He also boasts superhuman strength and agility and is an adept marksman, swordsman and martial artist.
CAREER LOW POINT
Deadpool’s reinvention as the mysterious Agent X was so poorly received that the book was put out of its misery after only 15 issues. It climaxed with writer Gale Simone revealing the mysterious central protagonist to not be Deadpool after all but Nijo, an Asian American assassin, whose brother apparently died at Wade’s hands.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Director: Gavin Hood
Played by: Ryan Reynolds
A smart-mouthed but highly skilled gun-for-hire who is set on Logan’s tail, the screen incarnation of Deadpool is so obnoxious that Weapon X leader Colonel William Stryker declares that he would be “the perfect soldier if only he could keep his mouth shut.” After being fatally wounded, he is brought back to life as Weapon XI. Boasting several other mutants powers including Cyclops’s optic blasts, John Wraith’s teleportation power and Wolverine’s healing factor and adamantium blades, he beats Wolvie to a pulp before being decapitated by Sabretooth.
However, in a post-credits sequence in some cuts of the film, Deadpool’s hand is seen reaching for his severed head. He then opens his eyes, laying the seeds for the impending spin-off film. Although it could be delayed following Reynolds’ recent casting as Green Lantern, he promises that it will be “an authentic Deadpool movie.”
“I get to be the authentication police, in a weird way,” says the actor, who will be taking a hands-on role in the production. “To their credit, the studio wants to make it as close to the source material as possible. So he’s going to be the Merc with the Mouth, he’s going to have the scarred-up face; he’s going to be in the suit. It’s going to be incredible.”
• With obvious similarities costumes between the characters’ enhanced abilities and costumes, Deadpool resembles a mentally unhinged version of the Teen Titans archenemy Deathstroke. Nicieza acknowledged this with the Merc with the Mouth’s real name Wade Wilson, a play on Deathstroke’s alias Slade Wilson.
• Former Deadpool writer Joe Kelly later paid homage to the character’s origins in 2006’s Superman/ Batman Annual #1, which featured an unpredictable anti-matter counterpart of Deathstroke, who looked and acted suspiciously like Deadpool.
• The Ultimate Universe Deadpool first appeared in Ultimate Spider-man #91 as a cohort of the Reavers. Called Wadey Wilson, writer Brian Bendis portrays him as a human supremacist who is hired by Mojo to hunt mutants on live television.
• In Alex Ross, Jim Krueger and John Paul Leon’s dystopian future Marvel series Earth X, Deadpool is said to have assumed the identity of the late Daredevil. Working as a circus stuntman, his healing factor allows him to overcome even seemingly fatal injuries.
• The Marvel Zombies Deadpool is dubbed the ‘Merc with Half a Mouth’ as half of his jaw is missing.
• During the Deadpool/Thunderbolts crossover, Wade falls for Black Widow II, aka Yelena Belova, who must have a soft spot for him as well as she later sews his head back on after the ferocious climax.
From Cable to Wolverine, Deadpool has clashed with many heroes and villains over his near two-decade long existence. However, it is current rival Norman Osborn who could turn out to be his biggest foe.