Deadpool 3: The secret history of Wolverine and Deadpool

Deadpool and Wolverine
(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Wolverine and Deadpool are two of the most popular and recognizable superheroes in the world. If you're reading this, there's a very strong chance you've also read some Deadpool or Wolverine comics or at least seen some of their movies. 

But the Deadpool-Wolverine connection goes much deeper than the friendship between Deadpool actor Ryan Reynolds and returning Wolverine actor Hugh Jackman, which will be on full display in the now officially announced Deadpool 3.

Wolverine and Deadpool's ties go way back in comics, primarily through the Weapon X program, as loosely adapted in the film X-Men Origins: Wolverine - and there's much more to their relationship and even their Weapon X connections than you may realize.

The Weapon X Program

Marvel Comics Presents #74 cover

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

As we said, the biggest connection between Deadpool and Wolverine comes from the Weapon X program, an experimental program run by the Canadian and US governments to create super-soldiers and living weapons to act as spies, soldiers, and superheroes in the service of the governments that made them.

Both Wolverine and Deadpool were experimented on by Weapon X (which is itself part of a larger program called Weapon Plus that goes back as far as WWII and the transformation of Steve Rogers into a super-soldier). 

Wolverine's involvement in Weapon X predates Deadpool's, with Weapon X being responsible for injecting Adamantium into Wolverine's bones, and for wiping and scrambling his mind, leading to the long-running mysteries about his true past and identity.

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)
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Oddly enough, as a later recruit to the Weapon X program, the experiments that turned Wade Wilson into Deadpool were partially based on Wolverine's mutant physiology, with Wolverine's own mutant healing factor providing the genetic basis for Deadpool's artificial healing factor.

That strange secret was revealed way back in Deadpool/Death Annual '98, an issue in which Deadpool teams up with Marvel's physical embodiment of Death (and which we named one of the best Deadpool stories of all time).

But rather than a retcon, the connection between Deadpool and Wolverine was envisioned from the start of his creation by artist Rob Liefeld, who has stated over the years that Deadpool's history with the Weapon X program was baked in all the way back when he made his first appearance in 1991's New Mutants #98 (opens in new tab). And indeed, those connections have been seeded throughout Deadpool's history.

Some of this history was on display in the not-very-well-received 2009 film X-Men Origins: Wolverine, in which Ryan Reynolds's fast-talking Wade Wilson is turned into a weird kind of living weapon with the powers of multiple mutants (infamously with his mouth sewn shut), including Wolverine's healing factor. Deadpool's initial film origin was essentially discarded for the first Deadpool movie (and meta-acknowledged for laughs in the sequel), though Wade was still given an artificial healing factor - something that may factor into Wolverine and Deadpool's movie team-up.

X-Force

Uncanny X-Force #5 panel

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Even though Deadpool isn't a mutant, he's often been associated with mutants and mutant teams due to his connections to the Weapon X program and to other concepts and characters in X-Men continuity. He's also been part of an X-Men team - the hardcore, killer black-ops team known as X-Force - which he served on alongside Wolverine.

Deadpool's connections to X-Force go back to his earliest introductions in the Marvel Universe in New Mutants, the title that became X-Force right after Deadpool's debut. 

The original X-Force was a paramilitary team that broke away from the X-Men under the leadership of the enigmatic mutant Cable, who Deadpool also has a long history with. But the X-Force name was later revived as the X-Men team that takes on the most violent, brutal missions, often acting in secret from other mutants.

In the 2010 title Uncanny X-Force (opens in new tab), Deadpool and Wolverine are two of the core characters of the squad alongside fellow Weapon Plus subject Fantomex, and several other mutants with a killer edge.

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)
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Deadpool and Wolverine's shared history with the Weapon Plus program plays a central role in several stories from the title, as does their shared willingness to do things that are at best morally questionable in pursuit of a noble goal.

Deadpool fans will remember a very different (and tragically less effective) version of X-Force in Deadpool 2. But unlike in the film, the team is alive and well in comics, with Wolverine appearing as a core member of the current X-Force (opens in new tab) title.

Weirdly enough, Deadpool and Wolverine have also both been Avengers - though not at the same time. Wolverine first joined Earth's Mightiest Heroes back in 2005 for the New Avengers relaunch following the original version of the team's dissolution in Avengers: Disassembled.

As for Deadpool, he joined up for the third incarnation of the title Uncanny Avengers (opens in new tab) in the wake of the 2015 Secret Wars event, which centered on a team of humans, mutants, Inhumans, and others from around the Marvel Universe all coming together as the 'Avengers Unity Squad.'

Wolverine and Deadpool in the MCU

Deadpool

(Image credit: Disney/20th Century)

The connection between Deadpool, Wolverine, and the Avengers - as well as Secret Wars - has some tantalizing potential implications for the MCU. But will they go there?

For now, we're primarily expecting that Deadpool 3 will focus on the biggest connection between Deadpool and Wolverine: Weapon X and their shared healing factor. Deadpool's healing factor has been a plot point since his first film, so there's a possible 'in' for that kind of story already on the table.

And moreover, even if Wolverine and Deadpool's shared healing factor isn't a plot point in Deadpool 3, the fact that they're both nigh-invincible badasses is undoubtedly going to be on display - especially since the film will reportedly be the first R-rated MCU movie.

The secret history of Weapon X is a big part of some of the best Wolverine comics of all time.

I've been Newsarama's resident Marvel Comics expert and general comic book historian since 2011. I've also been the on-site reporter at most major comic conventions such as Comic-Con International: San Diego, New York Comic Con, and C2E2. Outside of comic journalism, I am the artist of many weird pictures, and the guitarist of many heavy riffs. (They/Them)