Deadpool, The Merc With A Mouth, is steamrolling toward theaters like a chimichanga food truck. We are now less than one month away from seeing writer Fabian Nicieza and artist Rob Liefeld's 25 year old creation leap onto the big screen.
As we move toward release date I thought it would be fun to take a few minutes and talk about how we got here. I think it's safe to say that we all think that this movie will be a huge success. Not to the monetary level that Star Wars, Jurassic Park, or The Avengers were, but a success among the fans, and probably a commercial success as well.
From everything we've seen, Fox is treating this character with a level of respect that we haven't even seen from the X-Men franchise consistently (see Wolverine origins, see "Deadpool" in Wolverine origins.) From the content, to the gore, to the quick wit, this looks like it has the makings of a cult classic.
But where did it all start? Sure, odds are if you're reading this, this being a blog on an online comic book store's website, you know that Deadpool was introduced in New Mutants # 98 in 1991 (shameless plug, we have 2 affordable mid-grade copies for sale currently). But how did a character that didn't even get his own ongoing series until 1997, after only making a handful of appearances for the following few years after New Mutants # 98 become a character that is now so beloved?
For me, you have to point the finger squarely at 1 person. That person is obviously Rob Liefeld. Not only did Rob create the look of Deadpool, but he has been his # 1 fan for the last 25 years. I think secretly Rob Liefeld may actually BE Deadpool. And I sincerely hope Fox sends Rob at least a part of the profits from this movie, though I'm sure they won't for several reasons, because he has been nothing but a champion of the character since day one. Just pop onto his Instagram, website, blog, etc. for 2 minutes and you'll see that Rob is a bigger fan than all of us put together.
And rather than taking the approach that Steve Ditko did with Spider-Man and shunning his former creation, he's pushed the pile tirelessly, and been so welcoming and encouraging of everything Deadpool. Whether it's toy's, cosplay, comics, t-shirts, or anything else they slap Deadpool onto, Rob is 100% behind it. And just so we're all clear, he doesn't get some huge royalty for all of that. I'm sure Rob is taken care of in some way, but the artists/writers/creators of comics characters (until relatively recently) haven't been able to share in the large profits that their creations have produced.
To be fair, the creators knew what they were doing, theoretically they read their contracts. They should have been at least familiar with the whole Siegel & Shuster Superman situation, and nobody forced them to write or draw comics. I'm just saying that Rob doesn't make a cut on everything "DP" to illustrate that I don't think Rob has dollar signs in his eyes every time he promotes Deadpool. I think Rob promotes Deadpool tirelessly because of his genuine love of the character. And that love has carried the character through to where we are now.
Maybe Rob just loves Deadpool so much because he can't believe it was ever published, and was consequently a hit. I mean come on, did they not have copyright laws in 1991? Or did DC just owe Marvel a big favor? As an admitted lover of the Teen Titans, Rob just took one of his favorite characters, Deathstroke, and changed a few letters here, and colors there, and PHOOM! You have a Deadpool. Wade Wilson, Slade Wilson, both are Mercenaries, both character's weaponry is essentially identical, Deadpool is so obviously a blatant rip off of Deathstroke in every way but one. His wit, and for that you have to give a ton of credit to everyone that's written Deadpool since his introduction in 1991. Whether it's co-creator Fabian Nicieza, or later series writers like Joe Kelly, Gail Simone, Daniel Way, or more recently, Brian Posehn, they all played a huge role in pushing Deadpool into our hearts & living rooms.
For me, my first introduction to Deadpool was Marvel's Ultimate Alliance video game in 2006. I know... I own a comic book store and have to say with much embarrassment that I didn't even know about Deadpool until 15 years after his creation. And although I owe everyone some type of penance for that mistake, I think that just goes to show you that this character wasn't an overnight success. He was a "cult" star. Much like comics themselves were until the early 1990's. Where if you were someone that read comics, and you met another like you, there was some type of unspoken instant bond that was formed as you both identified as the kids that were probably made fun of because of your interest in comics.
And therein lies my greatest appreciation for the character. In a time when everything was utterly and totally commercialized, and every other issue was branded a "collector's item", Deadpool lived and survived in the shadows. He wasn't churning out 1 Million copy print runs. He didn't have a "Eagle Award Winning" super-star creative team. He stayed in the background, enjoyed by the "real" fans. Deadpool # 1's weren't bought up by speculators, stored in boxes and never opened. They were read, people actually enjoyed them. They were funny, and within all of the craziness that is a Deadpool comic, they actually had something that was lacking in the comics market at the time, substance.
You see, you can fool people for a little while, but something real tends to stick around. And in an age that created 5 covers to a second volume of X-Men, that killed off Superman (only to bring him back a few months later), and sold the American public on the idea that these comics were going to put their kids through college, Deadpool remains as the single greatest creation by comics in the 1990's. I honestly don't even think there's a close 2nd.
Sure Preacher, Spawn, and Hellboy all came out in the 90's. Gambit, Bishop, & Cable were even added to the X-Universe in the "dark decade". But none of those characters have the amount of fans that Deadpool does. Wonder if I'm right? Go to any convention and total up the Preacher, Spawn, and Hellboy cosplayers. There's no way that they even come close to the amount of Deadpool variations you'll see walking around. Shoot, at the Dragon Con parade that's held every year here in Atlanta, Deadpool has it's own troop that is in the parade. And I must say, you haven't truly lived until you've seen 100 dudes and ladies dressed up like Deadpool walking together through downtown Atlanta.
Which brings me to my last point. Deadpool is FUN. He's fun! He's quick, he's well written, he's self aware, and he doesn't take himself too seriously. He is incredibly refreshing. So as we wind down to the end of the several year wait to see Wade on the big screen (Wolverine Origins doesn't count, right?), remember what this is all supposed to be about, FUN! And enjoy the movie everyone! I know I will.
Until next time, keep your wit's as sharp as your swords, and enjoy this fun montage of great Deadpool issues we've had over the years.