With the Deadpool movie about to hit creator Rob Liefeld tells Stephen Jewell about the Merc With A Mouth’s early days
“This film is going to be the definitive Deadpool experience”
Everything has been building towards this movie!”
According to Rob Liefeld, who first introduced Deadpool to an unsuspecting audience in New Mutants #98, the Merc With A Mouth has always been “ridiculously popular”. Released at the height of the ’90s comic book boom, his subsequent appearance in X-Force #1 sold a staggering four million copies.
Among the most cosplayed characters at comic conventions, he has since maintained his high profile through significant appearances in videogames like Marvel Vs Capcom and the Marvel Lego range, not to mention fanfavourite runs on his monthly comics by creators such as Joe Kelly, Ed McGuinness, Christopher Priest and Cullen Bunn. Now exactly 25 years later he’s set to explode onto the big screen in his first solo film.
“This wasn’t planned but he debuted in February 1991 and now the Deadpool movie is coming out in February 2016, so the film will hit on his 25th anniversary,” says Liefeld. “When I first told Ryan Reynolds about that, he was like ‘wow, that’s cool!’”
Sometimes you just go ‘that character is cool!’
Having cut his teeth on DC’s Hawk and Dove, Liefeld took over as regular penciller on New Mutants with #86 in early 1990. Handed full creative control with #98, he brought in Fabian Nicieza as co-writer who would later play a crucial role in Deadpool’s development. “Fabian is great with dialogue, and the voice that he gave Deadpool really stuck, as he was such a great wise-ass,” recalls Liefeld, who wanted Deadpool to emulate Marvel’s most natural-born joker. “When I first pitched the character to Marvel, it was ‘Spider-Man with guns and swords.’”
However, Liefeld is quick to dismiss the suggestion that Deadpool owes anything to DC supervillain Deathstroke. “You know what, buddy? We haven’t heard that before,” he laughs, insisting that Deadpool’s real name Wade Wilson was not a nod to Deathstroke’s alter ego, Slade Wilson. “Deadpool doesn’t move like Deathstroke, and I always tell people to go back and look at X-Force #2 with the first whole pages of Deadpool. He’s doing flying kicks and moving like a ninja – he’s moving like Spider-Man! Deathstroke is a lumbering guy in chain-mail and buccaneer boots and gloves, who is blue and orange, so how do you get from that to Deadpool’s blue and red?”
Having first seen Star Wars in 1977 when he was nine years old, another of Liefeld’s inspirations came from a galaxy far, far away. “One of the closest things to Deadpool in terms of a pop culture icon is Boba Fett,” says Liefeld, who sent away for an action figure of the bounty hunter before eventually catching his cameo in The Empire Strikes Back.
“He had about two lines and was all mysterious, but he didn’t do much. Then in Return Of The Jedi, he gets elbowed off the sandbarge and falls into the Sarlacc Pit. I was like, ‘Wait! The greatest character of all time just went out like that?’ But it didn’t diminish my love for Boba Fett and now 30 years later they’re making a solo movie with him. He was a character that didn’t live up to the idea of Boba Fett and yet he still endures, and I believe Deadpool through all of his variations has continued to endure because sometimes you just go ‘that character is cool!’”
Although he left Marvel in 1992 to co-found Image Comics, Deadpool remains close to Liefeld’s heart. And having worked closely with director Tim Miller and screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, he believes that the movie could be Deadpool’s crowning achievement in any medium. “This movie will be the Deadpool that defines Deadpool,” he says. “It’s not by design but he’s mostly been on these kind of wacky adventures, so there is no one great Deadpool storyline. He doesn’t have a Days Of Future Past, a Korvac Saga or Extinction Agenda, so this film is going to be the definitive Deadpool experience, mark my words! It will be the one where people go ‘This is the Deadpool I love the most!’”
The Deadpool movie is released on 10 February. Look out for more coverage next issue.
The New Mutants #98 – the first appearance of Deadpool.
Deadpool is a wisecracking “Spider-Man with guns and swords”.
Well, there’s a reason he’s called the Merc With A Mouth.
The Deadpool Corps included KidPool and Lady Deadpool.
Deadpool’s move to X-Force saw millions of copies sold.