Deadpool is the first Fox superhero movie that actually felt like a Marvel movie – and a damn good one! But how much was comic-based, and how much was movie-original? There be SPOILERS here!
From hilariously on-point opening sequence to nostalgia-inducing after-credits stinger, this was an amazing Deadpool film – all the more amazing as this movie was never supposed to get made. This isn’t really a review though, this is a look into all of the little connections Deadpool made to the original comics.
Let’s dig-in after a spoiler-light recap: Deadpool was Wade Wilson, a good-hearted bad guy with cancer, then he got powers at the cost of his ability to blend in at a sorority party. Now he’s looking for the people who did that to him!
Connecting Comics Universe to Cinematic Universe
Right off the bat, during that amazing slow-motion intro sequence, we see a coffee cup for “Rob L.,” and a few scenes later Deadpool blurts out, “F%&$ Liefeld.” Deadpool was, of course, created by artist Rob Liefeld and writer Fabian Nicieza, though Rob stirred up some controversy recently when he seemingly said the writer had almost nothing to do with Deadpool’s success (Fabian tweeted back that it was no big thing, and he knew what Rob really meant). It’s generally agreed that despite his similarity to a certain DC character, Rob drew Deadpool as a cross between Spider-Man and Boba Fett. Fabian wrote Deadpool to be irreverent, and later writers ran with that, with writers like Joe Kelly and Christopher Priest ultimately cementing the whole fourth-wall breaking.
Speaking of which, for the uninitiated, “breaking the fourth wall” refers to the imaginary wall that separates the actors from the audience – the actors should not acknowledge the audience, but for Deadpool, this rule is more of a suggestion.
On that note, we meet our budget-approved X-Men guest stars, including fresh face Negasonic Teenage Warhead. As Deadpool acknowledges, she has possibly the greatest superhero name ever (and a very Grant Morrison-sounding name at that, for good reason), but in the comics she lived only a few panels before getting killed along with millions of other mutants, and she didn’t have cool blowing-up-things powers. In true Marvel tradition, however, she was eventually brought back to life, albeit briefly.
Her powers in the film seem more akin to Cannonball, the New Mutant (and later Avenger) who creates an impenetrable blast field around his body that can propel himself or other objects at incredible speed.
NTW’s mentor is Colossus, and this is the Colossus. Unlike the random teenager who could turn into metal in X2, this guy looks, talks, and acts exactly like Colossus in the comics, down to his over-the-top sentimentality, goofy sense of fair play, and willingness to give anyone another chance. It’s honestly amazing to see a comic book character this earnestly realized in the X-Men franchise universe. For the record, despite his impressive bulk and the fact that he was a proud supporter of the Soviet Union when the Cold War was still (in)active, Colossus is a pacifist. He’d rather spend his time painting than fighting.
There’s an off-hand comment about the X-Mansion blowing up a bunch, and while that hasn’t happened a lot in the movies, it’s certainly a thing in the comics. Good news though: “House blowing up builds character.”
In the street fight, Deadpool holds a guy up in the air on his swords for a good long while. Seems reminiscent of the memorable Adam Kubert cover to Wolverine #88. Not exact, but close enough. Wolverine later returned the favor for Wade.
There’s also this whole scene with a pizza delivery boy that’s almost shot-for-shot from the comics. He totally goes after Gavin in the name of Tonya Peterson – but things don’t go as well for Gavin the comics.
Wade hangs out at a bar for ne’er-do-wells rather ironically called Sister Margaret’s School for Wayward Girls, and in the comics, the Chicago-based Sister Margaret’s for Wayward Children is better known as Hellhouse, and exists as a flophouse for mercenaries run by a guy named Patch (who doesn’t have an eye patch, interestingly). Deadpool frequents the place when looking for work, though often bumps into some enemies while he’s there.
Next we’re introduced to Weasel, Deadpool’s right-hand man. While a lot of the characters in this film are near one-to-one translations of their comic counterparts (like Colossus), or such minor characters nobody would notice (like NTW), Weasel is nothing like his literary progenitor.
In the comics, Weasel (real name Jack Hammer – yes, that is his name) is a supergenius but a loser, and it was eventually revealed that Weasel was a classmate of Peter Parker’s, and was on track to becoming the next Tony Stark if he played his cards right, but Deadpool timetraveled to the past, convinced Weasel not to attend a meeting that was going to be his big break, then introduced him to the hard-partying lifestyle. After that, Weasel lived an unimportant life, making him available whenever Deadpool needs equipment. With friends like these, eh?
Then we meet Vanessa, Deadpool’s great lady love. She’s introduced as a hooker with a heart of gold, much like the comic book version of her, but…
… in the comics, Vanessa is also a mutant and mercenary. She has the rather useful ability of transforming into anyone, but unlike Mystique she cannot recreate clothing, just bodies. As Copycat, her transformations take place slowly over hours or days, and once she’s in a new form, she can maintain it for years at a time, even sharing the brain patterns of those she copies. She eventually leaves Deadpool, and has a dear friend of hers murdered by Deadpool’s sometime partner Sluggo, then hooks up with another mercenary, Cable’s mentee Garrison Kane. Interestingly enough, Sluggo and Kane were originally in this film. Budget cuts, obviously. It’s not like this movie could make any money, emmeyerite?
Throughout the movie, Wade can be seen wearing a Bea Arthur shirt. This is no random happenstance. A running gag throughout Deadpool comics since the mid-90s is that Deadpool obsessively lusts over the Golden Girls, and especially Bea Arthur. It’s a shame Bea wasn’t able to see the film about her biggest fan, but her co-worker Betty White apparently did!
There’s a lot of 80s references in this movie, which may fly over the heads of younger fans (but may not). For example, Wade says Vanessa is so perfect, it’s like he made her in a computer (Weird Science), and he plans to confess his love by holding a boombox outside her window (Say Anything). The more you know.
In the film, Deadpool claims to be from Regina, Saskatchewan. That makes as much sense as anything else, but in the comics, all people can say for sure is that he’s Canadian. In fact, “Wade Wilson” probably isn’t even his real name! Apparently Deadpool was crazy long before he got powers, and at some point the mercenary broke into the happy home of Wade and Mercedes Wilson and murdered them before taking the identity of “Wade.” Both the “original” Wade and Mercedes came back to life with superpowers (and Mercedes even prefers Deadpool over the man who claims to be the real Wade), but questions have been raised repeatedly as to whether any of that was true. Also, Deadpool probably killed his own parents (his actual parents, whatever their names were) while under the influence of the people who gave him powers. Fun!
Ooh! Speaking of origins, when Wade gets his new disfigured face, it’s said he was bitten by a radioactive shar-pei. First, “bitten by a radioactive _______” comes from Spider-Man’s original origin (radiation is great, people!). Second, did you know the flabby and chubby-looking shar-peis are an American invention? In their homeland of China, the bone mouth shar-peis are tough-looking fighters. Third, for all the jokes about Deadpool’s face, it doesn’t look that bad in the movie. In the comics it is constantly shifting, tearing itself apart, and putting itself back together again, as his healing factor is always working overtime. Guess the budget couldn’t afford it.
When bleeding profusely, Deadpool calls out, “Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret.” That’s the title of a famous Judy Bloom book that helped young ladies learn about, um, becoming young ladies.
After being diagnosed with the Big C, Wade heads off to The Workshop, a private business that secretly pumps out supersoldiers. In the comics, the Workshop was an off-shoot of the Weapon X program that was at one point a government program (an earlier version of the same program created Captain America!). The scientist who saved (and cursed) Deadpool was Dr. Killbrew, though he’s not in this film. Instead of Killbrew, we get Ajax, aka Francis, who in the comics was part of Killbrew’s crew, and while Killbrew was a horrible doctor, Francis was a sadistic ass. Even in the midst of experimentation, Wade talked back to Francis, and years later, Ajax and Deadpool would still be seeking revenge on each other.
During the experiments, Wade also meets a man named Cunningham who isn’t long for this world. In the comics, the cyborg “Worm” Cunningham was another of Killbrew’s failed experiments, killed by Francis just to spite Wade.
Francis’ sidekick, the match-stick obsessed Angel Dust, is a powerful bruiser with (almost) no sense of humor. In the comics, Angel Dust has slightly more appearances than NTW, and just as much connection to Deadpool. Before describing her, we first have to look at who the Morlocks were. They were mutants whose powers made them too ugly or too unpleasant for the rest of human society, and unlike Nightcrawler or other lucky few who were found by the X-Men, they had no one else to turn to, so they created their own community in the sewers of New York. After a few different crazy megalomaniacs killed or dispersed the vast majority of them, a few groups gathered in other places. Angel Dust was in a group of freedom-fighting Morlocks in Chicago.
At the lab, Wade notices a girl with bones coming out of her back – seems like Marrow. She was another Morlock survivor who flat out killed a lot of people, but the X-Men let Marrow become a member of the team. Ain’t they a forgiving bunch? In recent comics, she lost her powers and has been turning to less-than-savory people to get them back (maybe that’s why she’s in the Workshop?).
Next we have Blind Al. We don’t learn much about her relationship to Wade in the movie, except that after meeting her in a laundromat, she becomes his roommate and never leaves the apartment again. Seems about fair. In the comics, Althea had been living with Deadpool for who knows how many years before Weasel (and the readers) learned she wasn’t so much a house guest, as his prisoner. Turns out, Al was a fighter back in the day (supposedly even hooking up with Captain America in the 40s), and eventually turned terrorist. Deadpool was hired to take her out, but instead spared her. To keep her safe from those who would kill her (and to remind her that he was supposed to do it himself), he would periodically put her through mental (and physical) torture. Again, Deadpool is quite a guy.
Can I also point out that, even as Vanessa is a hooker/stripper, she’s not overly sexualized, and other female characters, like Angel Dust, Negasonic Teenage Warhead, and Blind Al, are not sexualized at all (beyond a brief lampshading of the trope with Angel Dust)? Could Deadpool be a feminist movie? Sure, why not!
To escape from Colossus, Deadpool gnaws off his own hand, then is forced wait for his new gross tiny baby hand to grow. Through most of his career, Deadpool’s healing factor has been pretty damn impressive. If you cut off a limb, a new limb will take its place in hours (though there was a brief time in the 90s when he had to wait weeks for his favorite finger to regrow). Rather than wait for the tiny limbs to match their proper size (something Savage Dragon deals with a lot), Deadpool will usually try to stick the limbs back on, letting them heal in place.
After Francis kidnaps Vanessa, Deadpool, Colossus and NTW track the bag guys down to what sure as hell looks like a downed SHIELD Hellicarrier! This is significant because Deadpool is a Fox-produced movie, and Agents of SHIELD is a Marvel/Disney-produced franchise, and the two studios don’t exactly see eye-to-eye. As this movie feels so much like a Marvel movie (and as the other X-Men and Fantastic Four movies seem to be in their own universes), it’s fun to imagine this is one of the Hellicarriers brought down after Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but in the comics, Hellicarriers crash all the freakin’ time.
While there, Deadpool fights Bob the henchman! Technically, he’s supposed to be Bob, Agent of Hydra, but as stated, Hydra (like SHIELD) are Disney/Marvel mainstays. In the comics, Bob is an idiot henchman who tends to get involved in more messes than he can get himself out of (usually because his friend is Deadpool), and Deadpool willingly beats him up whenever possible, all in the name of good fun. Interestingly, when some idiot Hydra agents showed up at the tail end of the first Agents of SHIELD season, many fans were hoping at least one would be named Bob.
During the final fight, Deadpool has a major head injury that affects the way he sees the world – again, this is a common motif in the comics, and one of many reasons given for Deadpool’s occasional memory problems.
After all’s said and done, there’s a great post-credits stinger in which Deadpool, wearing a bathrobe, tells the audience to go home. For those too young to remember (or unlucky enough not to have seen it), that’s the post-credits stinger of the equally fourth-wall breaking film, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Seek that movie out!
Deadpool does promise that the sequel will have Cable. Deadpool first appeared battling Cable, and over the years the Merc with a Mouth has been both friend and foe to the mutant messiah. While Cable usually looks like the reject from an 80s action sci-fi film, it’s probably easiest to think of him as a cross between Jesus and the Terminator. He’s a time-traveling mutant telepath cyborg chosen one religious leader mercenary superhero. In the world of the Marvel Universe, he was technically born a few years ago to Cyclops and Jean Grey’s clone (long story), but he was infected with a techno-virus (long story), sent to the far future (long story), joined and founded his own religion (long story), traveled to the ancient past to fight Apocalypse (long story), found another modern day mutant messiah (long story), raised her in an alternate reality’s far future (long story), brought her back as a teenager while he lost half his body (long story), and now he’s an Avenger alongside Deadpool (um… yeah)!
Hopefully, the movie producers will base their version of Cable on the version from Soldier X, that comic had, by far, the best take on him.
Okay, what am I forgetting…?
Deadpool likes chimichangas.