The insane history of Deadpool

Deadpool. Everybody loves him! And with good reason. As a character, he's irreverent and unpredictable. He tends to shake things up in both comics and movies, asking the real questions that fans have always wondered about. Deadpool wasn't always the butt-whomping, fast-talking, immortal mercenary that he is today. Read below for a history of Deadpool's weirdest moments in comics, movies, and video games. 

Stroke of genius

To be clear up front: Deadpool is pretty much an unoriginal character. Writer Fabian Nicieza was trying to cobble together a coherent script for Marvel's New Mutants based on artist Rob Liefeld's plots and characters, when he noticed that Liefeld basically copied the DC Comics' character Deathstroke. Like Deathstroke, Liefeld's Deadpool was also a super-agile mercenary, and the two were visually similar enough to make the weird copy unmistakable. Bringing the ouroboros of unoriginality full-circle, Nicieza gave Deadpool the real name of Wade Wilson, in reference to Deathstroke's real name, Slade Wilson.

Cable subscription

Deadpool first appeared in 1991, in New Mutants #98, where he was written as a mercenary who came out of nowhere to attack the hero known as Cable. Don't know who Cable is? A co-creation of Liefeld and writer Louise Simonson, Cable is the son of Cyclops and a clone of Jean Grey. And he's from the future!

Cable made every X-Men comic infinitely more complicated by introducing time travel and alternate timelines. But despite the fact that the two don't actually have much in common, Deadpool and Cable have been linked in the comics ever since.

Merc with a mouth

Eventually, Deadpool outgrew his traditional villainous roots and became a fan favorite. That's thanks in large part to what's now known as his signature schtick: breaking the fourth wall and addressing readers directly. The in-story explanation is that Deadpool is just nuts, so of course he thinks he's a fictional character. But fans can't help but love a hyper-violent anti-hero who has just as much to say about the state of superheroes as they do.

Ultimate Deadpool

Mainstream Marvel's Deadpool is the guy that everyone knows and loves, but Marvel's handling of the character across different universes and media has often been kind of…terrible. In an attempt to return Deadpool to his villainous origins, the Ultimate Marvel line of comics saw a Deadpool who was an insane cyborg war veteran with no skin and clear helmet to keep his brains from falling out, hell-bent on destroying all mutants. Not only was Ultimate Deadpool hunting mutants for a TV show, but he was also a shapeshifter. Because it's surprisingly easy to write stupid comics.

Fortunately for all comic book fans, the real Deadpool eventually stuck a sword right into that crappy one.

Agent X

For a little while in the early 2000s, Marvel convinced comic readers that they'd killed off Deadpool and brought him back as a new character called Agent X. Why? Because Deadpool's sales numbers were flagging, and dropping an X into a Marvel title has always been a cash machine. It wasn't enough to save Deadpool, and it was also just enough to frustrate dedicated Deadpool fans into dropping the book entirely. Even writer Gail Simone was frustrated with Marvel's editors, and abandoned the book after less than a year, leaving other writers to reveal that Agent X wasn't Deadpool after all, but some weird psychic mash-up of other characters. Fortunately, Deadpool's return to the spotlight has been pretty successful after that.

Speechless

It's really hard to forget that Deadpool's first big-screen appearance was a tragedy. In 2009's X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Ryan Reynolds plays a sexy ninja version of the character, capable of deflecting machine gun fire with his swords. But wait—it gets worse. In the course of the film, he dies and is reassembled into a jambalaya of a guy with other mutant powers and no mouth. Yes, the Merc with a Mouth didn't have a mouth. Needless to say, fans weren't pleased.

Deadpool: The Video Game

X-Men: Origins' Deadpool left such a bad taste in viewers mouths that gamers flocked to 2013's Deadpool video game, which was far truer to the character's form. Making repeated references to the game's budget and script, Deadpool breaks the fourth wall and does enough ridiculous stuff for it to feel like a legitimate entry into Deadpool canon. Unfortunately, critics gave the game a lukewarm reception. Even still, for lots of fans, it was one step closer to a true Deadpool movie…the one everyone had been waiting for.

Reynolds' redemption

As unhappy as Deadpool's appearance in X-Men: Origins made the fans, no one was more disappointed than Ryan Reynolds himself. In the years that followed, Reynolds became something of a champion for the long-delayed spin-off movie starring the character. In 2012, 20th Century Fox commissioned CGI test-footage from visual effects artist Tim Miller. The result was a two-minute scene starring Reynolds, who provided the voice for an over-the-top, crazy-violent Deadpool doing what he does best: cracking jokes and skulls in equal measure.

Still, Fox's executives sat on the footage for two years…until it was somehow leaked onto the Internet in 2014. Fans went wild, the film was greenlit, and in 2016, Deadpool broke weekend box office records for an R-rated movie, earning $135 million in just three days.