Welcome to the five hundred and sixty-second in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the first five hundred (I actually haven’t been able to update it in a while). This week, we have a very special edition of CBLR. You’ll notice it as we go along. Anyhow, this week we ask – was Deadpool based on Deathstroke the Terminator? Did Mark Waid try to get out of writing the second Deadpool mini-series after learning who Deadpool was? And does Alan Moore really not like any adaptations of his work?
NOTE: The column is on three pages, a page for each legend. There’s a little “next” button on the top of the page and the bottom of the page to take you to the next page (and you can navigate between each page by just clicking on the little 1, 2 and 3 on the top and the bottom, as well).
COMIC LEGEND: Deadpool was based on Deathstroke the Terminator.
STATUS: I’m Going With False
A common refrain from fans over the years about Deadpool is that he seems influenced by Marv Wolfman and George Perez’s Deathstroke the Terminator. Even George Perez got into the act a few years back when a fan commissioned a mash-up of the two…
Liefeld has responded to claims about the similarities by stating:
“Any belief that they are connected beyond a name is foolish and short sighted. And funny. One is a middle aged war veteran who took part in a super soldier program. The other is horribly disfigured and sought a cure to his cancer by submitting to Weapon X.”
While those don’t actually sound all that different, I am more inclined to believe Liefeld only because he has always been VERY open about what WERE his influences in creating Deadpool.
In an old Comic Book Legends Revealed, I wrote about how Liefeld was influenced by wanting to draw a character like Spider-Man.
And in many other interviews, Liefeld has talked about how he based Deadpool’s healing abilities and the mystery surrounding the character on Wolverine (even going so far as having Deadpool ALSO come out of the Weapon X project) and how he based the idea of a mercenary showing up to take down Cable on Boba Fett from The Empire Strikes Back.
“I want Deadpool to matter. I have given him this role as a mercenary, as a bounty hunter. He’s collecting a contract on Cable — he’s very much a Boba Fett. He’s been hired by Jabba the Hutt, and Cable is the Han Solo.”
Liefeld wears his influences so proudly on his sleeves that I tend to believe him when he says that he WASN’T thinking Deathstroke. What does he possibly gain by saying, “Yeah, I based him on Spider-Man, Wolverine and Boba Fett, oh and the title of a Dirty Harry movie…but definitely not on Deathstroke! THAT would be too much.”
The connection to Deathstroke, I believe, has mostly been fostered by the fact that Deadpool is named Wade Wilson and Deathstroke is Slade Wilson…
However, Deadpool didn’t get the name Wade until X-Force #11, when Liefeld was almost entirely off of the title…
And the Wilson part didn’t come until Deadpool’s first mini-series by Fabian Nicieza and Joe Madureira….
So it was Nicieza who decided to make an in-joke about the similarities.
Here’s Nicieza on Deadpool’s creation:
Stage One: Rob grew up loving Marv and George’s Teen Titans so when he wanted to develop a kick-ass, lethal mercenary, he came up with the name Deadpool and a costume that was part Spider-Man, part Deathstroke. I received the pages to script with very little background on the character. Rob’s intentions were for Gideon and Domino, also being introduced that issue, to become “center-stage” characters. In some ways, Deadpool was little more than cannon fodder to bring some action into the story.
Stage Two: the scripting. I immediately recognized the undertones of Deathstroke in Deadpool’s look, mostly because I knew how Rob was thinking. But because I already had various character voices for that issue who were serious and grim, I decided to go in the opposite direction of the audience’s expectations and give Deadpool a sarcastic attitude, and though still deadly, not taking things so seriously. I gave him the name Wade Wilson as an absolute in-joke between Rob and myself, since Deathstroke’s name was Slade Wilson. We never revealed the joke for 20 YEARS, so you can hardly say his intent was to parody Deathstroke, nor can you even remotely claim that from his very first appearance, the two characters had many similarities whatsoever outside of being physically capable mercenaries. Deadpool’s Weapon X background, his cancer cure resulting in his fluctuating skin condition and his rapidly regenerating brain cells causing his insanity are all substantive character aspects of Deadpool himself, which have nothing to do with Deathstroke. He is his own character, has been from his first appearance and deserves the popularity he now claims because he is an interesting character in his own right and much more interesting, I’d say, than Deathstroke ever was, or, outside of his brief “invincible stage” when Brad Meltzer wrote him, ever became.
Again, the connection was made by Nicieza, but not based on anything Liefeld actually said to him. The similarities are certainly there, but Liefeld’s initial explanation for the design of the character ALSO make sense, and I think they make enough sense that I’m willing to go with him on this one.
Thanks to the half dozen or so people who have written in to ask me about this one over the years. And thanks to Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza for the information!
Check out some recent entertainment and sports legends from Legends Revealed:
Was a Film’s Ending Re-Shot Because Test Audiences Couldn’t Believe Bill Murray Could Beat Up Robert DeNiro?
Was Treehouse of Horror V Intentionally Extra Violent Over Complaints About the Series’ Use of Violence?
Did a Hall of Famer Really Leave a Letter to be Opened After His Death Revealing Whether He ACTUALLY Made a Famous Catch?
On the next page, did Mark Waid try to back out of writing a Deadpool mini-series after finding out who Deadpool was?
COMIC LEGEND: Mark Waid tried to quit writing the second Deadpool mini-series after finding out who Deadpool was.
Mark Waid wrote Deadpool’s second mini-series. He did a great job and the series established Deadpool’s connection to Siryn and really softened the character a lot. Joe Kelly followed a lot of Waid’s lead when it came to Deadpool’s ongoing series.
Well, reader Jamil had an interesting question about the series:
Is it true that Waid took the Deadpool: Sins of the Past assignment without really knowing much about the character and then tried to get out of it once he realized how flippant the character was? You touched on how that series was the start of legitimacy for DP and I was wondering if that was Waid trying to make sense of a character that was pretty gimmicky up until that point.
I asked Mark about it, and he filled me in…
The Deadpool mini was my first Marvel work, if I recall correctly. And at that early stage, no one really knew much about Deadpool. But I never tried to get out of it, no. I just decided to lean into the flippancy and really expand it so he had a madcap voice all his own. In my mind, in that mini, Deadpool was Bugs Bunny, Juggernaut was Yosemite Sam, and Black Tom was Elmer Fudd. Beyond that, I took my usual approach–I thought long and hard about what it would be like to be Deadpool, to have to live with that kind of scarring. And I picked the action scenes specifically to play up Deadpool’s almost cartoonish healing abilities, which is why one of the story’s set pieces is set in a knife factory.
Thanks, Mark! And thanks to Jamil for the suggestion!
Check out my latest Movie Legends Revealed at Spinoff Online: Was Vicki Vale originally going to die in Tim Burton’s Batman?
On the next page, has Alan Moore never publicly stated that he liked an adaptation of one of his comics?
Last week, one of the legends was about whether Alan Moore liked the Justice League Unlimited adaptation of “For the Man Who Has Everything.” And part of that legend is the idea that it was the ONLY adaptation of his work that he liked. Since we showed that he DIDN’T say anything about that one, it opened up the question, then, has he just NEVER liked any adaptation of his work?
Well, readers Allyn Gibson and Rob Hansen both pointed out that Moore IS on the record as liking at least ONE adaptation of his work, a 2006 animated adaptation…
of his Doctor Who Weekly back-up story (with David Lloyd), Black Legacy…
First, let me say how much I enjoyed Black Legacy. It is not only the first screen adaptation of my work that I’ve actually watched more that the first five minutes of before being overcome with rage and disgust, it is the only screen adaptation of my work that I’ve enjoyed from start to finish and can say I thoroughly approve of. This is clearly a work that is born out of nothing save for a simple love of the material. It has not opted to change elements of the story, give it a less bleak ending or introduce a love interest and cute pet dog for the chief Cyberman protagonist. You have simply adapted the story as faithfully as you were able, without feeling the need to ‘improve’ it, and the very fact that this approach is almost unique in my experience speaks volumes for the state of contemporary culture.
I can’t actually remember whether Black Legacy was my first written or first published story as a comic writer, but it was certainly one of the first two stories that I did. It was the first time I’d worked with David Lloyd and the first time I’d tried to add specific atmospherics to a story that weren’t an essential part of the plot… the inclusion of artist Franz Kupka’s Black Colossus, for example, which I should point out was a good ten years before Francis Ford Coppola made it the centrepiece of his adaptation of Stoker’s Dracula. I should probably also point out that when I named the planet of the Deathsmiths ‘Goth’, this was some few years before an eponymous youth cult would arise that chose to dress and deport themselves pretty much like the Deathsmiths’ ultimate weapon does in this clearly influential story. Coincidence? I think not.
So, bravo for a splendid job, and my congratulations to everyone involved with the project. The music, animation and voice acting were all perfectly in service to the narrative and conveyed the atmosphere of doom and corruption every bit as well as (if not much, much better than) my original fledgling story, written before I had much of a grasp on my craft and was simply trying to learn the ropes and live up to all the excellent Abslom Daak and Star Tigers material than Steve had already made his mark with in the Dr. Who Weekly back-up slot. It does my heart good to know that there are film makers and enthusiasts out there who clearly have a passion for these fondly remembered old yarns and are trying to do their best by them without regard for profit or personal glory. You are an example to your times and to your chosen field of interest, and I salute you.
Yours, a very impressed and grateful Alan Moore.
So there you have that! By the way, since it came out AFTER the JLU episode, it sort of suggests he wasn’t a fan of the JLU one, no?
Thanks to Allyn and Rob for the information! And thanks to Alan Moore for the quote!