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?
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