The old showbiz adage, “Dying is easy, comedy is hard” certainly doesn’t apply to Marvel Comics’ Wade Wilson, aka Deadpool. With a healing factor that allows him to recover from almost any injury and makes him nearly impossible to kill and an unstoppable tendency to run his mouth and entertain readers with all sorts of bizarre and comical anecdotes, jokes and insults, the inverse would actually be more accurate.
A highly-trained soldier for hire, Wade Wilson’s chosen profession and penchant for chattiness has earned him the nickname “The Merc with a Mouth.” But while Deadpool often has to kill people, it’s not something he enjoys or relishes; it’s just an unavoidable part of his job.
But what would happen if Deadpool was a bloodthirsty killer, and what would the Marvel Universe look like if he cut a bloody swath through it? This summer, writer Cullen Bunn and artist Dalibor Talajic will answer those questions and more in “Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe,” a four-issue miniseries that will be published weekly throughout the month of August. We spoke with Bunn and his editor Jordan D. White about the project, which examines what would happen if Deadpool were a vicious serial killer stalking the heroes and villains of the Marvel Universe.
CBR News: Deadpool is about to join Fred Hembeck and the Punisher as a member of a very exclusive club; people who have laid waste to the Marvel Universe! Where did the idea for this project come from?
Jordan D. White: The idea came down from on high as nothing but a title. Clearly inspired by the terrific Punisher one-shot of the same name, I was charged with conjuring up a miniseries called “Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe.” I really love editing the Deadpool books — he’s been a favorite character of mine for quite a while — and as soon as I heard the title, I knew it was an opportunity to do something special, something you can’t do in the main book. Deadpool is a really funny character, and his books are always comedic — but this would give us the chance to take the humor to a much darker place. I’m thankful that as soon as I said that to Cullen, he knew exactly what I meant and came back with ideas that fit it perfectly.
Cullen Bunn: As soon as Jordan mentioned this project to me, I knew this would be my chance to present a version of Deadpool unlike anything fans have seen before. He’s still Deadpool. He’s still funny. But he’s being seen through a dark, unsettling filter.
White: In many ways, it’s about giving the fans what they want. It’s called “Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe” and we absolutely deliver on the promise of that title. If you think that idea sounds interesting or intriguing at all, this series is made expressly for you.
Bunn: Yeah, I don’t think there’s any subterfuge in the title. This is Deadpool murdering the heroes and villains of the Marvel Universe we know and love. On another level, though, it’s kind of a tragic story about being the puppet of greater forces — and how far one might go to be free of all that.
Deadpool’s motivation is often “cherchez la femme” or “Look for the Women.” We know Deadpool is in love with the Marvel U’s personification of Death. Is this his way of getting her attention?
White: Nah — we kept clear of the typical Deadpool tropes, for the most part, in order to see him in a new light. Cullen came up with a great way to set him off on his spree.
Bunn: His motivations aren’t connected to many of the story elements you might have seen in other books. This kind of tale gives us the chance to do some things we couldn’t even think about in the core Deadpool book. But I wanted a catalyst for Deadpool’s killing spree that could happen in the main book.
At the beginning of this story, we’re dealing with “our” Deadpool. His perceptions have always been a little off-center, but now his world view is crashing down around him. When the switch gets flipped (so to speak), Deadpool takes a very dark turn. From that point, he’s got a very specific goal in mind, and he’s not going to stop for anything or anyone.
Deadpool regularly dishes out violence and carnage, but not in an evil or malicious fashion. Does that change in “Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe?” Will it be harder to look at what Wade Wilson does and chuckle?
Bunn: I think Deadpool probably sees himself as the hero in this story, but he’s not. After the first few pages of the book, I don’t think anyone will see him as a good guy.
White: One of the things I was most keen on was the idea that we take all the recognizable trademarks of Deadpool that people think are cute/eccentric/charming and make them disturbing. That we take a character people dismiss as a goof and show that as sort of a cover for the fact that he is dangerous and sort of frightening.
Bunn: There is a character that plays the role of the “hero” in that he’s trying to stop Deadpool. He’s a character who has some history with Deadpool. He’s not a nice guy, either, but even he is shocked by the carnage Deadpool is wreaking.
How high up the Marvel Universe food chain will Deadpool’s bloody crusade go? And Cullen, What’s it like pitting Deadpool against everybody? How big of an asset is his insane cunning and penchant for Rube Goldberg-esque plans in this story?
White: He just kills one dude. Just Stilt Man.
Bunn: Well, there goes my pitch for a follow-up: “Stilt Man Stomps the Marvel Universe.”
White: That counts as the entire Marvel Universe, right? No — he takes it as far as you possibly can. Further, actually.
Bunn: Much further! I think folks will dig seeing just how high up the food chain Deadpool slices and dices. In some cases, he keeps the kills pretty simple. But for some of the heavy hitters, he has to get creative. The thing about Deadpool (especially this Deadpool) is that he sees things differently. It helps make him a more effective killer. He relies on everything from straight forward gun and swordplay to elaborate “Saw”-like deathtraps.
And no one is safe. No one.
It was an absolute thrill being able to work with all these different characters, wiping out my favorites in these terrible ways. Are there some match-ups I was really excited to write? Absolutely! What surprised me was the emotional reaction I had to some of the deaths. It was important to me that these are the characters I would never want to see die — but Deadpool’s gonna butcher them anyway — and he’s gonna have fun doing it.
What can you tell us about the supporting cast for this story? Will we see any Deadpool-related characters or friends like Bob, Agent of HYDRA or Cable?
White: Like I said, for the most part, we kept clear of the typical Deadpool folks — but you can rest assured that HYDRA Bob, Blind Al and Weasel are all killed in horrible, unspeakable ways — just off panel. Maybe if fans send in their ideas for how Deadpool should take them out, I can run the best ones in the letters page.
Bunn: Yeah, because of the book’s scope, it’s tough to give everyone panel-time. I opted to focus more on the big picture Marvel Universe characters. But I love the idea of fans sending in their ideas for how established Deadpool characters might die, except Dogpool. None of you sick freaks should even think about killing Dogpool.
Jordan, you’ve got a writer who is very adept at writing horror characters and stories and a situation that sounds pretty horrific. So is “Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe” a horror comic?
White: Hell yes, it is! I’m a big horror movie fan, and have only just recently finished re-watching all the “Friday the 13th” and “Nightmare on Elm Street” movies, and am now jumping back into the “Halloween” series. When you think about it, isn’t Wade Wilson right at home in the lineup of Jason Voorhees, Freddy Kruger and Michael Myers? He’s sort of Freddy’s corny jokes and speed in Jason’s ever-healing body, am I right?
Bunn: Exactly! When I pitched my version of Deadpool for this story, I said he was Freddy-meets-Jason-meets-Jigsaw — if those guys had ninja-like assassination skills. This is a dark story, but it’s the kind of horror story that’ll make you laugh uncomfortably at all the blood, violence and menace. I know that deep down you are a sick, sick person, and this story is for you!
Artist Dalibor Talajic, who’s drawn Deadpool many times, is bringing this scenario to life. What it’s like though seeing him work on a tale like this, one that casts Deadpool in such a different light?
White: Dalibor totally rose to the challenge of making this book feel different from his previous work on the character. He, too, was immediately on board for the tone of the book and knew just what we were going for. I think that’s part of what makes this series so great — everyone was on the same page: writer, artist, editor, cover artist (Kaare Andrews). We all got it, immediately.
Bunn: I love Dalibor’s work, so I was really excited when I heard he’d be drawing the book. I was doubly excited when I realized he was completely on-board with the concept. He brought a lot of energy to the pages, and he made some great suggestions that helped improve the book as a whole. There’s a sequence toward the end of the book that we discussed back and forth that really brought something awesome to the book. I enjoy working with an artist who wants to collaborate and talk about the story and build on the scripts. I feel like we’ve worked really well together.
Finally, the announcement of “Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe” is bound to result a variety of reactions. I imagine some Marvel fans will be excited and others a bit more unsure about the series. Do you have anything you’d like to say to the skeptics?
Bunn: I’d say the skeptics can take their preconceived notions and stick them right where —
Ahem. Sorry. Let me start over.
I think this story is gonna surprise people. Deadpool fans are gonna love seeing their boy cutting loose on the other heroes. Readers who like their killers to be a little edgier and vicious, you’ll get your wish, too.
White: If you’re a Deadpool fan, you’re going to see Wade in a new light, and get to see him doing things we’d never dare allow normally. If you’re the type of reader who’s always dismissed Deadpool as just a goof, take a look. I think you’ll be surprised at how sinister we get. And if you’re a horror movie fan, like me, you gotta give it a try. Where else are you going to see the heartless slaughter of people who only want to make the world a better place?
This comic is going to be vicious. It’s a dark and wicked comic, both in the sense of gleeful evil and in the Boston sense. Because you demanded it, Deadpool is going to kill every one of your idols! Aren’t you intrigued?
Bunn: This is a story that’s gonna be mean and cruel and funny and tragic, all at the same time. Four issues over the course of a month. You don’t even have to wait that long to satisfy your bloodlust.
And I just want to reiterate: No one is safe.
“Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe” this August with the help of Cullen Bunn, Dalibor Talajic and Kaare Andrews