I was one of the many people who bought “The New Mutants” when the combined talents of Deadpool creators Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza hit the title. From the days when those books dropped, Rob Liefeld was insulted far and wide for his art style, and I get why. Hell, I didn’t think much of it from time to time.
What I did know, however, is that Rob Liefeld helped save “The New Mutants” from a sad death by way of inevitable cancellation due to the book becoming very forgettable as an X-title. Even after Liefeld left Marvel Comics to be one of the Co-Founders of Image Comics, Deadpool lived on. Admittedly, my last dance with the character on a monthly basis was when Deadpool was a supporting character in Marvel Comics’ “X-Force,” the successful “New Mutants” spinoff.
With a creative team led by writer Jeph Loeb — now Head of Marvel Television — penciller Adam Pollina and inker Mark Morales, “X-Force” showed Deadpool as a supporting character fighting alongside Siryn, a female mutant with whom America’s favorite mercenary developed a maybe-maybe-not-Platonic-kind-of-buddy relationship. After that, it was almost no more Deadpool for me. The only time I bought his adventures afterwards was when writer Christopher Priest penned his tales for a time.
Deadpool wasn’t really my cup of tea, but I had to respect the way Marvel handled the character and Deadpool brand. He became the 21st Century Punisher, that badass man with the skills and all those guns that you could add to anything like bacon and it would go down better.
And now, a quarter-century after his publishing premiere, Wade Wilson, Deadpool, the Merc With a Mouth, is America’s favorite antihero superhero, with an unexpected record-breaking opening of $150 million at the box office.
And that sound you hear over the cha-ching of profit, is the community of 20th Century Fox executives singing “Never Can Say Goodbye” by The Jackson Five, because there is no way in God’s green earth they are going to let the X-Men franchise option expire.
“No, no, no, no…”
All those people defecating on Fox for defecating on the “Fantastic Four” franchise are now praising them for a movie some people are saying was better than Marvel Studios “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”
Maybe one of the reasons is that Fox let “Deadpool” go there. No, not there. Over there! The land of the “R” rating. A land of exit wounds and more gore and more bullet impact.
That’s where the world of “Deadpool” exists, in that messy place where Marvel Studios will not tread with their films. Meanwhile, Deadpool danced his bloody way into a financial windfall, and a guaranteed sequel.
Oh sure, Fox said another script was underway as of last week before “Deadpool” hit theaters, but if for some reason the film had bombed, some executive’s dog would have eaten the memo signing off on that decision.
But “Deadpool” did succeed, so now, while the speculations fly about how Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment are digging through their intellectual property library to find a similarly-toned character to fast-track to similar success, Fox is primed and ready with plans for “Deadpool 2,” “The New Mutants,” and “X-Force.”
All of which will likely involve a time-traveling Marvel Comics character named Cable, also co-created and designed by Deadpool co-creator Rob Liefeld.
And I’m smiling. Why, you ask?
Because of George Washington Bridge. What, you ask?
So this guy, Cable, born in the present, thrown into the future, and reappearing in the past to save humanity from descent into a near-apocalyptic future, has led many covert mission groups through the centuries.
One of which was called “The Six Pack,” and one of its members was a military powerhouse named G.W. Bridge, as in George Washington Bridge.
After Cable went off-track and created the high-powered, mutant super squad called X-Force, Bridge took over The Six Pack and became an enemy of Cable. All of this is connected to programs like Weapon X, which created the Wolverine character played by Hugh Jackman, and created our BFF Deadpool.
A whole mythology is about to be utilized by Fox with increased fervor and P&L projections. More Deadpool, guest-starring Cable, adding some more mutants to the mix, and maybe even more films to outdo the output of Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment.
Because all of these names may sound silly to you, and you may not like Rob Liefeld’s art, but a new hell of a day has dawned in Hollywood and your world. If you told anyone sixteen years ago that a Black man would be leading the Avengers on-screen and the film would make a billion dollars, you would have been arrested for drug use.
If Stephen Lang can petition to be the next Marvel mutant superhero star, in a way that women cannot do in Hollywood because the film industry considers them to be fossils by the age of 35, then damned if I can’t hope for G.W. Bridge and The Six Pack to show up in a possible future Cable film or “X-Force.”
By that time, Terry Crews will be perfect for the role. After all, Morgan Freeman’s too old now and Delroy Lindo is the new Dominic Fortune for “Marvel’s Most Wanted,” so Crews is the best choice I have.
In the end, Deadpool may be your best new friend, your idol, a well-armed prostitute to be pimped by Fox for riches beyond our acquisition in an entire lifetime.
To me, he’s a gateway to George Washington Bridge on screen. A Brother with a big tech budget and big guns, who likes to play dirty. The world needs more of those. You know it’s true.
Joseph Phillip Illidge is a public speaker on the subjects of race, comics and the corporate politics of diversity. In addition to his coverage by The New York Times, CNN Money, the BBC and Publishers Weekly, Joseph has been a speaker at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Digital Book World’s forum, Digitize Your Career: Marketing and Editing 2.0, Skidmore College, The School of Visual Arts, Purdue University, on the panel “Diversity in Comics: Race, Ethnicity, Gender and Sexual Orientation in American Comic Books” and at the Soho Gallery for Digital Art in New York City.
Joseph is the Head Writer for Verge Entertainment. Verge has developed an extensive library of intellectual properties for live-action and animated television and film, video games, graphic novels and web-based entertainment.
His graphic novel project, “The Ren,” about the romance between a young musician from the South and a Harlem-born dancer in 1925, set against the backdrop of a crime war, will be published by First Second Books, a division of Macmillan.
Joseph’s newest comic book project is the upcoming Scout Comics miniseries “Solarman,” a revamp of a teenage superhero originally written by Stan Lee.