This is a thing that is happening: Deadpool is heading to television in an animated series for FXX. The 10-episode season is expected to debut in 2018, and will be written and produced by Donald Glover along with his brother Stephen. 2016’s Deadpool movie starring Ryan Reynolds as the titular Merc with a Mouth performed extremely well at the box office, and his guest-starring stint on Disney XD’s Ultimate Spider-Man had fans giddy, but there are a number of reasons to believe the Glover-helmed animated series may end up being the best iteration of this character on screen.
Created by Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza, Deadpool first appeared in The New Mutants #98, cover dated February 1991. From his earliest days, he’s been a parody of other superhero comic characters — his name, Wade Wilson, is a play on classic Teen Titans villain Deathstroke, aka Slade Wilson, for example. Since his debut, Deadpool’s covered the gamut from slapstick to dark comedy, constantly breaking the fourth wall and telling PG-13 to R-rated jokes. Yeah, he’s got an accelerated healing factor and incredible physical strength, but more than that, he’s, well, kind of crazy. A mercenary, sometimes siding with the good guys and sometimes siding with the bad, Deadpool is one of the wackiest characters in Marvel Comics. In short, he’s a perfect fit for Donald Glover.
A multi-talented entertainer, with experience writing, producing, directing and acting as well as creating and performing music under his pseudonym Childish Gambino, Glover has been telling smart but raunchy jokes since his YouTube comedy days with Derrick Comedy back in 2006. After making waves with the incredibly popular videos, Glover was tapped to write for NBC’s 30 Rock, where he helps craft super-smart jokes for Liz Lemon and crew until he decided that writing wasn’t enough for him. Deciding he wanted to perform, he joined the ensemble cast of the bizarre but wonderful Community. Since then, Glover’s worked in movies (The Martian, Magic Mike XXL), television (Girls), animation (Adventure Time, Ultimate Spider-Man), and brought the stunning Atlanta to our screens. All of this in addition to his musical and standup careers.
Donald Glover is weird, and he revels in i — his standup special is actually called Weirdo. He’s a Black nerd who doesn’t necessarily exude the traditional masculinity, something that makes him perfect for Lando Calrissian, who he’ll be playing in the upcoming Han Solo movie. Despite all of his talent and success, he’s still a bit of an outsider. This outsider perspective will be helpful when writing Deadpool.
Deadpool, too is an outsider; not quite a superhero, not quite a supervillain. His mental instability often means he spends time alone. His ability to perceive who he is and where he is — in a comic book, on the page — is something that no one else in his world has, and his truth telling makes him unbelievable and, well, weird.
Self-awareness and hyper-meta comedy is a hallmark of Glover’s as well. When news broke in 2010 that Spider-Man was being rebooted for film yet again, it was suggested that Donald should get the role, a notion he retweeted with #DonaldforSpiderman. The hashtag blew up, becoming a fully fledged Internet Thing with a capital “T”. Glover didn’t get the job, obviously, but he used that bizarre experience as fodder for his standup special and lyrics in a song before being tapped to voice Miles Morales in the Ultimate Spider-Man animated show. That’s some meta comic book shenanigans right there.
Donald Glover is hyper-aware of his experiences in the world as a Black man, as a nerd… and as a Black nerd. And these experiences are not always positive, as seen in the racist backlash against Donald for the Spider-Man campaign. He’s able to turn these negative experiences and situations into comedy, however, making us laugh at his jokes while simultaneously crying about the state of the world. Deadpool is much the same. In X-Men Origins: Deadpool, our merc says, “When you’re confronted with a horrible situation, there are only two reactions that make sense: laughter and tears. And laughter, after all, is nature’s anesthesia. Tears hurt too much.” Both Deadpool and Donald Glover give us laughter and tears. They evoke the absurdity and horror of the world with empathy and humor.
But Glover’s also got the juvenile, dirty humor found in so many Deadpool comics, and loved by so many Deadpool fans. There’s no doubt this new show will be aimed at adults; people are already comparing it to Archer, FXX’s animated show about a foul-mouthed, self-centered spy. Glover can handle this kind of humor; in Weirdo, he tells a joke that starts with discussing rape with his neighbor and ends up and superhero poop-on-command powers, while another joke compares babies to AIDS. He can be just as wild and off-color as Deadpool demands, while still maintaining the ultimate decency and empathy of the character.
Deadpool is super-charming, despite his potty mouth. He’s got snappy wit and ruffian swagger that we also see in Donald Glover. Because of this, we’d love to see Glover take on the voice acting for Wade Wilson in addition to his other duties. He’s sexy, he’s funny, and he’s got the acting chops to portray the trauma that underlies Deadpool’s mania. Plus, #DonaldforDeadpool has a nice ring to it.