Super human figures capable of healing from or shrugging off the gravest of injuries populate the Marvel Universe, existing in a reality where death is more of a time out until an inevitable resurrection than the end of the story. Sometimes fans can take their enthusiasm too far, and that goes double for Gwen Poole, a lifelong Marvel fan with no super powers who suddenly finds herself in a world where all her favorite heroes are 100% real. Gwen decides to use her vast knowledge of the Marvel U — and her belief that it’s a consequence-free world — to become the costumed mercenary known as Gwenpool.
After making her debut on a variant cover and quickly attracting a fan following, especially with cosplayers, writer Christopher Hastings and artists Danilo Beyruth and Gurihiru introduced Gwen Poole into the Marvel Universe via a recent backup story in “Howard the Duck” and a new adventure in the holiday-themed “Gwenpool Special.” Thus far Gwen’s luck, knowledge and belief that her behavior is without consequences have allowed her to survive some perilous events. Things get kicked up a notch this April when Hastings and Gurihiru kick off a new ongoing “Gwenpool” series that will show their protagonist the Marvel Universe is far more dangerous than she ever imagined.
CBR News spoke with Hastings about creating Gwenpool, the adventures his protagonist will embark upon in the ongoing series, the veteran mercenary that will try and take her under his wing, and the possibility of Gwenpool coming face to face with Marvel’s most famous merc, Deadpool.
CBR News: So Chris, you’ve written all of Gwenpool’s adventures to date and from talking with Wil Moss it sounds like you, he, and Jordan D. White sort of came up with who the character was and her backstory over lunch. So what was it about the initial Gwenpool image and concept that made you want to develop the character? And how does it feel now that you’re getting to write her own ongoing?
Christopher Hastings: Well, it was a very interesting puzzle of a character I was excited to work out. She had a name, a costume, and a lot of cosplayers! We had to figure everything else out beyond that.
Since she was to exist in the main Marvel universe, not an alternate one, she couldn’t be Gwen Stacy, and she couldn’t be related to Deadpool. That would just be weird to cram into the MU. I think doing a short one-off “What if Gwen Stacy became Deadpool” story could be fun, but more than that, it would probably get old pretty quickly, not to mention watering down what’s so great about Spider-Gwen. I don’t want to do that.
So we’ve got those limitations, but there are going to be expectations from that name and that costume. A challenge, but a fun one!
I came to the famed Gwenpool Lunch Meeting with the idea about Gwen being from a “real world” and having that drive her attitude, and then Jordan and Wil and I hammered out other details beyond that. Mostly, where did she get the costume, why is she called “Gwenpool” and how does she end up crossing paths with Howard the Duck.
I’m thrilled to get to write more of her in a proper ongoing. The “Howard” backups and the holiday special were a thrill to write, but they were pretty short, and really just enough to introduce her, and test the audience waters. It’s nice to explore her character a bit more fully.
From what we’ve seen so far of the character’s core personality traits it seems like Gwen is a fun combination of innocence and violence in that her experience of the Marvel Universe is from the comics of her home dimension and death and rebirth are a natural cycle of those stories, and in turn she doesn’t realize her actions have consequences or the dangers she’s putting herself in. Is that a fair read of the character? What inspired you to take the character in that direction?
That is absolutely correct! Like I said, there are going to be expectations about what this character will be like, what with that big old “POOL” on the end of her name. She’s probably going to be a mercenary. She’s going to be expected to be funny — maybe have that awareness that she’s in a comic book. That’s what made me come to the idea that she’s from a “real world” and has actually read Marvel comics before somehow becoming transported into that universe. And it’s like she thinks she’s suddenly wound up in “Grand Theft Auto” or something.
Part of the reason Deadpool is so appealing is the contrast of the character. He’s comical yet there’s a lot of tragedy and sadness to him. It seems like Gwenpool could perhaps have a similar quality to her as well, which makes me wonder about the tone of the ongoing series. Is this going to be primarily a humor title or are you interested in taking her to some dark places as well?
“Gwenpool” is definitely an action/comedy book. As you’ve mentioned, with Gwenpool believing she’s in a fictional world, she doesn’t believe there are consequences to her actions. That leads to a lot of funny stuff. However, a key conflict of this book is the universe pushing back against that notion. Terrible things do happen in the Marvel universe, especially if you don’t take it seriously. So yes, a dark thing or two can occur.
You’ve had Gwenpool interact with several Marvel characters, but I understand in the ongoing you’re expanding her contacts in the mercenary world by bringing one of my favorite characters into the book, Batroc the Leaper. What made you want to bounce Batroc off of Gwen? What can you tell us about the role he plays in the book?
Yeah! Yeah! Batroc! I love Batroc the Leaper, and I’ve been looking for an excuse to write him for a long time now.
Batroc is a great character for this book, because we readers might be inclined to see the silly French kick boxer to only exist as someone for Captain America to beat up. So that’s how Gwen sees him, and Batroc will perhaps show her that there is more to him than that. Gwenpool joins a team of young mercenaries, and Batroc is kind of a cranky uncle to them.
Speaking of mercenaries, I imagine, since they operate in the gun for hire circles, an interaction with Deadpool and perhaps his Mercs For Money is bound to happen eventually. Is that a story you’re interested in telling? Would you like to see how Wade and Gwen react to each other?
Oh boy, I sure am. My editors have insisted that I hold off on that story until Gwen finds her footing as her own character first. That said, I have a feeling Wade would not like Gwen.
Can you hint or tease some of the other supporting players we’ll meet in the initial issues of “Gwenpool?”
For sure! Since Gwenpool is so genre aware, I have some fun putting her in scenarios where she can see it happening to her. She has a little hacker buddy, the guy back at base in front of a computer who’s talking in her earpiece. She joins a group of mercenaries that sort of symbolize a typical D&D party. Let’s see, MODOK has a rather nasty part to play in the saga…
[Laughs] Nice! The title character being a costumed mercenary for hire allows you to take “Gwenpool” in a number of different directions and play with a variety of genres. What can you tell us about Gwen’s initial jobs, the types of stories they’ll involve, and the antagonists she’ll be up against?
Well, Gwenpool really wants to be a hero — but it’s almost more of an issue of survival for her. She thinks if she acts the hero, that means she’s the star of a book, and if she’s the star of a book she can’t die. So she tries to do the right thing, but in her mind, if she thinks she’s trying, that’s all that matters. So say she stops a bank robbery by opening fire on the robbers in the bank, causing total mayhem. She has to assassinate someone in police custody, but — the person is definitely evil, so she feels justified (though you or I may disagree with her).
One of the big conflicts she has is that she wants to play the hero, but she has no super powers. So she gets by with guns and explosives. Except she doesn’t have any training there either! She’s a total noob, out of her depth. She really only has one thing that makes her potentially dangerous to other inhabitants of the Marvel universe. Because she’s read the comics, she knows everyone’s secrets. And if she isn’t responsible with that, it will get her in trouble pretty quickly.
The art team of Gurihiru, with their animated style, seems like they’d be a great fit for the fun and humor of “Gwenpool.” How are you finding that collaboration?
Oh my goodness, they are the best. I have to say, I think they are just phenomenal storytellers. Everything they do serves the story. The way they frame shots, the acting of the characters. They can do action, and they know how to make visual comedy work too. The settings are all unique and specific. The colors set mood and direct your eye. They’re great! I think in the wrong hands Gwenpool could truthfully be obnoxious, but they make her charming!
Finally, Gwenpool’s past, the home dimension she hails from, and how she arrived in the Marvel Universe all remain shrouded in mystery. Are these things we’ll learn more about right away or do you want to keep those elements of the character a mystery for a while?
We’ll definitely be spooning out the tiniest bits of that mystery over an extended period of time.
Gwenpool’s ongoing adventures begin April 13 from Marvel Comics.