Ever since his debut in 1991’s New Mutants #98, Wade Wilson has gotten over with fans for reasons that appear unfathomable on the surface. Created by Fabien Nicieza and Rob Liefeld, Deadpool started out as a villain, who was hired by ‘90s X-Men villain Tolliver to attack Cable and his new charges, the New Mutants. Not much was known about the mysterious mercenary but he managed to resonate with fans, who followed his misadventures through various guest spots and limited series throughout the decade. Marvel finally granted him his own ongoing series in 1997 helmed by Joe Kelly, who grafted the ability to break the fourth wall onto the character and undercut his use of extreme violence by injecting humor into his one-note personality.
A fixture on the cosplay circuit, fans continue to devour numerous titles pairing him up with heroes such as Cable, Spider-Man and Wolverine. The undeniable success of his blockbuster movie in 2015 catapulted the Merc with a Mouth to even greater heights of popularity thanks to copious amounts of gratuitous violence and college-level toilet humor. But what’s to love about such a one-dimensional antihero, whose only saving grace is his potty mouth? Not much, really. Here then, are 15 reasons we love to hate Deadpool.
SPOILER ALERT! Spoilers ahead for numerous stories published by Marvel Comics.
15 SAME OLD, SAME OLD
One of the major reasons we hate Deadpool (and as this list attests, there are many) is that he adds nothing new to the comics landscape. A pastiche of numerous characters, his creation can be traced back to established heroes and villains such as Spider-Man, Wolverine and most pointedly Deathstroke, the Terminator. Reportedly, Fabian Nicieza noticed the similarities with the perennial Teen Titans villain immediately and even gave him a similar name for his civilian identity.
Instead of Slade Wilson, Deadpool’s real name is Wade Wilson. A blatant ripoff of three of the most popular characters of the era of his creation, Deadpool falls short on originality in a genre desperately seeking new ideas. Comics didn’t need yet another gun-toting, ultra-violent killing machine. A testament to the false tenet that there’s no new ideas in comics, Deadpool helped perpetuate the myth that the graphic narrative was an inferior artistic medium.
14 WEAK SUPPORTING CAST
A character lacking in originality isn’t likely to have a strong supporting cast. Such is the case with the Merc with a Mouth. Aside from the mysterious Blind Al, who he abused physically and mentally for years as his hostage, not much of a supporting cast exists for Deadpool. You could argue that’s changed with the relatively recent additions of Emily Preston and Eleanor Camacho, but largely the supporting players in Deadpool’s life are derivative cardboard cutouts that reveal little about their protagonist.
In fact, Deadpool tends to surround himself with people who are interchangeable with himself. His "Mercs for Money," for example are nothing more than third tier antiheroes devoid of any defining traits that set them apart from the star they orbit. Whereas fully realized characters like Spider-Man and Batman can boast supporting casts that enhance our understanding of their personalities, Deadpool’s hangers-ons tend to do just the opposite.
13 OVERACTIVE HEALING FACTOR
Ever since the debut of Wolverine, the hyperactive healing factor has been one of the most coveted superpowers in all of comics. From the countless members of Weapon X to interstellar psychopaths such as Lobo, numerous heroes and villains have benefitted from what has become the comic book version of deus ex machina. In Deadpool’s case, the ability to recover from virtually any wound has become willfully gratuitous; allowing him to survive all manner of grievous injuries, from what would normally be fatal gunshots to the head to goring by rampaging elephants.
Although largely played up for comedic purposes, Deadpool’s healing factor is patently ludicrous and a deal with Marvel’s Lady Death has made him effectively immortal. This all begs the question: If your hero is unkillable, then how is he ever in any danger? There’s nothing more boring than a superhero battle where the hero’s survival is already a foregone conclusion.
12 LAME NAME
Another way Deadpool falls short is his name. A prime example of ‘90s lameness, in which every other character had the words “death,” “dead” or “blood” latched onto their codenames, Wade Wilson’s working nom-du-plume is further testament to the lack of originality infecting the character. Definitely a product of a decade more concerned with cashing in on comics’ burgeoning popularity by flooding the market with bland one-hit wonders, Deadpool was virtually indistinguishable from similar gun-toting maniacs taking up prime real estate in comics shops in the ‘90s.
Despite attempting to lend weight to his codename by attaching it to a literal death pool in both comics and on the big screen, this ham-fisted approach to retroactively deepen his origin felt forced and unnecessary. This is a character whose lack of originality is one of his defining traits, so why not just own it?
11 HIS VILLAINS ARE WEAK
Just as his supporting cast lacks depth and development, so too does Deadpool’s rogues gallery need fleshing out. In fact, he has very few villains that he could call his own. His list of adversaries reads like the episode list for Where Are They Now?, appropriated from the rogues galleries of other more established heroes. Batroc, the Basillisk, Weapon X and Bullseye are either better known for their vendettas against other heroes (Captain America, Wolverine and Daredevil, among others) or are better off left in comic book limbo.
The handful of villains Deadpool can lay claim to, such as T-Ray, Slayback and Evil Deadpool, generally lack the personality or skill set to intrigue readers and provide a challenge to Wade. Every great hero needs great villains and if Deadpool is ever going to be anything other than an empty brand, he needs to up the ante and find someone worth fighting.
10 SHOW HIM THE MONEY!
Despite attempts in recent years to recast Deadpool in a heroic light, there’s very little about him that is actually heroic. He was, is and likely always will be a mercenary assassin and thief looking for his next big score. Although organizations such as Heroes for Hire aren’t above charging handsomely for their services, they also give back to their communities in tangible ways.
Riding a wave of recent popularity in the 616, Deadpool even hired a bunch of D-list proxies like Solo, Foolkiller and Slapstick to masquerade as himself, just so he could further pad his bottom line. These Mercs for Money eventually discovered that their untrustworthy employer was not only reluctant to pay for their services but was skimming off the top whenever he did provide them with a paycheck. At the end of the day, the only thing this horrible boss cares about is making fat stacks.
9 HE’S NOT THAT FUNNY
Among his legion of fans, Deadpool has a reputation for being funny. But is toilet humor really that funny? Did you really laugh as hard during a second viewing of his movie? Or did the jokes all come across as little more than retread National Lampoon gags? There’s a reason the star of Van Wilder and Waiting was such a perfect choice to play Wade Wilson, you know.
Humor, when done well, is an effective storytelling tool in comics. Take Spider-Man’s trademark quips or the comedic stylings of Blue Beetle and Booster Gold during their classic run in the Justice League. Both are often laugh-out-loud funny, without having to revert to crass jokes about male genitalia and anal sex. Deadpool’s brand of comedy is intended to shock the audience and not much else. It’s like comparing Andy Dyck to George Carlin. It just shouldn’t be done.
8 THE ONE-DIMENSIONAL MAN
We could forgive Deadpool’s lack of originality if there had been any substantial character development over the past quarter century to add depth to his persona. Aside from his initial transformation from largely silent killer to aggravating motormouth, not much has changed over the past 25-plus years. He’s still a deranged killer, who never shuts up and not much more than that.
In recent years, the powers-that-be at Marvel have tried to make Deadpool more palatable to new and casual readers by making him a father and an Avenger. However, we would argue these clumsy attempts at adding depth to his character are driven more by marketing rather than a genuine desire to deepen our understanding of his motivations. Capitalizing on the popularity of one of your properties isn’t necessarily unjustifiable but when it becomes the foundation of unwieldy change for the character, it just feels empty and false.
7 THE DEADPOOL CORPS
Do we really need more than one Deadpool? We think not. As we’ve already noted, Deadpool is a one-dimensional character with few, if any, redeeming qualities. While the latter might not automatically make him uninteresting, it certainly doesn’t warrant countless carbon copies. The Corps first appeared as an army of alternate Deadpools recruited from across the Marvel Multiverse to help the 616 version combat a threat of cosmic proportions. Even worse, there was a rival Corps comprised of evil Deadpools dedicated to wiping out all alternate versions of Wade Wilson.
Most assuredly a parody of both the thousands of Green Lanterns patrolling the cosmos of the DC Universe and mainstream superhero comics’ ponderous fascination with the concept of multiverses, the Deadpool Corps needlessly remind readers of all the money they’ve spent on lazy storytelling founded on a dubious, overused plot device.
6 BELTS, POUCHES AND STRAPS, OH MY!
To be fair, most modern superhero costumes kind of suck, lacking in distinctive characteristics like a unique silhouette, a la Batman, or sensible and cool design aesthetics like Spider-Man. What makes Deadpool’s costume such hot garbage is its continued adherence to lame ‘90s superhero chic and its appropriation of elements from far better designed costumes. Not only does Deadpool’s costume look like a cast-off uniform found at the bottom of either Spider-Man or Deathstroke’s closet, its excess of useless belts, straps and pouches anchors it to a single era.
A great superhero costume is timeless and able to survive the inevitable tweaks and upgrades that come with decades of publication for different generations. While Deadpool’s costume has remained relatively unchanged since his debut, there was nothing noteworthy about it to preserve in the first place.
5 BREAKING THE 4th WALL (NOT A SUPERPOWER)
Deadpool wasn’t the first major character in mainstream comics to break the fourth wall. Characters like She-Hulk, Promethea and Squirrel Girl have all broken comics’ invisible barrier between fictional character and reader to varying degrees of success over the years. At best, this storytelling device adds a light-hearted, comedic tone to otherwise derivative graphic narratives. When overused, the constant prattling to readers feels overbearing. Deadpool drags the concept kicking and screaming to its most ridiculous end.
For one thing, his ability to break the fourth wall has been used inconsistently by different writers over his fictional lifespan, sometimes ignored completely. For another, Deadpool ‘s hyperactive self-awareness as a fictional character is often treated as a superpower, allowing him to surmount adversaries and obstacles far too easily. Breaking the fourth wall adds an unnecessary level of omniscience to Deadpool better left in the past.
4 SOMEONE LET HIM BREED
Let’s face facts. As cute and adorable as his daughter Ellie Camacho is, Deadpool is the last person in the Marvel Universe who should be a father. What’s he going to teach this kid? How to maim, kill and otherwise trivialize the sanctity of human life? Maybe he’ll teach her how to never shut up or when to employ a falsely inflated sense of humor.
Despite the obvious tenderness he feels for Ellie, he’s abandoned her several times. True, he did so to protect her from his enemies, especially after a surge in his public profile, but we call B.S. If he really loved this kid, he’d consider her needs before his own and retire in order to raise his daughter in a healthy environment. Surely someone of his background and resources can elude his many enemies and give Ellie the life she deserves.
3 HE’S NEVER PAID FOR HIS CRIMES
As we’ve stated repeatedly throughout our list, Deadpool is a character lacking in remorse or a need for redemption. He’s a maniacal killer, who defaults to mutilation and murder to achieve his goals. His bodycount in the Marvel Universe is staggering. And yet, he’s never really paid for his crimes. While both the Avengers and the X-Men have boasted several shady characters over the course of their respective histories, most of them have paid some kind of price for their past misdeeds, either sacrificing their lives or their freedom to atone for their sins.
The same can’t be said of Deadpool. Any attempts to redeem Deadpool feel hollow and insincere simply because they never stick. Inevitably, for every time Wade Wilson takes a step down the path to true redemption, he takes three steps backwards, falling into his old habits of death and destruction.
2 THE RATED-R AVENGER
Deadpool broke global records as the top-grossing R-rated movie of all time. That’s no mean feat, but in the world of mainstream comics, it probably shouldn’t be a bragging point. This becomes especially true when Marvel insists on attaching Deadpool to another monstrously successful property in the Avengers. While there’s little chance the franchises will crossover on the big screen, Deadpool has been a member of the Avengers in the comics for some time now.
The line between comics and their movie adaptations is becoming ever slimmer and herein lay the problem with Deadpool as an Avenger. The Avengers is a kid-friendly property, especially within its film franchise. Deadpool, on the other hand, subsists on multiple references to male genitalia. Little more than a cynical, misguided play to capitalize on two successful franchises, Marvel wants to have its cake and eat it too, to the detriment of fans of both properties.
Not only does Deadpool have an unnecessary corps of interdimensional copies from across the multiverse, he’s literally been plastered everywhere in the 616. No doubt spurred by the gargantuan success of his blockbuster movie, Marvel Comics has seen fit to capitalize on Deadpool’s surging popularity by shoe-horning his ugly mug into several ongoing series every month, including his solo book, team-up titles pairing him with Spider-Man, Wolverine and Cable, spinoffs such as Unbelievable Gwenpool and Mercs for Money and membership in Uncanny Avengers.
And that doesn’t include his appearance in crossover events such as Secret Empire. What Marvel fails to realize is that it’s possible to have too much of a good thing — or a bad thing, in Deadpool’s case. By super-saturating the marketplace with Deadpool, readers will eventually get tired of seeing him pop up literally everywhere. It’s not like his name is Wolverine or something...
Let us know how much you love to hate (or hate to love) Deadpool in the comments!