Twenty-five years ago, a mouthy mercenary clad in red and black sliced his way into the pages of "New Mutants" and the hearts of fans all over the world. Now, after a quarter century of offensive adventures, Deadpool has become a major movie star and one of the most popular comic book characters around. To celebrate Deadpool's 25th anniversary, a group consisting of some of the creators responsible for his rise to prominence and dominance gathered together at C2E2 in Chicago. Present at the panel were Deadpool co-creator Fabian Nicieza, "Spider-Man/Deadpool" artist Ed McGuinness, "Uncanny Avengers" artist Ryan Stegman, Deadpool line editor Jordan D. White and moderated by Marvel Talent Scout Rickey Purdin.
Editor Jordan D. White kicked off the panel by serenading the crowd with Deadpool's "James Bond"-style theme, which White wrote for the "Dracula's Gauntlet" Infinite Comic series. Nicieza jokingly downplayed his involvement with Deadpool, leading White to nudge Nicieza a bit by pointing out he's the first writer to write Deadpool. Nicieza pointed out that Daniel Way and now Gerry Duggan have written more with the character by now, but Nicieza still holds the record for writing the most Cable issues.
White asked the panel if they had any favorite character for Deadpool to interact with. Nicieza said it was originally Cable but Bob, Agent of HYDRA has taken that place. "Be sure to spread the word that he's not HYDRA Bob, he's Bob Agent of Hydra." Stegman said he likes it when Deadpool interacts with Cable and Old Man Steve Rogers. McGuinness, of course, said Spider-Man "because I'm drawing it right now. Seeing the multiple levels Joe Kelly's writing, it's a lot of fun." White revealed that issue #4 of "Spider-Man/Deadpool" will feature the two doing something "they've never actually done together in a comic book." White likes Deadpool when he's hanging out with Shiklah, even though "that's a controversial thing to say. People yell at me on Tumblr about her."
The floor then opened up to fan questions. The first question focused on his balance with the general audience, which sometimes views the character as a joke character. Nicieza said, "I created wrote, and didn't write for ten years and came back and wrote a different Deadpool. He's evolved. You can not agree with something or not like and also respect the people doing it. I would have never gone for the totally silly stuff or married Deadpool off to an ancient demon or done the supernatural stuff. It's not how I see the character. I prefer grounding him in the real world, but the other side of the coin is that I never wrote a monthly Deadpool comic. The books I wrote are different creatures than a monthly solo Deadpool book." Nicieza said he quit writing Deadpool in 2008 because the editorial staff wanted to go in a different direction with the character, but he also says it's fine that fans have their own interpretation and like different sides of the character.
White said he's fine with fans knowing the character from memes and not comics. "He's part of the shared experience of society. Obviously Marvel decides what happens to him in the comics, but if people think of him differently in the culture, that's fine. I love Deadpool because he can tell meta stories in addition to comic stories, and the idea that people in pop culture think he's just a jokester - isn't that what he wants? The character jokes all the time so no one knows he's sad all the time. Deadpool wants people to misunderstand him!"
A fan asked if the R-rated movie would make the character become more mature readers in the comics. White said they have done a mature readers comic series before, and that they've "upped the gore and violence in the comics slowly but surely over time." Jordan said that the book got more gory at the end of "Cable & Deadpool" in 2008, possibly because of artist Reilly Brown. "We lean into that and get away with it because it's cartoony and funny, although we don't swear in the comics," said White.
"The violence in the comics, if that were a film it would be rated R. That's the only difference. The conversation I've had with Jordan is that with Deadpool appearing in LEGO toys and on Disney XD, you see more and more kids coming up to you for Deadpool autographs. As a publisher, you gotta figure out how to handle the character," said Nicieza.
White then tried to determine the youngest DP fan in the audience, which turned into an auction-style experience with kids shouting their ages. The youngest seemed to be an 11-year old. Stegman added that he likes drawing violence, so he likes the R-rated Deadpool. Stegman said his young son, no matter what, says that Deadpool is Spider-Man. McGuinness added that he likes drawing PG-13 Deadpool, which his kids can still read.
A fan asked if there was a reason why Deadpool used two swords. "I think Rob [Liefeld] thought that drawing two swords was cooler than drawing one sword," said Nicieza, to a round of applause. Nicieza said that he, at one point, named the swords Maul and Oats. "It should always be a pop culture combo, or the first and last name of a character," said Nicieza. McGuinness said that he put names on his guns: Moe, Larry and Curly.
Nicieza said the worst issue he wrote of "Cable & Deadpool" was the one where Spider-Man guest-starred, which he thought would be fun. "I hated making Spider-Man the straight man, but that happens with anyone when they're up against Deadpool," said Nicieza, who says he then read the new team-up series by Joe Kelly and that it's "so f'ing good."
A fan asked about Deadpool's evolving sexuality, which has seen him be embraced by some fans as pansexual. "There's obviously a very vocal and passionate fan community, and to be totally honest with you I first heard it from them," said White. "I totally see what people are talking about."
"At the end of the day, the way the character was created is that his perception of the world and of himself is perpetually fluid," said Nicieza. Nicieza said that his brain's constant regeneration thanks to his healing factor means that he may think he's one thing one week and a different thing the next week. "That means he can be whatever you want him to be, and whatever they want him to be; you can't one hundred percent own him, you have to share him. If you want him to be one specific sexuality, he can be that, but you can't begrudge someone else that wants him to be another sexuality. He's something for everyone."
A fan asked how Deadpool and Green Lantern would interact, and White said that he doesn't think DP would let GL live down how much better the Merc's movie is.
A fan brought up Black Tom Cassidy, and Nicieza remembered that the character's power is that he can "shoot energy through his wood" - which got a good laugh. Nicieza said he had no idea how to make Tom interesting back in the early '90s DP series "Circle Chase," so he infused him with wood - "which is a decision we made without the influence of drugs."
The panel was asked if there's a chance to see Domino in the Deadpool comics, to which Jordan said there are plans for her. Nicieza then revealed that he did not know the original Domino was Vanessa posing as her until a year after she appeared, and he actually thanked Rob for keeping that a secret from him.
The panel talked about what they relate to Deadpool. Nicieza says that writing Deadpool allows him to purge a lot of thoughts that he might have to pay a therapist to deal with. "That lack of filter, that's 100% me I'm sorry to say," said Nicieza. "That's why Deadpool is popular with people, because he says them and thinks them. It's very refreshing to be able to get away with doing this through a character."
"The Deadpool that talks like me the most is the one on the recap page because I write those," said White. "I love that he's aspirational, it's a thing I like and try to do. He's a character that screws up all the time and then never gives up. He's very resilient."
"I like to make fun of people a lot, and I'm very sarcastic, so that's how I relate to him," said Stegman. McGuinness said he likes the physical humor, to "totally animate him and incorporate as many derpy faces as possible to have fun with him."
When it comes to their dream tone for the character, Nicieza says that it's hard to determine one course for the character with a monthly book. "He can say he's going to be the best hero, but that's a six issue arc. That's your promo hook to launch a series," said Nicieza. "You need to cycle the status quo a bit and have him screw up. It's not a cement approach, not with this character. It's different with Captain America, but Deadpool's ethos can fundamentally change."
White said that you want a new run to be informed by what came before. "You can say you want him being a big superhero, but if that's what the previous person did you don't also want to do that," said White.
"I'd send him to space and kill him, and bring him back as Doc Ock," joked Stegman.
A fan asked if there are stories that have been pitched that were too much or went too far, to which White emphatically said yes. Nicieza said a new Deadpool limited series was ready to go in 1995, but editorial said it was "too depressing." He was going to tell his origin story, which was eventually told by Joe Kelly and the recent feature film. "It was a hard, nasty story, because at the time my mother in law had gone through cancer and passed away," said Nicieza. "I was processing all of that and found a way to process it through the characters." Nicieza said he doesn't talk about "what could have beens," but the movie made him frustrated that he didn't get to tell that story in 1995. "That was one of the nails in my coffin with the X-titles back then."
Stegman added that he can't draw exit wounds in "Uncanny Avengers."
A cosplayer dressed as a cheerleader Deadpool asked the panel which non-Marvel characters they would like to see Deadpool meet. After Nicieza said he wants Deadpool to interact with Dick Cheney; White said wants Deadpool and Boba Fett to team up. Nicieza chimed in saying that Fett's the opposite of Deadpool because DP is a merc "that succeeds." Stegman said Donald Trump, and Nicieza said he wants to see DP try to get Trump's hair off. "Then he'd wear the hair for the rest of the issue," joked Nicieza.
In the vein of "Deadpool's Secret Secret Wars," a fan asked what other old Marvel stories they'd like to see DP inserted into. Nicieza said he would love to see Jack Kirby draw Deadpool in the original "Fantastic Four" Silver Surfer/Galactus story. White hinted that he's working on another Deadpool in the '80s story, but he can't reveal more about it.
White spoke about the origin of the current "Spider-Man/Deadpool" series, saying that the online fandom inspired them to make the series. "They'd teamed up in the last run of 'Deadpool' and one of the recent Spider-Man series, so I said that if people wanted them to team up to let Marvel know," said White. "It was a very overwhelming response. We got a billion emails, saying they'd love to buy a 'Spider-Man/Deadpool' series."
McGuinness said he turned down "Star Wars" to reunite with Joe Kelly on Deadpool again. "Our original run, I had a really good time with it and I love drawing the character," said McGuinness. McGuinness said that he feels a responsibility to figure out how to emote with characters that wear full-face masks. White revealed that on the cover of every issue, Ed draws the "Spider-Man/Deadpool" symbol differently each time making sure it matches the expressions of the characters on the cover.
Lastly, the panel concluded with a question about villains the panel would like to see Deadpool fight. Stegman said, "Doc Ock, and then Ock comes back and replaces him." Nicieza said he wants him to fight swarm and then "he defeats Swarm and makes him become his beard."