MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: Taskmaster was pulled back from being in the first Deadpool movie because Fox lost the rights to the character.
Reader Felix M. wrote in to ask about something that he didn't understand. He had read a few places (even here at CBR) that Deadpool was originally going to fight Taskmaster in the first version of what ultimately became the 2016 blockbuster Deadpool film, but something went wrong with the rights.
It's certainly normal enough to see Taskmaster pop up in a Deadpool story, of course.
Early on in Joe Kelly and Ed McGuinness' run on the series, Deadpool gave Taskmaster his first outright defeat...
Then, during Gail Simone's run on Deadpool, Deadpool and Taskmaster became buddies...
Their friendship has gone through some ups and downs over the years, but the important thing is that they are definitely well-linked together...
Heck, they even shared an action figure two-pack with each other, one of the most sacred bonds in all of comics...
However, their film debut was not to be. Tim Miller, director of the first Deadpool film, lamented the fact that Taskmaster was off limits to them when making Deadpool, since Marvel owned his rights.
What confused Felix, though, and I think likely confuses other people, is how was it that Taskmaster was EVER eligible to star in a Deadpool movie? Was he somehow included in the X-Men rights? Was he included in the Fantastic Four rights? What's the deal?
As it turned out, his deal, as it were, is precisely the same as Deadpool's. You see, Deadpool's movie rights belong to Fox not because he is part of their X-Men package (as I explained in greater detail in this old Movie Legends Revealed), but because New Line Cinema licensed the character from Marvel and then Fox purchased New Line's license from them so that Deadpool could be in X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
In the case of Taskmaster, Fox optioned the rights to the character specifically, because director Joe Carnahan (who directed Smokin' Aces, The Gray and The A-Team) was going to direct a film starring the character. The whole "able to duplicate anyone's abilities" hook really does seem tailor-made for a movie, doesn't it? Meanwhile, Fred Van Lente's miniseries starring the character as an amnesiac also seems like it could be an easy sell as the basis for an action film.
So it all made sense. However, the movie never got made. In the early stages of Deadpool (remember, Deadpool had been in the works for YEARS before it was finally made - basically from the moment that Deadpool made his freaky debut as a film character in X-Men Origins: Wolverine in 2009), the character's rights were therefore the property of Fox, so just like how they took a character that they had a solo deal for (Deadpool) and worked him into a character that they owned the rights to via a larger deal (Wolverine via the X-Men deal), they possibly could have done the same with Taskmaster.
However, by the time Deadpool came to fruition, the licensing deal had lapsed and Taskmaster was once again a Marvel property. There is a VERY good chance that Taskmaster would have been cut from the Deadpool film anyways, as almost all of the characters from the original script ended up cut from the film, most of them for budgetary reasons, but some for story reasons.
But anyhow, that's how Taskmaster almost came to be in a Deadpool movie!
The legend is...
Thanks for the question, Felix!
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.