Spider-Man has accomplished many considerable feats over the course of his storied, superheroic career in Marvel's fictional universe, including saving New York, the world and even the universe. But none of those tasks were as infuriating or difficult as trying to be friends with the most mouthy mercenary in the Marvel Universe, Deadpool.
The duo are currently on the outs because of Deadpool's actions in the Secret Empire event, but if they can survive the long-form story Robbie Thompson and his artistic collaborators are currently telling in Spider-Man/Deadpool they just might rediscover what inspired them to be friends in the first place.
Thompson kicked off his run in Spider-Man/Deadpool #23 with a present-day story that found the webslinger hunting down his former friend, and over the course of the next nine issues Spidey's old foe, the Chameleon, became involved along with a whole host of supporting players. Two other prominent elements have been the legacy of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s LMD program, which was revealed to be connected to Peter Parker's parents, and a time-travel plot that found older versions of Spider-Man and Deadpool in an assisted living facility.
In issue #32, released earlier this month, all those elements began to converge as Thompson's story starts to come to a head. So CBR spoke with the writer about his plans for Spider-Man and Deadpool, artists such as Scott Hepburn and Matt Horak who are bringing those plans to life, and his inspirations for all the crazy twists and turns we've seen so far.
CBR: So Robbie, for the past several months you've been telling a story of Spider-Man and Deadpool in the present day and one in a possible future with Old Man Wade and Old Man Parker. We've been given clues that have shown how these two stories are connected, but it looks like with issue #32, these two stories have sort of converged, correct? Is Old Man Wade now in the present day with Spider-Man and Deadpool?
Robbie Thompson: That’s correct! The two timelines intertwine at the end of issue #32, and we see the fallout of that in issue #33. In #32, Old Man Wilson has decided the only way to change his horrible present is to change the past. So, while in the Future Fantastic Four’s Baxter Building, he uses Doom’s Time Platform to travel back to stop all the madness in his time from happening. Before he leaves, Valeria points out that the time machine is cursed... which Old Man Wilson quickly finds out is true as he does travel back in time -- but in the process, he swaps places with the current timeline’s Deadpool. So as Old Man Wilson goes back in time, our Deadpool goes to the future!
When talking with editors Nick Lowe and Kathleen Wisneski about this arc, we really wanted to exploit the two timelines as emotionally as possible, which motivated us to have them swap places. Since the future time is about Wade’s guilt, and the past has focused on Wade’s and Spider-Man’s fractured relationship, we decided to have the Deadpools’ swap place in order to shine a light on those predicaments. Wade will see the future consequences of his actions in this possible dark future first hand, and Old Man Wilson can show Spider-Man that things do, in fact, work out for their friendship. The world is probably ending, and the Spider-Man of the future is dying, but, hey, at least they’re still pals!
A large part of this story has been about Wade and Peter being at odds, but still discovering that they care about each other. At one point Wade even admits that out of all the people he disappointed during Secret Empire and its aftermath he regrets letting Peter down the most. Can you talk about why you think these guys have such a deep connection, and what they sort of represent to each other?
Drilling down on their friendship was our goal from the first issue. When we started, they were even more at odds due to the events of Secret Empire. That allowed us to have them wind up in situations where they were forced to find common ground. We wanted to contrast their current status quo by showing them in a future, where they’re living in an old folk’s home... but of course still have some issues.
As for why these two have such a deep connection, for me it goes back to the awesome work that Joe Kelly and Ed McGuinness did in their launch of this series. We wanted to carry on the work they did and keep exploring why these two are friends. I think with Wade, he’s an anti-hero, but there’s a true blue hero somewhere deep down inside, under all the toilet humor and murder and lack of boundaries. And he views Spider-Man as the gold standard of being a good guy. He admires him. And who can blame him? For Spider-Man, one thing that I love about him is that he has the ability to see the potential good in anyone. Even when it costs him. So, he knows Wade is foolish and goes too far, but he also has seen Wade be heroic, as well as save Spider-Man from time to time. And yet, Wade can always snatch defeat from the claws of victory on his path to redemption.
There’s a push pull there for Spider-Man. He wants to believe Deadpool can be good, but it’s a bit of Lucy, Charlie Brown and the football situation, you know? Every time it seems like Deadpool’s on the right path... he snatches it away from himself and Spider-Man. With the events of Secret Empire, this dynamic finally came to a head, but we’re hoping to use this story to get them back together and on the same page again. If they don’t die horribly before that, of course.
[Laughs] In addition to being about the friendship and dynamic between Peter and Wade your story also concerns LMDs and artificial intelligences. One particularly interesting twist to that aspect of the story is the mysterious “Master Matrix” and the role Richard and Mary Parker played in its development. What can you tell us about the inspiration for those elements of the story?
I have to give credit and enormous thanks to the book’s editors for that idea and for this turn in the story. I had prepared this big pitch document for the current arc, and it had a lot of plot and action, but something was missing. As we were trading emails about it, Kathleen had great notes and questions about the LMDs, as well as Chameleon’s plan. The notes started to fill in what was missing. The big note was about finding a way to tie all this to a larger part of the Marvel history. So, I pitched an idea for a possible twist, but it didn’t quite work. It did feel like the right direction, though, tying it to something bigger.
That’s when Nick fired back an email about Richard and Mary Parker, and their history with S.H.I.E.L.D. It matched really well with the history of the LMDs we wanted to explore, but more importantly, it made the story much more personal for Peter. His parents and who they were -- that’s a part of his history that has largely remained in shadows. This felt like an opportunity to shine a small light on that dark corner, and introduce a new character to the Marvel Universe that has a unique tie to Spider-Man’s history in the process. As soon as I started writing the story, as well as the Master Matrix, it felt like the perfect fit. So, I’m grateful to Nick and Kathleen for their awesome story brains.