With the first full-length Deadpool feature film coming to make super-powered movies R-rated again, most nerds have to wonder: who really is the Merc With The Mouth? What are his secret origins? Who are his buddies and what makes him the Internet’s favorite anti-hero?
After some considerable soul-searching and a lot of trudging through back issues of the Internet’s favorite anti-hero, we are finally ready to give you…
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT DEADPOOL… MOSTLY
POWERS AND ABILITIES
What is a superhero bio without a list of his powers? Short answer: not much, really. Slightly longer answer: a very impressive resume, but only when you’re referencing Batman.
Deadpool’s powers, at last count, include: rapid regenerative abilities (from his ‘borrowed’ Wolverine healing factor), a heightened resistance to all poisons and toxins, and functional immortality by virtue of bull-cockey science (apparently his own cells have become as immortal as the cancer-cells forever eating away at him). According to the reference material we have run through, Deadpool is capable of restoring himself from any possible form of harm, up to and including decapitation, incineration, as well as losing over 70% of his body mass after he got pounded into paste by the Incredible Hulk.
Super-strength was also listed as another of Deadpool’s powers for a while, but it seems to have gone away for now. For the time being, Wade Wilson has to rely on his considerable gun-training, his expert sword-fighting skills, and his extensive familiarity with a number of martial arts styles, all of which he further enhances by virtue of his seemingly random, unpredictable fighting style.
Lastly, Deadpool has access to a number of teleportation devices (which he misplaces and replaces over the years) and a holographic disguise projector, which allows him to sneak behind enemy lines undetected. To add some meta-nerdiness into the mix, Deadpool is also possibly the only Marvel Universe superhuman with an actual, honest-to-Vurt Bag of Holding, where he stores his infinite stockpile of ammo and weapons. Lastly, he is aware of his status as a fictional character and is able to reference his opponent’s weaknesses and his own secret strategies, by reading through other Marvel-series past issues or looking everything he needs through Wikipedia.
Deadpool is also multilingual, with the ability to order a chimichanga in English, German, Sign Language and Spanish.
Deadpool made his first appearance in New Mutants #98 in December of 1991, posing with his signature spandex look and matching industrial-strength katanas, the lovechild of superhero comic book antichrist Rob Liefeld and X-Men veteran Fabian Nicieza. Not much was known about Deadpool’s powers back then, except that he possessed a healing factor on par with Wolverine’s and a raunchier, more tongue-in-cheek attitude than even Spiderman.
Wade Wilson’s origin story has shifted over the years, but it wasn’t until 2010 with the graphic novel Wade Wilson’s War that we found out the Merc With The Mouth’s most concrete origin: born to an abusive father and a mother with a terminal case of cancer, young Wade turned to a life of high-octane delinquency, right up until one of his drinking buddies got his dad killed outside of a bar.
Sobering up from the tragedy, Wade joined the military, dropped out, loved and lost, and was finally diagnosed with cancer. We don’t know what kind of cancer that was, but this being Marvel, we are assuming it’s the worst kind. In order for him to escape his mother’s fate, Wade signed up for Weapon X, the legendary project which decked out Wolverine with his signature adamantium bling.
After being infused with Wolverine’s power, however, Wade’s cancer became impossibly aggressive, going so far as to infest every cell in his body, disfiguring him and making him… unhinged, which gave him the trademark “voices” and the unpredictable demeanor we’ve come to know and love. Deadpool’s origin sure as heck sounds tragic, but wouldn’t you know it, we’re not being paid by the tragedy, damnit!
WADE WILSON: BEHIND THE LAUGHTER
Some of you might be wondering: just where the heck did the name “Deadpool” come from? Short answer: death row inside joke. Long answer: Wade’s buddies kept betting that he wouldn’t make it through the torturous experiments he was put through following his relocation and supposed recovery from turning into cancer. He won every bet (and most of his buddies didn’t), which is how the name stuck.
Deadpool’s signature comedic style is kind of like every other Marvel superpower; sure, it’s cool, but it is still somehow always tragic. One of the more recognizable comedic aspects of the character are his “text boxes,” which the Deadpool videogame adaptation by High Moon Studios cemented as actual contradictory voices in his head. Invented by Daniel Way and implemented during his 63-issue run of Deadpool, Volume 2, the voices have since been used to:
- Crack meta-related jokes about the Marvel Universe
- Communicate editorial comments
- Actually be explained as horrifying manifestations of the cancer eating away at Deadpool’s being, slowly taking him apart inch by inch… but hey, at least he’s got a love life. Kinda.
THE LOVES AND LIES OF DEADPOOL
He’s got style, he’s got flair, he’s got a tragic past and a skin-tight suit to show off them abs. It’s only natural that Wade’s love life would be a mess. But the ones that stand out most are…
Vanessa Carlysle (AKA Copycat):
Once a prostitute fresh off the streets of Boston, she was Deadpool’s first great love during his early days, when they both dreamt his blood money might buy them a little house somewhere that’s green. After Wade made a mess of things with Blind Al, she was forced to go into hiding, only for her to get later experimented on by the Weapon X program and then made a target by the Merc With The Mouth.
A spin-off character that stuck, she was the daughter of a small business owner in New York, whom Deadpool met during a time-travel stint. Their love blossomed up until the point when Wade took off his mask and the woman ran away, but at that point, she had already borne his daughter, Eleanor Camacho. Cue the soap opera trills.
Seasoned Marvel fans know Death. Not just as a constant in our Universe and a revolving door in comic books, but also as Thanos’ closet waifu. Having met her during his constant near-death experiences, Deadpool has managed to charm the wispy latex off her oddly-shapely body and aches to be with her properly. Except, you know, he can’t die. So there’s that.
THE MANY JOBS OF DEADPOOL
During his prolific career as a gun-for-hire, Deadpool has been a hitman, an impromptu New Mutants member, a bounty hunter, a replacement supervillain in a case of mistaken identity, and then there’s that one time he was mistakenly prophesied to be the savior of the Universe. Of course he couldn’t keep any of these jobs, but some of them changed his character arc forever…
Member of the X-Force:
A member of Wolverine’s secret mutant team, Deadpool made it in as an emergency member, mostly by tugging at Wolverine’s heartstrings over the Weapon-X program debacle. During that time, Deadpool helped the team on their way to finally reach and eliminate Apocalypse and was revealed to be much like the humble onion, his try-hard layers hiding a tender person who just wants to be needed. He was out of the team as soon as Cyclops got wind of it, though.
Time-travel Spiderman stand-in:
Trapped in a back issue of Spider-Man, Deadpool and his best friend/hostage are caught in the middle of one of Peter Parker’s original run-ins with Kraven the Hunter. Tip-toeing his way around a retcon, Deadpool finds himself caught in the middle of stock frames, poor background art and finally saves the day, right before he forever screws up the Marvel Universe.
Genetic WMD for the North Korean regime:
In Gerry Dugan’s storyline The Good, The Bad And The Ugly, Deadpool teams up with Captain America and Wolverine, heroically putting himself in the line of fire for their sakes, after joining them in a three-man invasion of North Korea. Apparently, someone was using Wade’s organs to clone unstable, poor imitations of the X-Men as soldiers in a coming meta-human war. This was also the first time where we see Deadpool abandon his devil-may-care façade for the sake of other superheroes, only to save their lives. Which kind of happened already, except no one paid attention… read on for more spiffy info!
Savior of free will in the Universe:
Mistakenly labeled as the legendary Mithras by a multiversal corporation, Deadpool’s very own run began with him dodging the prophecy that he was destined to bring universal peace by slaying a star-beast known as Tiamat. This being the Marvel Universe of the 1990s, of course, it turned out that Tiamat was just a nice guy with scales and a stellar behemoth for a mount, out to stop an eldritch horror out to eliminate the individuality of all living things. Much to his dismay, Wade let Tiamat stop it, only to realize that hey, being able to do whatever you want isn’t always a good thing.
Wade may have had it rough, career-wise, but at least his weary travels have gotten him introduced to a whole lot of very interesting people. Let’s call this section…
THE MAGICAL FRIENDS (AND ONE HOSTAGE) OF DEADPOOL
Cable (AKA Nathan Summers):
A doomed future’s most powerful mutant, Cable came back to the past of Earth-616 to stop the viral apocalypse that destroyed his world and finally stuck around, becoming the founder of X-Force. Being the lovechild of the Liefeld/Nicieza team, he shared the raggedy black-ops ’90s chic and Deadpool’s original fetish for pouches, as well as a ridiculously ill-defined set of superpowers. After saving the world, blowing crap up left and right, and engineering his own birth, Cable finally realized that he lacked any real-world skills to survive in our present and crashed with Wade in the 50-issue series Cable & Deadpool. Together, they hold their ground against such threats as The One World Church (a conglomeration of super-mutants who want to turn everyone blue; don’t laugh), discover the true meaning of friendship by vowing to create a New World Order (it doesn’t go well), travel across dimensions in a vain attempt to resurrect each other (and possess some babies in the process; the entire thing is waaaay darker than it seems, if you think about it) and finally put an end to a herd of symbiote-infested dinosaurs that attack New York city, before finally deciding to go their own ways. Cable is currently re-living his early years inside a borrowed body from an alternate reality and possibly picking up some kind of useful skill, so he won’t keep trying to stir up crap with every single world leader at the same time anytime soon.
Born Jack Hammer (apparently his parents hated him), Weasel had his life brought to a screeching halt by Deadpool when he went back in time and was Spider-Man for a while (see above). With a head for super-science but no career prospects, Weasel soon turned to a life of crime, arming Deadpool with the teleporting gadgets and the ridonculous amounts of guns he needed. During their decades-long friendship, Weasel has abandoned Wade for being an utter weirdo, has nursed a resurrected Deadpool back to full health, and has finally abandoned him to join a supervillain team. He is currently dead, but we are not ruling out a resurrection.
Bob, Agent of HYDRA:
Deadpool’s second-longest running Stockholm-Syndrome sidekick, Bob is a very small fish in a very big sea. Pushed to pursue a career in applied metahuman terrorism after being taunted by his wife Allison, Bob always blamed his loose allegiance to the organization to their lack of providing a dental plan. After being taken hostage by Deadpool, forced to breach security, and steal a getaway jet he didn’t know how to fly, Bob was fired from his last job and made an honorary Agent-X member. Together, they have traveled into the past to help Captain America and Bucky, traveled across dimensions to patch up the torn fabric of the Universe, and have uncovered the awful Skrull secret that put an end to the Secret Invasion. While Bob has never offered Deadpool the kind of tech-magic and dakka that the superhero needs, he has always served as his “lucky sidekick,” pulling him out of the terrible, stupid situations he’s always found himself in. Last time we saw Bob, he had gotten scurvy and heat-stroke while trying to play pirates with Deadpool. We wish him a swift recovery and accidental superpowers.
Originally a British secret agent by the name of Althea, Blind Al was Deadpool’s first black-ops mess-up, which led to him breaking up with Vanessa Carlysle. After running into her in her old, infirm age, Deadpool managed to lock her up in his house in the middle of a maze of death-traps; she slowly let the Stockholm Syndrome set in, accepting her role as Wade’s unwilling mentor. A subtle, Yoda-like influence, she stood up to the Merc when he would begin to act like a bully, eased him out of his homicidal phase, and then slowly ebbed out of existence. She has not been seen since.
Alright, so now you know about Deadpool’s specifics, but what are the most important Deadpool stories? Well, get ready to impress your nerd-friends with crap-tons of trivia boys and girls, because here come…
DEADPOOL’S MOST IMPORTANTEST MOMENTS:
The one where you see Wade’s face for the first time ever (and immediately regret it):
Titled Deadpool: Sins of the Past, it is the canonical origin story, where the reader gets to find out about Department K (Weapon-X’s Canadian branch), see how Wade got screwed over by Wolverine’s superpowers, discover his methodical torture, and witness his early romance with Death.
The one where Deadpool makes 4th-wall-breaking a thing:
Originally intended as a joke, Deadpool #0 has Deadpool turning to the reader before they reveal the answer to the issue’s mystery, while going so far ahead as to check the remaining page count for the issue. This was the exact point where Deadpool slowly began to slough off his gritty personality, growing into the violent-yet-zany curmudgeon we’ve come to know and recognize.
The one where Deadpool realizes he’s a comic book character:
Remember how in Grant Morisson’s Animal Man run, half the old DC Universe lost their minds when they realized they were fictional characters? Well the Marvel Universe people don’t give that much of a damn. In Deadpool #28, Wade casually lets Bullseye know that they met back in issue 16 and no one really seems to care. Eh, one man’s existential horror is another’s throwaway gag.
The one where Deadpool is confirmed for a possible schizophrenic:
The white boxes of internal text have been a point of contention for Deadpool readers (most of Wade’s internal and external speech is capsuled in yellow background). Some think it’s a burden on the character, in a vain attempt to wring a schizophrenia joke out of the mess that is Wade Wilson. Others theorize it’s an editorial butt-in or just another aspect of its 4th-wall breaking powers. Whichever one it may be, it made its appearance in Wolverine Origins #21 and it’s stuck.
The one where Deadpool goes all Rule 63:
“For any given male character, there is a female version of that character.” ~Urban Dictionary. Deadpool first began to hop through the Marvel Multiverse in earnest in Deadpool: Merc With A Mouth #17, one of his most acclaimed issues. This began the grand tradition of Deadpool reimaginings by different authors, what with the character’s debut appearance of Earths 6466 & 3010, respectively inhabited by tentative eye-candy Lady Deadpool and awkward authority figure Major Deadpool, Director of SHIELD.
The one where Deadpool is finally unhinged:
Deadpool #900 was the anti-hero’s milestone issue. Penned by a score of authors and artists, Wade traverses time, space, dimensions, gets himself into no end of trouble and reveals his loves and his one true origin, only for most of it to be mostly made irrelevant by the end.
The one where Deadpool finally dies:
You’d think Deadpool #250 was a weird number, what with #900 out barely a few years before it. Well, it turns out that #250 was the final number of all collected Deadpool-only issues and it was a good number to end things on. After being deprived of his immortality, Deadpool joins the Secret War event, goes up against alternate-universe supervillains, and then finally perishes in the orgiastic universal collision event. His final gripe is, of course, that they should have kept it contained in the Avengers storyline. We can’t help but agree.
PHEW, THAT WAS A DOOZY!
Yeah, but now you know pretty much all you need to know about the Merc With The Mouth. Now you can impress people with your knowledge of his secret origin, feel secretly bad for laughing at his movie hijinks in light of his tragic past, and have a half-hearted pissing contest with your more informed nerd-friends!
Also, you can use it to annoy people that are definitely going to be fiddling with their smartphones during the premiere. That’s always a plus, in our book.