Deadpool is finally going to get his first cinematic outing. Sort of. Let’s back up. Deadpool technically made his first appearance on screen in 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Or should I say, a character by the name of Deadpool made an appearance in that movie. But that character was so far removed from the traditional version of the character that it could be (and has been) argued that the version in that movie doesn’t even count.
In fact, Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine was so poorly adapted, it’s been said the Deadpool character in the upcoming movie will exist largely in response to the previous failure. Some theories even say that the bad interpretation of Deadpool in Origins could be a nightmare or have some other meta-retcon in the new movie as a way of fixing the numerous missteps of cinematic Deadpool version 1.0.
While riffing or cracking a few jokes in the direction of the previous failure may alleviate the brunt of just how badly the movie flopped for fans, it’d be hard to argue that a retcon could “fix” anything, because this is How X-Men Origins: Wolverine Screwed Up Deadpool
10. The Character That Was Promised Was Not Delivered
Deadpool’s alter ego, Wade Wilson (portrayed by Ryan Reynolds), was introduced fairly early in the movie. Wade’s general demeanor was actually fairly true to the source material. He was a wise-cracking disrespectful assassin with crazy fast reflexes. He hadn’t yet become Deadpool, but the foundation was clearly there. The writers demonstrated a solid understanding of what the character was meant to embody.
Then they swiftly stabbed the fans in the back. Deadpool’s classic appearance, skills, and personality were all completely tossed out the window for something else entirely. He was turned into a completely unrecognizable and completely boring bad guy, leaving fans bewildered and confused. How could they be so close to getting it right, yet be so wrong that the character barely even resembled his namesake? It might have hurt less if his appearance earlier in the movie hadn’t been so promising.
9. The Classic Deadpool Costume was Abandoned
Among the numerous ways the Deadpool character was dismembered, the most obvious might be the absence of his classic suit. Normally, suits don’t make the hero, so it’s OK to vary from the classic interpretations. The X-Men franchise had already been doing that for years, so why does Deadpool’s suit matter so much?
Deadpool is the rare example of a character whose super-suit is intrinsically tied to the character himself, and cannot be abandoned. Modified? Sure. The comics do that all the time. But the classic red and black suit, including the mask with white eyes, is necessary, because that’s Deadpool’s actual emblem.
Spider-Man, Batman, Superman, the X-Men, and most other classic comic characters all have emblems that can basically be slapped on a loose interpretation of their costume, and most audiences would agree that it still represents said character. When Deadpool’s actual emblem is his masked face, it’s hard to take the same liberty.
His costume also hides his scars. Deadpool has a lot of love from his fans because of the dichotomy between his scarred visage under the (sometimes) clean outer shell. In the same way that he masks his mental scars with irreverent humor, he masks his physical scars with his suit. The post-Weapon X half of the character was basically a living scar, completely exposed without a suit – a far cry from the core of the character we know from the comics. The complexity of the character himself was reduced to being just another villain in a forgettable movie.
Deadpool also lacked many visual character tells. We know Storm because of her white hair. We know Wolverine because of his hair and claws. Cyclops wears a visor or sunglasses. Take away their spandex, and they are still visually iconic characters. It’s not the same with Deadpool. When his powers and appearance don’t jump off the screen and say “Look, I’m Deadpool,” he becomes just another freaky-looking faceless villain.
8. They Closed the Mouth of The Merc with the Mouth
Deadpool is the Merc with the Mouth. That’s who he is. It’s what he does. We saw a little of that in the Ryan Reynolds portion of the character, but once he makes the transformation to Deadpool – a process that should only make his motor-mouth more apparent – he goes silent. The shift from Wade to Deadpool includes his mouth getting sewn shut, but still – silence?
To be fair, it’s understandable that Stryker would want his mouth sewn up. That makes a lot of sense. It could have even been pretty funny if they included a scene showing the impetus for the silencing stitches. It would have also made sense for Deadpool to cut his own mouth back open during the final fight, or even just constantly mumble incoherently through his fused facehole, as if his snark would be unimpeded by the lack of articulation.
There are a lot of ways in which that exact same plot beat could have been handled in a way that actually improved their interpretation of the character. The problem is, none of those opportunities were seized. In the end, those choices stripped the character of one of his most recognizable traits.
7. They Stole Powers From Cyclops, The Character Least Like Deadpool
Not only did they strip Deadpool of iconic physical traits, they gave him traits he has no business possessing – the most obvious of which is Cyclops’s optic blast. Now, it could be argued that temporarily giving him additional powers isn’t the worst thing in the world. The problem is, they gave him powers that belong to one of the most anti-Deadpool characters possible.
Cyclops is defined as a self-serious team leader. He doesn’t have much patience for humor, and typically doesn’t work alone. He’s basically the antithesis of Deadpool. Alright, so they only gave Deadpool one of his skills. But, they didn’t actually combine the characters! It’s pretty difficult to justify stripping Deadpool of his most iconic abilities, only to give him an ability of another character – especially an ability that is one of the most iconic traits of any comic-book character.
6. His Personality Was Erased With Mind Control
One of the few classic abilities they allowed Deadpool to retain in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, is his healing factor. Deadpool’s healing factor is super strong; it doesn’t only allow him to recover from most any injury, but it also (usually) protects him against mind control. Not this time, though.
This time, Deadpool – the guy that works alone and is immune to mind control – is somehow mind-controlled and working for William Stryker. First, they stripped him of his appearance. Then, they silenced his voice. Now, they’re making him devoid of his own personality.
If it doesn’t look like Deadpool, doesn’t sound like Deadpool, and is mind controlled by another character, so why say it’s Deadpool? He could have been anyone at this point! They could literally re-dub the movie so Stryker calls him by a different name, and no one would have ever known it was Deadpool.
5. It Shattered Continuity
The X-Men franchise has always had an issue with continuity, especially if X-Men Origins: Wolverine is taken into account. One of those issues comes from X2: X-Men United, where Stryker says: “I used used to think you were one of a kind, Wolverine, I was wrong,” in reference to Lady Deathstrike.
So what’s the deal with Deadpool? Stryker has the ability to create Deadpool, so how does that make Wolverine one of a kind, or Deathstrike the exception to that rule? Anyone can now be Deadpool, it’s a wiseass free-for-fall! Not only does that make Deadpool irrelevant, but it also makes X2 and X-Men: The Last Stand irrelevant. Given, X-Men: Days of Future Past took them completely off the map (presumably along with X-Men Origins: Wolverine) by changing the timeline, but that doesn’t make this bumbling about any less of a continuity sin.
4. The Fourth Wall Remained Unbroken
Deadpool’s most iconic trait is probably his frequent breaking of the fourth wall. It’s not used just for comedic effect – it’s a defining characteristic. Much of his personality revolves around his understanding of the fact that he’s in a comic book, and he uses the ability similarly to how another mutant might use clairvoyance. It even permeates his fighting style.
Not that Deadpool needed to utilize this ability in some sort of significant way, but many of the sins in Origins could be washed away with a simple aside along the lines of “You can’t sew my mouth shut. Don’t you know who I am? I’m the Merc with the Mouth!”
Again, even this small inclusion might have saved the writers from whitewashing the original character to unrecognizable oblivion. It’s not the straw that broke the camel’s back – but it IS a straw nonetheless.
3. The Evil Version of the Hero Trope
George R.R. Martin recently pointed out a major flaw in many movie villains.
“I am tired of this Marvel movie trope where the bad guy has the same powers as the hero. The Hulk fought the Abomination, who is just a bad Hulk. Spider-Man fights Venom, who is just a bad Spider-Man. Iron Man fights Ironmonger, a bad Iron Man. Yawn. I want more films where the hero and the villain have wildly different powers. That makes the action much more interesting.”
X-Men Origins: Wolverine falls into this exact trap. At the end of the movie Wolverine fights a brutal villain with a healing factor, blades that retract into his arms, and who was made in a lab by the Weapon X program. What’s crazy about this circumstance, contrary to Martin’s other examples, is that Deadpool wasn’t like that in the source material. Abomination, Venom, and Ironmonger have always had similar powers to the heroes they fight. On the other hand, a Deadpool vs. Wolverine fight (with a more comic accurate depiction of Deadpool) could have presented an excellent contrast of skill vs. brute force, peppered by glib jokes vs. super serious grunting.
2. His Skills Were Converted into Unearned Gifts
Another power added to Deadpool’s repertoire was the ability to teleport. Okay, he has been known to use personal teleporters over the years. The use of this skill isn’t anything new, but it’s the first time it’s been a shown as an innate power. This may not pose a significant change to the abilities traditionally at Deadpool’s disposal, but turning the utilization of an external tool into an inherent genetic trait marginalizes his actual skill in using available resources (tools, weapons, etc.) to supplement his natural abilities.
The same can be said for the retracting katana arms. Deadpool (in the comics) is a highly skilled mercenary who has gained mastery of many styles of tools and weapons, but in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, most of his skills have been removed and replaced by powers thrust upon him by the Weapon X program.
1. He Became the Thing He Was Meant to Parody
Deadpool was originally created as a parody to the super serious action hero. His real name, Wade Wilson, is obviously inspired by DC Comics’ Deathstroke, Slade Wilson, while the Deadpool name comes from the title of the fifth Dirty Harry movie, The Dead Pool. The Merc with the Mouth takes the super seriousness and turns it on its head with his constant irreverent jabber and crude physical humor.
The irony is that X-Men Origins: Wolverine removed all the humor from the character (at least the version in the final act), making him resemble the very thing Deadpool was originally created to parody. It could be argued that the version of Deadpool in Origins is more successful than comic book Deadpool at showing the absurdity of that character archetype, but considering the context, it’d be a pretty big leap to suggest that was the writers’ intent.
It may not be possible to “fix” Deadpool from X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but if the incoming Deadpool movie handles the character the way way X-Men: Days of Future Past handled the original 3 X-Men movies, then maybe it will even slightly redeem X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Or not. I mean, seriously – it was bad.