The Firefist of Deadpool 2 is very different to the Russell Collins comic book readers will be familiar with. Many Marvel fans argue that superhero movies should be "comic book accurate," and the overall tone and style of the Deadpool films is about as close to the books as it's possible to be. But when it comes to the characters, the Deadpool movies aren't afraid to switch things up.
Take the character of Negasonic Teenage Warhead. In the comics, she's a precognitive Goth. In the two Deadpool films, she's a mutant who generates a powerful biokinetic field around herself, and she's pretty much the ultimate badass. Or take Deadpool 2's Yukio, so dissimilar to the agile cat-burglar of X-Men comic lore that she might actually be an entirely different character who has the same name.
Russell "Rusty" Collins, a.k.a. Firefist, is another good example. The powerset is similar, with Russell manipulating heat and flame (although the comic book version manifested fire from his head and hair as well as his hands). Just as in the comics, the Russell of Deadpool 2 is powerful enough to trigger spontaneous combustion in objects around him and can control those flames with his mind. The abilities are clearly recognizable. But that's about it; Deadpool 2 has completely redesigned Firefist's personality, appearance, and origin story.
The Two Different Versions of Russell Collins
Deadpool 2's version of Firefist is played by Julian Dennison, a New Zealand actor who's best known as Ricky in Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Visually, he bears absolutely no resemblance to the thin, pale-skinned and blond-haired mutant from the comics. Where artists typically portrayed Russell as focused and determined, Dennison chooses to portray Russell in a very different way. The Russell of Deadpool 2 is a surly teenager with an almost perpetual scowl on his face. One subtle similarity is the fact that both Russells are really looking for a place to belong, and don't always show good judgment in who they turn to; the comic book version actually became a member of Magneto's Acolytes for a time.
Crucially, while both Russells are victims of prejudice, it manifests in radically different backstories. The comic book version was introduced in X-Factor #1 as a teenager who had joined the US Navy at age sixteen, but whose powers flared out of control when things became "heated" with an attractive girl. He wound up under arrest and swiftly escaped, going on the run. In contrast, the Deadpool 2 version is a resident at an orphanage for mutant children, suggesting he's been identified as a mutant some time ago. This Russell has essentially been a victim for an unknown period of time, subjected to abuse. The teenager clearly has a deep-rooted desire to find a way to control his life, and has mastered his powers to a remarkable degree. In the film, he seeks to regain dominance by lashing out at those who had abused him. Killing, for this version of Russell, would be the ultimate demonstration of his power and control.
There's a sense in which both Russells fancy themselves as leaders. For the comic book version, his good nature meant people tended to listen to him and respect him. The cinematic version, however, leads out of his insecurity and fear; he tries to dictate the terms of their friendship to Deadpool, and even attempts to do the same with Juggernaut. Amused and liking the idea of trashing an orphanage, Juggernaut agrees to go along with Russell's plan to attack Essex House. He's willing to cut the kid some slack, more out of a sense of amusement rather than a real friendship.
It's fascinating to see how the comics and the movie have handled fairly similar character traits and concepts in such a distinct way. The powers and the codename are the same, but the truth is that these versions of Firefist might as well be two different people. When Deadpool redesigned Negasonic Teenage Warhead, the comics swiftly adapted to follow suit; given the comic book version of Russell was killed off in the '90s, it's doubtful they'll do the same again this time.
- X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019) release date: Jun 07, 2019
- Gambit (2020) release date: Mar 13, 2020
- New Mutants (2019) release date: Aug 02, 2019