When Deadpool premiered on February 12, 2016, it changed conventional comic book movie wisdom. It proved a hard-R rated superhero movie could perform just as well as a PG-13 crowd pleaser. It proved that yes, Ryan Reynolds could be successful playing a superhero, and it made a cult favorite character among comic book geeks into a household name.
We're not just talking about Wade Wilson, here. There's another character who, despite a relatively small role, managed to make a big impression. That would be actress' Brianna Hildebrand's well-received performance as the epically named mutant Negasonic Teenage Warhead, who along with Colossus, aided Deadpool in saving his girlfriend and gaining revenge on his enemies.
The character was the perfect foil to Wilson--an insular teenager (described by Deadpool as "all about long sullen silences, followed by mean comments and then more silences") who just needed the right amount of needling to unleash her telekinetic detonations.
It also made many moviegoers curious about the character, who's returning in Deadpool 2. What were her comic book origins? What's with her name? And how did she first join the X-Men?
The truth is she's had a history as odd as her moniker, all of which we're about to reveal with 20 Crazy Things Only True Fans Know About Negasonic Teenage Warhead.
20 The Source of her name
Writer Grant Morrison created Negasonic Teenage Warhead, naming his character after a song of the same name by Monster Magnet, a New Jersey rock act best known for their 1998 hit Space Lord.
The song "Negasonic Teenage Warhead" wasn't a hit, but Morrison was a huge fan of Monster Magnet's far-out (and very comic book inspired) sound, resulting in a wonderful moment of pop culture serendipity.
Band frontman Dave Wyndorf discussed how thrilled he was when he learned of the connection, saying in an interview that "Grant Morrison, writer, really cool guy, talented guy I’m happy to say. I’m a huge fan of him. All of a sudden, just drops it, names of these X-Men characters after “Negasonic Teenage Warhead!” I completely flipped out. Best feeling in the world, one of those ‘boy, I’m glad I do this.’
He added that "All of a sudden, all this work that you do and all this love you put into something gets affirmed in a way that… I can’t describe how cool that is. The feeling of ‘wow, somebody thought this was cool the way I thought it was cool, this is great!’
Many hardcore fans hoped to have heard the song in the original film's soundtrack, but no such luck. Maybe it’ll get its due in the sequel.
19 She Was Included In The Film Because Of Her Name
Many hardcore X-Men fans were mystified that such an obscure character had such a major role in Deadpool, leading to speculation about why she was included in the finished film. According to the film's director Tim Miller, it's all in the name, which was so over-the-top that it instantly fit into his warped vision.
In the aforementioned interview with Empire, Miller said "I mean, we chose her because we wanted a trainee for Colossus in the film and the writers and I just fell in love with her name. It’s just so out there and so Deadpool and it was Grant Morrison who named her, so we knew we had to get her in there."
The fact that Miller chose the superpowered mutant based on her name alone helps to further informs why the character was so different onscreen than she appeared in the comics, even though she’s just odd enough to honor the quirky spirit of the Scottish scribe who gave her life.
We should caution that not everyone is a fan of Negasonic Teenage Warhead’s moniker. In fact, some folks really hated it, which we’ll discuss in detail shortly.
18 Even the X-Men make fun of her name
While Grant Morrison, Tim Miller, and the members of Monster Magnet are all obviously very fond of the name Negasonic Teenage Warhead, it didn’t wow everyone.
Not all comic book fans have been as forgiving of the code name for Ellie Phimister. In fact if you peruse any number of "worst superhero names" lists on the internet, the odds are very, very good that the character's name will be high up in the ranks.
It's entirely understandable that it might rub some the wrong way, but Morrison has always had a sense of the absurd. He was visionary enough to realize how such an oversized, ridiculous name was absolutely perfectly suited for a character that was originally only intended as somewhat of a joke, given she died in her first ever appearance.
Indeed, the writer even hinted in the issue featuring her début that she clearly had an intentionally humorous, quirky and nonsensical name.
Kitty Pride said "wow we really have run out of names," after Emma Frost revealed the identity of the character while the two were in conflict.
In the end, the polarizing name paid off: it made the character impossible to forget, paving the way for multiple resurrections and a big screen début.
17 She First Appeared In New X-Men #115
Negasonic Teenage Warhead (real name Ellie Phimister) first appeared in the pages of New X-Men #115 all the way back in 2001. She was just one more eccentric puzzle piece in writer Grant Morrison's surreal and unhinged take on Marvel's popular mutant group that felt particularly appropriate for such a fraught beginning to the 21st century.
Morrison's vision was quite different from other iterations of X-Men creators in the past-- less soap opera in scope, and more concerned with honing in on the science fiction elements with psychedelic flourishes that fueled Stan Lee’s creativity when he came up with the original team of merry mutants back in the early 1960s.
This led to the writer allowing his inventive imagination to go into overdrive-- creating original characters like Fantomex, Cassandra Nova, and Xorn, aided by the late artist Frank Quitely's appropriately quirky drawing style.
It was this free-flowing crazy-quilt aesthetic that allowed Charles Xavier’s School for Gifted Mutants to go in any direction the writer felt like, at any given time.
All this resulted in one unique mutant named after an obscure rock song, who managed to loser her life in the very same issue in which she debuted.
16 She's From the mutant island Genosha
Negasonic Teenage Warhead was a resident of the (fictional) island nation of Genosha, which boasted a mutant-heavy population. Because of this the country (and its back story) has factored heavily into X-Men mythology.
Genosha was one of the most wealthy nations on Earth, but it became that way through unsavory means: it used the powers of its mutant citizens as slave labor. After a government imposed test revealed any hint of a mutation, that person was stripped of their rights and forced into servitude.
It was there where Negasonic Teenage Warhead first enrolled as a student in Emma Frosts's telepathy class. During one of her earliest classes with Frost, she revealed both the frightening range of her powers as well as some deep-rooted angst and psychological trauma. She was haunted by a recurring dream in which she and all her fellow Genoshan citizens were destroyed by a mass extermination of undetermined origin.
It turned out this repetitive nightmare wasn’t to be taken lightly. It was revealed instead to be a lethal and tragic prophecy of annihilation, because shortly after Phimister revealed her dark vision, the evil mutant (and sister of Charles Xavier) Cassandra Nova arrived, with her Wild Sentinels at her side.
15 She Predicted Her Own Passing
After Nova and her Wild Sentinels arrived on the island nation of Genosha, they went on a rampage. They spared no one in their path, resulting in a truly chilling and staggering display of destruction.
While their attack didn't match the obscene body count of the Dark Phoenix saga (where the being formerly known as Jean Grey took billions of innocent lives in a heartless act), it was one of the more apocalyptic displays of power in X-Men history.
In the end, Nova and her army’s campaign of terror was Negasonic Teenage Warhead's nightmare come to life in all its grisly glory. All told, they wiped up quite the body count. When the dust settled, it was revealed that a total of sixteen million people had lost their lives.
This had another notable impact, as Genosha was the home of so many mutants. This meant that over half of the Earth's mutant population were now eliminated. An entire nation's populace was no more, and only one survivor (who we'll discuss in our next entry) was spared.
Negasonic Teenage Warhead was, just like in her dream, one of the victims.
However, she was too cool (and too weird) of a character to stay gone for very long.
14 Emma Frost Was The Loss of Negasonic
Emma Frost didn't handle the death of her pupil very well. In fact, the sudden, cruel passing of Negasonic Teenage Warhead affected her deeply, which surprised those who tend to view her as a cold and cruel taskmaster.
Frost, who survived the attack on Genosha thanks to her secondary mutation which turns her skin into diamond form, carried her student's lifeless body until she found a found a rescue team (including X-Men members Beast and Jean Grey).
Frost ordered them be bring her back to life, but all of their desperate efforts at reviving Negasonic Teenage Warhead failed.
Frost, after declaring her fallen pupil to be a credit to her family and the mutant race, suffered a nervous breakdown.
Frost would later attack the X-Men with what appeared to be a resurrected Warhead. The two were now members of the Hellfire Club, joined by Cassandra Nova, Sebastian Shaw, and Perfection.
During the battle, which occurred in the same issue where Pryde joked about her name, it was revealed that the newly revived Negasonic Teenage Warhead was actually just an illusion-- a projection from Frost's mind born of her survivor's guilt. Her true rebirth wouldn't occur until later-- which we'll discuss in detail next.
13 She’s Been Resurrected Many Times
When a superhero loses their life, it's rarely forever. It's one of the weird rules of comics. Sure, taking out a character in a dramatic way helps sell books and ups the dramatic stakes, but if the character is cool enough, memorable enough, and weird enough, odds are they'll be back. Negasonic Teenage Warrior is no exception to this time-honored tradition.
The first instance of course, we just described-- and many would say her return as a hallucination was a bit of a cheat. She was later brought back in the events of Necrosha, resurrected by the Transmode Virus, which can turn organic material into a techno-organic hybrid.
Though the second resurrection was genuine, things didn't end well for Negasonic Teenage Warhead at that time. So she was brought back later with a much different appearance: a cropped haircut and more natural complexion rather than the full-on goth look. Of course, she now looks more similar to the version portrayed by Hildebrand in the Deadpool films.
What's more, one time Negasonic Teenage Warhead met another version of herself, which is super weird but a time-honored comics tradition - which makes it so very Negasonic Teenage Warhead, if you know what we mean.
12 She was Sacrificed To Selene, The Black Queen
As previously mentioned, Negasonic Teenage Warhead was resurrected during the Necrosha storyline via the Transmode Virus. But who, you may ask, put that unsettling plan into motion in the first place?
That would be the supervillains Eli Bard and Selene, the Black Queen, who resurrected her with all the other lost Genoshan mutants to enact their evil scheme.
The plan was as audacious as it was macabre-- to use the rejuvenated citizens as a zombified mutant horde to both attack the X-men and to achieve Selene’s grandiose dream of becoming a living goddess.
However, Selene's plan is revealed to be deeply flawed when she learns that many of the resurrected Genoshans no longer could use their mutant powers. She also discovered that one formerly resurrected isn't under her spell--our wonderful weirdo Ellie Phinster. Selene realizes Negasonic isn’t under her control when she refused to divulge her real name upon being asked.
Ellie, like all the other formerly slain Genoshan mutants, would suffer the indignity of losing her life all over again when Selene absorbed all their souls to help obtain more power. In the end, Selene’s scheme both succeeded and failed. While she did become a goddess, she was taken out shortly afterwards by Warpath, bringing her reign of terror to an end.
11 Her Powers are completely different in the movies
While the cinematic incarnation of Negasonic Teenage Warhead shares the same name as a Marvel Comics character, her superpowers are quite different.
In the comics, her mutant powers are telepathic in nature. She's also able to experience psychic visions of the future, such as the Genosha destructive event. In the films, her powers are more physically demonstrative and destructive, which, oddly enough, fit her name far better than her origin powers.
Director Tim Miller told Empire that "we thought, well, we’re going to need to make her powers fit with who she feels like she is in the movie...it wasn’t just a simple, ‘oh, I can explode’, she can transfer the force of the explosion down so she can move upwards - she can put it into a punch if she wanted to.”
Screenwriter Rhett Reese elaborated on this, saying “just the sound of the name - 'Warhead' - implies to us that she could kind of become a human bomb, and we ran with that. There will be a few people offended by that, but she wasn’t a major enough character that I think we won’t piss too many people off.”
If anyone is wondering why she was changed so radically from her comic book iteration, it works out to a bizarre studio compromise.
10 She Also Looks Different Onscreen Than In The Comics
In addition to a different skill-set, Negasonic Teenage Warhead looks considerably different on film that her original comic look. In her first appearance she represented the Goth Rock aesthetic - something Morrison was familiar with, given he grew up in Britain, where the subculture originated during the late '70s.
Concept artist Joshua James Shaw described his design on his website, in addition to his notes on bringing Deadpool’s costume to life onscreen. While he initially replicated the original vision of the character, Miller wanted a different look, more in line with how she appeared in the New Mutants series, looking more punk rock than goth in the final iteration.
“It turns out I was going overboard with the goth look for NTW and Tim wanted us to do a pass of her in a suit close to what Josh Middleton designed for his New Mutant covers,” Shaw wrote, adding “Then the costume department would put together something over the suit to give her the goth look. I’ve learned over the years that some directors care about the source material, and you can guess which ones don’t. Fun Fact: Tim goes to the comic store just about every week and leaves with a PILE of comics!”
9 Fox traded Ego the Living Planet for Negasonic Teenage Warhead
One would think, given Negasonic Teenage Warhead's relative obscurity, that securing her rights for a Deadpool cameo would have been fairly simple-- but even acquiring the use of an oddball intellectual property came with strings attached for 21st Century Fox.
When the film's creative team approached Marvel with the request, and with their ideas for radically changing the character, a bargain was struck.
Marvel would allow Fox to put her in the film, as long as Fox gave up something to Marvel.
"It was the one thing we needed Marvel’s actual approval on, that they had to reach out for" said Deadpool's co-writer Paul Wernick, because "Tim [Miller, the director] has a relationship with [Marvel President] Kevin Feige and I think he went straight to Kevin because all the lawyers, you know, it gets messy with the lawyers."
In exchange, Fox would allow Marvel Studios the use of Ego the Living Planet in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (played by Kurt Russell) as Fox has the cinematic rights to that character, given that Ego was included in the deal that gave them license to both the X-Men and Fantastic Four franchises.
In the end, things worked out for both parties, as both characters were warmly received in their respective films.
Fun fact: Monster Magnet has a song called "Ego The Living Planet", too.
8 She Can Alter Reality On A Quantum Level
One of Negasonic Teenage Warhead's most impressive powers is the ability to change the world around us with ease. She can reshape reality in whichever way she pleases.
She's demonstrated this in the comics on various occasions, from creating her own clothes to designing her own house out of nothing more than her imagination.
Basically, if she thinks it, she can make it. Which makes her pretty damn unstoppable, given the seemingly endless options such an ability provides.
One of the most dramatic displays of this power almost happened when the character - or at least one version of her - was tempted to transform the Terrigen cloud from its normal composition, which was toxic to mutants. She could have easily rendered it a harmless body of vapor--but she didn't, though she had a good reason.
It would be great if Negasonic Teenage Warhead got to display this power in the Deadpool sequel. It would certainly be easy enough to pull off with CGI technology, and allow for a more diverse array of her abilities to be shown on-screen.
Let's hope that she’ll be doing some reality warping on screen at some point, and that Wade Wilson will have some pretty funny comments about it too.
7 She Is A Precog
Negasonic Teenage Warhead's ability to predict her own passing during the Genoshan attack revealed one of her most staggering mutant abilities-- precognition.
This ability to foresee catastrophic events has taken a psychic toll on the character, helping to explain her moody, unstable, and angst-ridden personality - not unlike the similarly distraught Agatha Lively, played by Samantha Morton in the film Minority Report.
Luckily, not all of Negasonic Teenage Warhead’s premonitions are so depressing and distressing, however. Sometimes they're simply informative, like when she learned that Kitty Pryde lost her phasing ability in the pages of Astonishing X-men Vol. 3 #15.
In many instances, her powerful precognition skills can be both useful and reassuring, such as when she foresaw the demise of Selene's army and her mad plan, and was able to outmaneuver Deadpool and his team of assassins in the Deadpool and the Mercs For Money comic book series.
Ellie Phinster's precognition abilities would be yet another fun and dynamic superpower to explore in Deadpool 2, but we'll just have to wait and see if she gets to use those formidable skills in the film - unless we have a prophetic dream that lets us know before we watch it, of course.
6 She Can Travel Through Time
It may be entirely fitting that someone with as long-winded and baffling a name as Negasonic Teenage Warhead should be equipped with an equally exhausting list of amazing superpowers that are so vast they’re hard to even fathom. Another of Ellie Phinster's beyond impressive mutant abilities allows her to do something as mind-boggling as traveling through time.
While the full extent of Negasonic Teenage Warhead's time travel capabilities have yet to be fully explored in the comics (and as of yet, have never been explored on film), we do have one crazy instance when it came in handy to avoiding a massive catastrophe.
Remember when we discussed how there was an alternate version of Ellie Phinster a while back? Well, that version of herself actually exists in the future. She traveled all the way back in time to find the iteration of her character that we've become (sort of) familiar with, to warn her about the dangers of changing the elements of the Terrigen cloud using those aforementioned reality-warping abilities. That's why Ellie Phinster didn't change the contents of the Terrigen cloud.
Why did her future self warn her past self to not stop a cataclysmic event? Because it would lead to a war against mutants that would inflict even more mutant casualties.
5 She Protected Deadpool’s Daughter
Thanks to the excellent chemistry between Deadpool and Negasonic Teenage Warhead on screen, it's unsurprising that Marvel Comics attempted to replicate their dysfunctional relationship in the pages of Deadpool and the Mercs for Money series.
Like the film, the two didn't get off to the best of starts. She was targeted by Deadpool and his assassin clan for elimination. This led her to use those previously mentioned precognition skills to outsmart and beat all of his teammates.
Realizing that he was outmatched, Wade Wilson attempted to negotiate with her and begin working together, which she reluctantly agreed to. She used her powers to predict how bad things would get when they worked together to take down the villain The Presence.
Later, during the M-Pox crisis (which is where the Terrigen Cloud event transpired), Ellie looked after Deadpool's daughter Ellie Camacho until the crisis was over.
It was just one more example of the strange family dynamic they share.
This begs the question-- will we ever see Wade Wilson's daughter on-screen? It would be an interesting development for sure, but given she was born to someone other than his girlfriend Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), it would either require a rewrite or a moment of indefinitely.
4 X-Men Crossover: Storm and Negasonic
While actress Brianna Hildebrand's has now been affiliated with two films associated with the X-Men cinematic universe, she's also appeared in an unrelated, non-comic book film with an X-Men alumnus.
That would be Tragedy Girls, a 2017 horror comedy co-starring Alexandra Shipp (who played the mutant storm in Bryan Singer's 2016 film X-Men Apocalypse).
While seeing the two together on-screen (playing a pair of serial killer cheerleaders) may make many X-Men fans excited about potentially seeing them join forces in a future X-Men or aDeadpool movie, don't get your hopes up. Given that Shipp’s franchise has a family friendly PG-13 rating, seeing them cross paths in the hard-R world of Deadpool might make studio execs nervous.
But, fans of the actresses' on screen chemistry may be rewarded with a sequel to Tragedy Girls, which both Hildebrand and Shipp are hoping to get in development.
The two discussed their own ideas for a sequel in a spirited 2017 interview with Screen Rant. Hildebrand hinted that one plot-line might see the two characters headed to higher education “There was a lot of talk about Tragedy Girls at College, when we were filming,” while Shipp pondered “What if they went on a Eurotrip?"
3 Muay Thai and Dance Lessons
While her character's powers are largely achieved by CGI, Brianna Hildebrand also did physical training for the role, as it was her first appearance in a blockbuster action film. Just as Deadpool leading man Ryan Reynolds had to get into superhuman shape to prepare for the part, Hildebrand felt she should strive for an enhanced physical presence as well.
That’s not to say she was averse to physical training, as she revealed in an interview with Collider, discussing her previous background as a dancer: "I trained in Muay Thai for a few months before I got out here, because I was a dancer before but I had never done any kind of fighting so I was like I should probably look like I can kick someone’s ass,” she said, adding that “I’ve done a lot of boxing, which I really enjoy, but that’s really the training that I did, and a lot of sprinting because she runs at things."
She expanded on her training in an interview with Boca Mag, adding that "It was difficult to begin with, just because I didn’t really have any athletic background... so learning to throw punches was kind of challenging in the beginning. It was therapeutic though. It’s a great stress reliever. If you’re ever super stressed out, you should try Muay-Thai."
2 Brianna Hildebrand Didn't Need A Mutant Makeover
Actress Brianna Hildebrand's attitude and appearance were perfect for her portrayal of Negasonic Teenage Warhead. Her look was so in lockstep with her character's name and skill-set that conventional wisdom would suggest she was given a steady assist by the wardrobe and makeup department.
The actress was already sporting her piercings and shaved head before she even got the role.
Hildebrand told Collider that "I actually already had all of this happening, and when I auditioned I actually had my septum ring flipped up, so they didn’t know I had it, but they saw it in a picture and they were like ‘Oh that’s really cool.’ I’ve had my head shaved for like a year and I’ve had my piercings for like a year. It’s cool that they loved all of it and cool that they could be useful."
Her look became so iconic it even worked its way into the script, such as when Ryan Reynolds says “And you chicken noodle, 'nothing compares to you.' Sinéad O'Connor, 1990. Sorry." "It's all right. You're cool.”
Fittingly for a character with a look straight out of a punk rock or metal band, Hildebrand made a rocking playlist to keep her in character, including the song which bears her character’s name.
1 The Film Has Made The Character More Popular Than Ever
Let's face it, the average moviegoer had no clue who Negasonic Teenage Warhead was before Deadpool came out. It revived one of the least definable, most mysterious, weirdest-named superhero. She was best known beforehand for having a goofy codename and for losing her life a lot. Negasonic's come a long way since then.
It's certainly why she was resurrected for the popular 2016-2017 Marvel Comics series Deadpool and the Mercs for Money. And why she was brought back for the highly anticipated sequel. So the question is, what can we expect from her in Deadpool2?
We know she's got a brand new spooky haircut (and an updated uniform) but her evolution goes beyond that, according to Stefan Kapicic, who plays Colossus in the film: "She's progressing, as you can see. She is not my trainee anymore. She definitely has approached the new level of X-Men, as you can see. Even the haircut, all of the characters - the good thing is we have upgraded on so many levels."
One thing that shouldn't change is her surly, bratty, get-out-of-my-face teenage outsider attitude, which makes her a perfect target for Wade Wilson's hilarious one-liners and pop culture observations. At this rate, we're hoping it's only a matter of time until she gets her own movie.
Do you have any other trivia to share about Deadpool's Negasonic Teenage Warhead? Tell us in the comments!