Copycat has existed in Marvel Comics in some form for roughly the last 27 years, but she hasn’t become one of the biggest names in mutants. Instead, the sometimes villain has remained a supporting player in the stories of Deadpool, Cable, and X-Force since her debut.
Thanks to an increased presence in the live action Deadpool movie, though, there are plenty of fans who want to know more about her.
If the name Copycat doesn’t ring a bell for you, that’s because on the big screen she’s still using her given name instead of her mutant codename: Vanessa Carlysle.
Vanessa became known as Copycat in the comics as a result of a powerset that allowed her to copy the appearance of others.
As a shapeshifter, Vanessa’s powers allow her to do even more than most other mutants with similar skills. Her ability to shapeshift knows almost no bounds. That ability, though, comes with a whole lot of crazy and tragic comic book circumstances.
Despite the kind of power that allows Vanessa to literally become anyone she wants, she has a habit of finding herself in sticky situations.
Whether she’s being kidnapped, used as bait, betraying someone she cares about, or all of the above, her time in the comics has been fraught with one hardship after another.
With Deadpool 2 just around the corner and the character getting another shot on the big screen, we’ve got Vanessa’s backstory covered for you with the 20 Crazy Things You Didn’t Know About Copycat.
20 She's More Powerful Than Mystique
Funnily enough, Copycat shares more than just a power set with the X-Men character Mystique. Both shapeshifters have distinctive blue skin and eye colors that the usual human being wouldn’t have.
When it comes to shapeshifting, though, Copycat has the edge.
Mystique is capable of copying the appearance of human beings (and fellow mutants), but her copy is only skin deep.
Although she can appear to be anyone else, she can’t copy anything outside of their original makeup, giving a limit to what she can do. With Vanessa, there’s almost no limit.
Vanessa can copy the appearance of someone just like Mystique can. When her powers are at full strength though, she even starts doing it involuntarily. Just being around someone for long enough causes Vanessa to begin to shift in small ways. She also can copy something Mystique can’t: abilities.
Most comic book shapeshifters have no way of mimicking powers of the people they copy. Not so for Copycat. She can get right down to the person’s DNA and psychic makeup, allowing her to not only look like them, but virtually become them.
That’s why she was able to fool X-Factor into believing she was Domino for over a year -- she had Domino’s power set as well.
19 Mutant Or Not?
Comic book fans who saw the first live action Deadpool movie will have noticed one big difference between Vanessa Carlysle on screen and Vanessa Carlysle in the comics: she doesn’t have her trademark blue skin.
To be fair, Vanessa doesn’t have blue skin in the comics when she’s busy pretending to be someone else.
So far, though, there’s been no indication that Vanessa has her shapeshifting abilities in the movie other than a line about her “playing many roles” that fans took as a nod to the source material.
Instead, it appears she won’t be a mutant in the movies any time soon.
Writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick had a good reason for not making Vanessa a mutant right off the bat though: they didn’t want every character in the movie to be part of a mutant backstory.
Audiences were already seeing Deadpool’s origin, a pair of X-Men, and villains with mutant abilities in the big fight. It was important for at least a few of the characters to be average human beings who got caught up in the world without making the storyline cluttered and more confusing.
Fans hoping that Vanessa’s mutation will be triggered and she’ll go blue one day can hold on to that though.
Reese and Wernick shared in an interview with Cinemablend that if they’re “afforded the opportunity to move forward,” that seeing Copycat in action is something “worth exploring.”
Fans can just keep looking for clues in Deadpool 2 to see if Vanessa is on the Copycat track.
18 Her Unique Comic Book Debut
With most comic book characters, fans can point to one specific issue where they made their big debut. Vanessa Carlysle is so unique that she has four issues that mark her big debut!
Technically, the first time the character appeared on the page was in New Mutants #98, though you’d be hard pressed to find any evidence of her there. That actually marks the debut of the Marvel character Domino, whom Vanessa pretended to be, a reveal made long after that first appearance.
Her second big debut occurred in X-Force #11. That’s where readers got their first look at Vanessa -- quite literally -- as her name appeared in print for the first time.
Deadpool was sent after Vanessa while she was pretending to be Domino to check on the status of her mission, one which she was actually being blackmailed to complete.
Eight issues later, readers finally got to see what the woman underneath the Domino persona looked like. Once Vanessa’s treachery was found out and the real Domino was back in the picture, Vanessa was forced to leave X-Force behind, and the experience left her shaken.
Finally, her fourth comic book debut saw Vanessa Carlyle become Copycat. She was finally her full self, though she could become anyone she wanted.
In Deadpool: The Circle Chase, Vanessa had the chance to be her own person and choose the path she took.
17 She Was An Unplanned Character
With her strange history of comic book debuts, it’s probably safe to say that Vanessa Carlysle might not have been the original plan for Domino/Copycat.
Her behind the page history makes it all the more difficult to tell just what the original plan was.
When Domino and Deadpool were introduced in the New Mutants comic book following the debut of Cable, Fabian Nicieza was the writer behind the stories.
Nicieza is credited with the creation of several of the characters associated with New Mutants, and later X-Force. He brought Feral, Husk, Garrison Kane, and Weasel to the page. He’s also credited with the creation of Copycat and Domino.
At the time that Domino was introduced, though, Rob Liefeld was the artist, not to mention story plotter, and he was in the process of leaving Marvel Comics behind.
He shares credit for Copycat, Domino, Feral, Garrison Kane, and more with Nicieza. He’s also the person behind Deadpool, Cable, and many of the other big names in Copycat’s early story arc.
The question has lingered with fans as to whether Liefeld plotted out the Copycat reveal, or if it was something Nicieza opted to change while writing the New Mutants book as Liefeld left to pursue other opportunities.
Fans may never know.
16 She Had A Difficult Life
Vanessa might have seen a lot of difficulty in her professional life -- working as a mercenary for a man who continued to blackmail her into jobs she didn’t want -- but her personal life wasn’t exactly sunshine and rainbows either.
Vanessa’s history didn’t get fully revealed until Marvel began putting out “minus” issues that acted as flashbacks for popular character’s. In Deadpool’s Minus 1, fans were finally able to learn more about what made Vanessa Copycat.
When Vanessa first manifested her mutant abilities, her parents were less than pleased. They kicked her out of their house, not wanting to have anything to do with a mutant.
With nowhere else to go, Vanessa became a street worker. Her ability to shapeshift gave her an edge over some of the other women.
That line of work is actually how she crossed paths with the mercenary Wade Wilson, and the two started dating.
It could have been a Pretty Woman fairytale for Vanessa if Wade wasn’t training for an elite program and if he didn’t contract cancer.
Ultimately, the cancer diagnosis set Wade on a new path, just like audiences saw in the Deadpool movie, but Vanessa’s life took an even darker turn in the comics.
She didn’t keep up with her old line of work. Instead, she got into the mercenary life herself, which set her on a collision course with Deadpool and left her with some lasting trauma.
15 She Was Saved By A Time Traveler
When Vanessa and Wade Wilson (who wasn’t yet Deadpool) started dating, there were quite a few people who were interested in where their relationship was headed. Surprisingly, those people weren’t just comic book fans.
The interdimensional firm of Landau, Luckman, and Lake had employees across different realities and timelines. They held assets for dimension hopping customers, had a stake in which heroes survived to stave off an apocalypse, and stationed their employees wherever, and whenever, they believed they’d be able to do the most work.
One of those employees was Zoe Culloden. Zoe happened to be stationed in the time and place where Vanessa and Wade started dating.
Unfortunately for Vanessa, Zoe didn’t think the relationship was good for the future hero. She believed that Wade Wilson was meant for bigger and better things -- Vanessa was just a distraction.
Zoe’s mind was changed when she repeatedly tried to set up situations to make Vanessa angry enough to leave Wade and the young woman never did.
Vanessa and Zoe found themselves on common ground when they were attacked in an alley and had to team up to save their own lives. Zoe saved Vanessa and decided that she was the kind of woman who deserved Wade Wilson.
Of course, because Marvel Comics loves a tragic backstory, Vanessa and Wade didn’t get a happily ever after following the time traveler’s blessing. Instead, Wade left Vanessa when he found out about his cancer diagnosis, got an experimental treatment, and became Deadpool.
14 Some Of Her Abilities Require Touch
If a character has a particularly strong power set, they might not want to get too close to Copycat. A touch allows her to have more access to just what her person of reference can do.
Even though Vanessa can copy someone’s appearance just by knowing what they look like, not every aspect can be copied just based on her knowledge of them.
Sometimes, she has to be a little less casual than just seeing them walk by. In order to become someone right down to psychic patterns and superpowers, Vanessa has to physically touch them.
In case that wasn’t made clear to readers, the Deadpool miniseries The Circle Chase had Deadpool say it outloud.
During the miniseries, Vanessa put herself between a fatal blow and Deadpool to save his life. The two might have had their ups and downs over the years, but she wasn’t about to let him die for no reason (The truth is, she’d probably rather do the job herself.)
Though there were other options to save her life, It was Wade Wilson who tore off part of his Deadpool costume to make sure Vanessa could touch his skin and copy his healing factor, saving her life faster than any of those other options could.
13 She Can Copy Animals
In addition to being able to copy human beings, mutants, and their abilities, Copycat has yet another edge over other shapeshifters. She can also copy animals.
Just which animals she’s had the fun of copying throughout her life is unclear, but in Deadpool #59, when Wade tries to save her from the Weapon X team trying to kill her, the duo end up in a fortuitous location - the Bronx Zoo.
At this time in her life, Vanessa had been given a bit of a power boost by Weapon X, but the boost made it difficult for her to control herself. Though she could change shape quickly, it became harder and harder for her to hold a solid form.
She also started losing her memories. When she wanted out of the program, it was Deadpool who tried to come to her rescue.
While on the run from Garrison Kane, the two found themselves at the Bronx Zoo. Deadpool stashed Vanessa in the gorilla habitat, hoping she could shapeshift and stay safe, while he took on Garrison Kane alone. It was a good plan, and it would have worked just fine, if Kane didn’t have backup.
When Deadpool returned from his fight, he found the gorillas slaughtered by Sabretooth, and Vanessa bleeding out. Even when she shed her human form, Vanessa couldn’t catch a break!
12 She Had A Relationship Garrison Kane
Garrison Kane and Copycat met through their time with Cable. Both were members of his various teams in the comics, and they wound up bonding.
They lived together for a while, trying to live a normal live instead of taking out other people for money.
Kane was a good hand-to-hand fighter, but having both his arms and legs removed in a massive fight sent him to Weapon X for treatment.
Just like Deadpool, Weapon X offered to “fix” Kane, and he wound up with cybernetic limbs and a whole lot of tech in his body. His first major mission with Weapon X was actually hunting Vanessa down because she was a loose end.
Vanessa was no stranger to betrayal, but considering she’d spent years with Kane before that, and he called her “the glue that held his life together,” the hurt cut deeply.
With her powers out of whack when he finally closed in on her, she couldn’t even properly fight him, and it was another ex boyfriend - Deadpool - who defended her.
Some readers were disappointed that Vanessa didn’t get the chance to take Kane out herself, but instead, her pain and frustration were voiced for her by Deadpool during the fight while she fought Sabretooth off panel.
It was just another stepping stone in the tragedy that is the path of Vanessa Carlysle’s life.
11 The Deadpool History
Deadpool pops up in a lot of significant moments in Vanessa’s life. He might have broken her heart when he was still just Wade Wilson, but he also saved her life as Deadpool. The two have also been sent after one another more than once on various missions.
It’s Deadpool who is responsible for revealing to the reader (and the team) that Domino isn’t really Domino a year after she’s introduced in X-Force.
Deadpool, while working for a villain named Tolliver during his mercenary days, is sent to keep Copycat in line specifically because of his history with her. He even carried out her mission of bombing the team when she couldn’t do it.
Following that, Deadpool was sent to take her down, and he didn’t seem to have any problem doing it at the time. Of course, he didn’t really destroy her as she was in hiding as a friend’s “twin,” and Deadpool took down the wrong one.
It was then that she was dating Garrison Kane, but after breaking up with him, she and Deadpool were on good terms, and they moved in together, and even attempted another relationship.
Of course, it wasn’t always Deadpool who was sent after Copycat. At one point, she was hired by Taskmaster to impersonate someone else in an effort to gain Deadpool’s trust. While it appeared like she had the upper hand, he somehow knew it was her the entire time.
It was even Vanessa who recruited Deadpool back into Weapon X.
10 She Spent Some Time In The Microverse
The Microverse is most often associated with heroes in the comics who can shrink themselves down in size (like Ant-Man), or those who spend a lot of their time in the pursuit of science (like the Fantastic Four). Copycat got a taste of the Microverse, even though she doesn’t fall into either of those categories.
The Microverse is actually several tiny parallel universes where shrinking down to a subatomic size is required to enter them. When Copycat entered the Microverse, it wasn’t part of a larger universe hopping story or anything similar.
Instead, she sacrificed herself to keep someone else from being kidnapped.
Psycho-Man had been in town, unbeknownst to many heroes, manipulating people’s emotions so he could feed on them.
His goal was to kidnap Garrison Kane and use his cybernetic enhancements to to conquer other worlds. At the time, Kane and Vanessa were just trying to live a normal life. Instead of allowing Kane to be taken, Vanessa shapeshifted, pretending to be him, and got herself kidnapped instead.
Kane teamed up with former Six Pack and X-Force allies Cable and Domino, along with some of the Micronauts, to get Vanessa back.
The three issue arc in Cable’s solo series didn’t give us a big look into the Microverse, but it did make a step forward in mending the relationship between Copycat and Domino.
The two women finally began to find common ground and stop blaming one another for things that happened in the past.
9 Brotherhood Of Chaos
In the mid '90s, Marvel Comics introduced a new storyline, the Age of Apocalypse, that resulted in a new timeline in the multiverse. In it, Copycat had a new role.
The new timeline began because David Haller, aka Legion, decided to go back in time and take out Magneto. He thought he was making the world a better place.
What he actually ended up doing was destroying his own father Charles Xavier instead. The passing of Professor X, long time leader of the X-Men, created a ripple effect that allowed Apocalypse to come to power ten years earlier, shaking up the comic book world readers knew.
While some of the X-Men characters became opponents of Apocalypse, others joined him and helped him in his quest to take over the world. Copycat was a member of the Brotherhood of Chaos.
The Brotherhood was analogous to the modern continuity's Brotherhood of Mutants. The group was made of mutants who carried out Apocalypse’s dirty work, though they were considered an elite religious sect among Apocalypse’s followers.
Copycat wasn’t referred to be her mutant codename as a result, but as Sister Vanessa.
She spent her time using her abilities to hide amongst those who would oppose Apocalypse to learn their plans. She even shapeshifted and became Scarlet Witch for a while, but she was eventually found out.
8 She Often Meets Her End
If it seems like Vanessa got the short end of the stick in the usual Marvel continuity, the same is true for her alter egos in other realities.
No matter which Vanessa Carlysle readers meet, she always appears to be doomed.
Vanessa has only appeared in two major alternate universes in the Marvel multiverse (so far). One of those is the aforementioned Age of Apocalypse where she was a follower of the villain. There, she shapeshifted into Scarlet Witch to attempt to get close to Quicksilver.
She was exposed by the mutant Dazzler, though, and went on the run. While attempting to hide amongst human refugees, she was hunted down by Jean Grey and Weapon X. Jean Grey made sure Vanessa didn’t make it out alive.
The Age of X storyline premiered in the comics about 15 years after Age of Apocalypse, and it set out to recapture the same spirit amongst readers.
In it, Legion’s abilities actually manifested a completely new reality when his mind reacted to an invasion by another consciousness. The reality was supposed to make him the hero he always hoped to be.
This time around, the X-Men Cannonball created X-Force to protect mutant kind at the urging of his little sister after their entire family was slaughtered. His sister Husk also put an end to Copycat, who was attempting to infiltrate X-Force on her own.
No matter the reality, Vanessa’s infiltration of an opposing force is always eventually found out.
7 Olivia Munn Passed On The Role
When Deadpool was finally on track to the get the solo movie the character deserved, the role of Vanessa Carlysle was a pretty wanted commodity. After all, it was rumored that she’d be around for any sequels as well. Olivia Munn was offered the chance to play the role, but she turned it down.
Instead, Munn opted to invest in the role of Psylocke in the X-Men movies, making her debut in X-Men: Apocalypse.
There was also the added challenge of bringing the character to life with very little dialogue, relying on physical presence to sell the part.
Some fans will argue that Munn made a mistake, but others will say that perhaps she’s playing the long game. Audiences only got a taste of Munn in the role, and there’s sure to be chances for her character to return in more X-Men films.
Morena Baccarin won the role of Vanessa instead. Baccarin was no stranger to comic book projects before taking on the role either.
She voiced the artificial intelligence system Gideon in The Flash and recurred as Dr. Leslie Thompkins on Gotham. She’s also voiced characters like Cheetah and Talia al Ghul for DC animated properties, but Vanessa was her first Marvel character.
6 Deadpool Has Saved Her With His Healing Factor
It seems like every mutant has some sort of accelerated healing ability to get them back on their feet and in the fight in record time. That’s not true for Vanessa, though she can make it true.
Vanessa’s only real ability is her ability to copy other people. As long as she can touch someone with a healing factor though, she can replicate that as well.
Funnily enough, there’s one person whose ability to heal quickly has helped save her both times readers thought she was gone for good.
After Copycat’s duplicity as Domino was discovered, but before she and Kane attempted to live a normal life, she was caught up in the hunt for Tolliver’s will. (Tolliver was the man who “employed” her as Domino for a year, though she would call it blackmail.)
It was then that she crossed the path of the villain Slayback, who passed away and came back to life almost as often as he appeared in comics at all.
He attempted to use Vanessa as bait to lure Deadpool to him a few times, but in this instance, he left her mortally wounded. Vanessa was able to save herself by, instead of completely shapeshifting, copying Deadpool’s healing ability.
While Deadpool knew about that instance, he didn’t know that she survived her encounter with Sabretooth as a gorilla.
Wade had got his own blood into Vanessa’s system while she was wounded, and though he believed her dead, the healing factor in his blood saved her again.
5 Morena Baccarin’s Cut Scenes
Most actors hate to see all the hard work they put into a project hit the cutting room floor, but not Morena Baccarin. She was just fine with some of her more revealing scenes as Vanessa being left out of Deadpool.
The first movie saw Baccarin’s Vanessa enter into a relationship with Wade Wilson before he becomes Deadpool -- just like in the comics.
Unlike the comics, though, their relationship in the movie gets a bit more graphic thanks to an R-rating.
One particular montage has the duo celebrating every holiday in a series of intimate scenes. Audiences, however, didn’t see every holiday that they actually filmed.
When Baccarin was interviewed by Conan O’Brien while promoting the movie, she revealed that the entire montage took two days of shooting, and that they tried to squeeze an entire year’s worth of holidays into it.
Because of the sheer number of holidays that the writers used for inspiration, there were a lot “left on the cutting room floor.” Baccarin admitted, “I feel good about that -- the part that was left out.”
While O’Brien thought the actress might have been angry that something was cut, Baccarin wasn’t upset that some of her performance didn’t make it into the movie.
Instead she explained that audiences saw “enough” intimacy between the two characters already. She explained that, “nobody needs to see more than what was in the movie.”
4 She Served Chimichangas
Chimichangas are Deadpool’s thing, right? So then how do they end up being so important to Vanessa as well? Vanessa recently opened her own food truck that specialized in, you guessed it, chimichangas.
In 2001, Vanessa "passed away" at the hands of Sabretooth. Deadpool’s blood, though he didn’t know it at the time, saved her life.
Thirteen years later, fans of the character were rewarded for their patience and disbelief when she popped back up in a Deadpool comic book in a surprising way.
When Deadpool tied the knot in an issue of his solo series, the book was filled with vignettes after the wedding ceremony that highlighted snapshot of his life that were also related to marriage.
It was revealed that he fantasized about Vanessa being his wife, though she supposedly passed away on a mission. In reality, Vanessa was alive, and had taken on the guise of a woman who ran a food truck.
It was that food truck that introduced Deadpool to deep fried burritos, or chimichangas.
Of course, it was also revealed in the same set of vignettes that Deadpool had been “married" before to a woman named Anna, someone he had worked with on a mission in the past. Unfortunately for him, she disappeared the day after their wedding because she was actually Copycat messing with his head!
It seems like no matter what love enters Deadpool’s life, Copycat is destined to be there too.
3 She Appeared On TV
Kids growing up in the '90s most likely got their introduction to Marvel characters courtesy of the X-Men animated series that aired as part of the FOX Kids lineup.
The characters most often garnering screen time were Wolverine, Jubilee, Jean Grey, Cyclops, and Storm, cementing them as icons in the minds of fans. There were a lot of other characters who made an appearance (or four) though.
If characters appeared in 1990s comic book series, chances are they appeared in the animated series as well. They just might have been difficult for fans to spot. Why? They largely appeared in a cameo capacity in the series.
There were instances of faces or names of characters appearing on computer or TV screens, for example, and there were also times that they might have just been a familiar face in the crowd.
The latter is true for Copycat.
For older fans who were already reading the comics, they knew Vanessa had a distinctive look. Blue skin and white hair is hard to miss, even in a crowd of mutants with stand-out features.
She first appeared in a crowd in the two-part episode “Sanctuary” that saw Magneto try to create a safe place for mutants to live on an asteroid.
With the series reusing some of its artwork over and over again, she also appeared in the background crowds in the episodes “Secrets Not Long Buried” and “Graduation Day.” Sadly, she didn’t get her due as a speaking character.
2 She Had An Acting Career
Fans who read the issues of Cable that saw Vanessa kidnapped and taken to the Microverse would have noticed that Vanessa and her boyfriend Garrison Kane met up with Cable in a ruined theater.
The theater had seen a recent fire that wasn’t exactly explained. Readers familiar with Wolverine would have known what happened though.
In the second volume of his solo series, Wolverine was sent after Garrison Kane himself. When he arrived, he found Deadpool going after him as well.
Deadpool got the better of Wolverine and discovered that Vanessa and Kane weren’t just living the simple life away from Weapon X and X-Force; they were trying their hand at an acting career.
While Kane had a difficult time with it, Vanessa seemed to have finally found her place as a “normal” human. Kane wasn’t good at connecting with his emotions, but that wasn’t something Vanessa had ever found difficulty with.
It probably also helped that she had spent a lifetime pretending to be other people. She probably picked up a trick or two from her own mutant abilities.
In the '80s and '90s, there were a lot of Marvel comic book characters who tried their hand at acting.
Unfortunately, readers never got to see if Vanessa could become a star or not as she kept getting herself pulled into tragedies that didn’t take place on the stage.
1 A Message From Deadpool
No matter how often Vanessa attempted to lead a normal life, the lure of a big payday always pulled her into mercenary work. Pretending to be someone else was what she was good at, and she couldn’t resist an easy paycheck.
One of the jobs she took was for a pair of villains known as Taskmaster and the Wizard. The duo wanted to get back at Deadpool for wrongs committed against them.
They promised Copycat bank account information for her to claim the money she was owed. Unfortunately for Vanessa, her disguise might not have been as good as she thought.
Vanessa spent time pretending to be Titania, a human given super powers by Doctor Doom. Her job as Titania was to get close to Deadpool and gain his trust so that the Wizard could easily get to him.
What Vanessa didn’t realize was that Deadpool could see through her disguise as Titania.
Somehow, despite Copycat’s ability allowing her to mimic someone right down to brainwaves and DNA, Deadpool knew Titania was really Vanessa.
He claimed that he recognized her scent, and so angry at the betrayal that she claimed was “just business,” he decided to give her what she wanted -- information for a large bank account.
He carved his account number into her skin so she could have access to the money she wanted.
Calling the relationship between Copycat and Deadpool volatile would be an understatement.
Did you know all of these crazy facts about Deadpool's Vanessa Carlysle? Or did you learn something new about her and her alter ego Copycat? Let us know what your favorite part of Vanessa’s story is in the comments!