Is Deadpool the Most Popular Comic Book Character to Appear on Film?

The Merc with the Mouth. The Regenerating Degenerate. Since his debut in February, 1991, the Marvel Comics character Deadpool has consistently been a fan favorite. But will that popularity transfer outside the world of comics and into the mainstream?

Deadpool hits the big screen on February 12 in an R-rated action-comedy starring real-life Deadpool fan Ryan Reynolds. While many comic characters have found great success on the big screen, Deadpool is a bit different. Let’s take a look at Deadpool’s unique history and why he might just be the most popular comic creation to even appear in movie theaters.

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Deadpool’s Origin Story

Deadpool was created by writer Fabian Nicieza and artist/writer Rob Liefeld. Liefeld – an extremely popular comic book artist in the 90s – designed Deadpool’s look, name and powers.

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When Nicieza took a look at the character, he immediately noticed a lot of similarities to the DC comics character Deathstroke. Because Deathstroke’s real name is Slade Wilson, Nicieza suggested that Deadpool’s real name should be “Wade Wilson.” This inside joke is really the start of Deadpool’s comic persona.

Deadpool’s back-story is varied, vague and changes with the characters memory. In most versions, however, he’s the subject of experiments from the Weapon X program. Part of the reason why Deadpool is so popular is because he has a ton of powers including:

  • Regenerative healing factor – Deadpool’s injuries heal so fast he’s considered basically immortal. He can even survive a beheading!
  • Super reflexes, speed and strength – Deadpool wields guns, swords and a variety of specialty weapons with skill and style.

But Deadpool’s greatest strength is his ability to break the fourth wall. With many (but not all) versions of the character, Deadpool knows he’s in a comic book. This makes him the audience avatar in a lot of situations. He’s able to be the voice of the fan, pointing out any plot holes and interacting with the rest of the Marvel Universe by saying what the readers are often thinking.

There are versions of the character where he doesn’t know he’s in a comic book. Also, the trailers seem to indicate Deadpool won’t know he’s a character in a movie. However, even in stories where he doesn’t break the fourth wall, he’s consistently quick-witted, reckless and filled with eccentric mannerisms.

This combination of invulnerability and personality is really what has won fans over. No situation is too bizarre or out there for Deadpool. He can fall in love with the character of Death, travel to alternate universes or even kill the entire Marvel universe.

While the character of Deadpool isn’t always the most consistent, he’s definitely had plenty of stories with both humor and pathos.

Deadpool’s Popularity

Axel Alonso, Executive Editor at Marvel, explained Deadpool’s popularity like this: “Deadpool scratches an inch that no other character does,” said Alonso. “He combines the Punisher’s ruthlessness, Spider-Man’s gift of gab, Wolverine’s healing factor and the Thing’s self-loathing. And, deep-down, he’s a regular dude that likes pizza and porn, tacos and Tecate, so reader can relate.”

And relate they do. Deadpool ranked #31 on IGN’s Top 100 Comic Book Characters. He’s also appeared in seven on-going series, four spin-offs, and 23 different limited series. Although the character has evolved and changed over time, he’s appeared in print pretty much consistently since his first appearance in The New Mutants #98, back in February of 1991. Keep in mind, this is all well before the upcoming movie was announced.

For most of his existence, the vast majority of people who had even heard of Deadpool were comic book fans. While lots of people love comics, the potential audience of a movie is certainly much larger. So when you consider that Deadpool doesn’t have the built-in audience of a movie, his popularity is all the more impressive.

People Want to be Deadpool

Cosplaying – dressing up as one’s favorite fictional character – is always a popular activity at comic book conventions, movie premiers and similar situations. Go to a large enough event and you’ll find all sorts of characters from comics, movies, TV shows, anime and more.

You’re also very likely to find a Deadpool or two. Deadpool has been a consistently popular cosplay figure for years now. There are a few reasons for this:

Deadpool is relatively easy to cosplay

Many sci-fi and fantasy character costumes are very difficult to create. Traditional elements such as tails, wings, extra appendages and similar can be hard to construct, even if you know what you’re doing.

Deadpool, on the other hand, has a reasonably simple costume. You can even go online and buy a Deadpool costume without breaking the bank. Or if you have some experience with sewing and crafting, you can even make a unique costume yourself.

Anybody of any body shape and size can cosplay as whoever they want. That’s part of the fun of cosplaying!

There is a special note here for anyone who has a long beard. Beards can look weird underneath a mask. So if you’re cosplaying a character who wears a mask, you’ll want to first sculpt your beard with a high-quality beard balm. This will allow you to style your beard so it won’t be visible under the mask, and is certainly a better alternative to shaving.

Deadpool is fun to cosplay

Deadpool’s popularity lies in his personality. So if you’re going to attend a convention dressed as The Merc with a Mouth, you’ll need to embrace the role. Don’t be afraid to have fun, interact with people and, in keeping with the character, freak out on any Wolverine cosplayers.

Deadpool’s Popularity Might Soon Grow to New Heights

With a big budget movie on the way, Deadpool is likely to gain many new fans. While many other comic book characters have enjoyed big-screen success, characters like Captain America, Batman and Spider-Man arrived on-screen with a large built-in audience.

Deadpool doesn’t have the same instant recognition factor among moviegoers. But if his on-screen adventures live up to his adventures in comics over the years, you can expect Deadpool’s fan base to grow quickly. Wade looks like he’s about to hit the big time!