The Strange History of Deadpool in Other Media

As Deadpool swims in his box office money like he's Scrooge McDuck, we take a look back at all the movies, cartoons, and games he's been in.

Deadpool’s second outing has been a financial success, as expected. It’s kind of crazy. With all the superhero movies coming out between DC and the various Marvel-related studios, it’s incredibly rare to see a relatively new character become a big deal. Really, think about it. The Avengers and Justice League characters are all old hat. Guardians of the Galaxy is a bunch of old characters with a fresh coat of paint.

Deadpool, on the other hand, was just a crappy Deathstroke knockoff who looked kind of cool. It took years for him to grow into an actual character. It took longer for him to actually catch on, first among the comic fans and later among the larger geek culture circles. The guy became an internet icon and shows up on t-shirts and every square foot of a nerd convention floor. Now he’s A-list and is practically a household name.

Throughout his nearly 30 years of existence, Deadpool’s made plenty of appearances outside of comics. He has guest-starred in cartoons, played the token goofball in Marvel ensemble video games, starred in his very own game, and…well…there’s that other movie appearances.

You know what? Let’s just get that one out of the way.

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Deadpool at the Movies

2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine is rather infamous for its portrayal of Deadpool. He suffers from the usual Fox treatment where they decide to make radically different characters, tack on an established character’s name, and then call it a day. It’s much like how the second Fantastic Four movie made Galactus into a cloud, but it’s totally okay because there’s a split second where its shadow sort of looks like Galactus’ helmet. Or how Silver Samurai was a mech. Or how Psylocke was…whatever Psylocke was in X-Men 3.

It worked with the Vanisher, so even a broken clock is right twice a day.

Ryan Reynolds briefly played an unpowered Wade Wilson early in the movie and it was every bit as good as it should have been. Ever since playing Hannibal King in Blade Trinity, fans had been wanting him to play the role. Too bad Reynolds took one big powder and came back at the end as a mouthless science experiment with Baraka claws and laser eyes.

You know, like the Deadpool we know and love.

The only thing that in any way came close to redeeming it was a post-credits teaser that showed up for certain reels of the movie that revealed that despite being decapitated, Deadpool was still alive and his mouth had been torn back open. Like, it could have been salvaged by a decent enough writer. Maybe.

But hey, the huge backlash led to a surge in Deadpool’s popularity and ultimately led to the new movie being a thing. You should totally be thankful for this movie.

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Around the same time, Marvel released a straight-to-DVD set called Hulk Versus, which featured Hulk vs. Thor and Hulk vs. Wolverine. The latter one had the two rivals take on Weapon X, which included the likes of Sabretooth, Lady Deathstrike, Omega Red, and Deadpool. Deadpool was played by Nolan North and despite having a pure villain role and being just another henchmen, the depiction was so on-point that it made X-Men Origins look even more clown shoes than it did at default.

Deadpool added some much-needed color to the story via his snide remarks and physical comedy. To me, the absolute highlight is a moment where he shoves a grenade in Hulk’s mouth, runs side-by-side with Wolverine for several seconds with Hulk only several feet behind them, and yells, “I think we lost him!”

If anything, it showed us that Deadpool COULD work. At least, as a cinematic antagonist for Wolverine.

Despite Deadpool’s failure as a box office character, there was still an attempt to get Fox to make a new movie. Originally, Fox didn’t seem very interested in all, but there was a slight shot in the arm when a 2010 version of the screenplay — written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick — was leaked to the internet. Showing that it had more to do with the Joe Kelly run of the character than…whatever was going on in Origins, the internet reaction was more positive.

There was just enough of a foot in the door to get a CGI proof-of-concept made with Ryan Reynolds doing the voice. Fox remained uninterested, but one of the parties involved leaked the footage to the internet and there was a huge exclamation of, “WHY ISN’T THIS MOVIE BEING MADE?!”

Fox was all, “Oh. Okay, fine. We’ll make it, but we’re limiting your budget. In fact, we’re limiting what we already limited.”

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And so, on February 12, 2016, Deadpool was released in theaters. It made a crazy amount of money and acted as a huge “told you so” for anyone who flipped over a table during Origins. Do I really need to go over the movie’s plot here? Or the sequel?

Not only was the movie successful as a lesser-known superhero flick, but it did gangbusters with an R-rating. If anything, that opened Fox’s eyes and showed that not only could they get a little saltier with their X-products, but they could also toss in some variety with their movies. Not everything needed to be an X-Men superhero blockbuster adventure. They could do action comedies and gritty dystopian dramas and whatever the hell New Mutants is going to be.

Deadpool is so successful as a cinematic star that they’re even doing X-Force as a spinoff of his movies. Crazy.

Deadpool in Video Games

Deadpool has had plenty of play in the video game world. His first appearance was in 2005’s X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse, where he was voiced by John Kassir, who made him sound kind of like a sarcastic Michelangelo. Deadpool acts as a boss character about halfway in, tricked into working for Mr. Sinister.

By completing the game, you can replay with Deadpool unlocked. Of the three unlockables, he’s the only one who really makes any sense, considering the other two are Iron Man (why is he in an X-Men game?) and Professor Xavier (why would you even want to play as him in a melee battle scenario?).

Deadpool comes back for the two follow-ups, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance and Ultimate Alliance 2. While he remains a colorful addition to the cast who always tosses in some 4th wall-breaking dialogue, his sidekick Weasel ends up getting kind of a big role in the first Ultimate Alliance. He’s involved in this big cliffhanger with Black Widow, but that’s completely forgotten about for Ultimate Alliance 2’s plot and Weasel’s totally ignored.

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X-Men Origins: Wolverine was given its own tie-in for the consoles and unlike the movie it’s based on, the game is actually pretty well-regarded. Granted, Deadpool is still Weapon XI and it’s still stupid, but at least the fight between the two is bloody as all get-out.

Ultimate Deadpool made a rare and…not quite in-character appearance in Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, a game based on the idea of 616 Spider-Man, Ultimate Spider-Man, Spider-Man Noir, and Spider-Man 2099 teaming up. In the comics, Ultimate Deadpool has made only one major appearance as a military man who hates mutants so much that he had himself enhanced into some kind of cybernetic killing machine who kills mutants on an illegal internet show for kicks. In the game, he’s brought back and is more like his goofy 616 self, more about telling jokes than being bitter and bigoted. Even this alternate reality version of Deadpool is voiced by Nolan North.

Deadpool made his long-awaited first appearance in a fighting game with 2011’s Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds, once again portrayed by North. There are a lot of neat touches with Deadpool’s inclusion. His inter-company rivalry with Dante from Devil May Cry. The way he jokes about Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark when facing Spidey. Quoting the Konami X-Men arcade game when facing Magneto. Accidentally getting his butt violated by Morrigan Aensland in the intro movie (which I guess got the ball rolling for Deadpool’s recent history of succubus sexual relations). The way he wields his own health bar as a weapon at one point.

But really, the best part is how he uses Ryu’s Shoryuken years after the classic scene where he used the same move on Kitty Pryde in the comics in order to goad Wolverine into a fight.

Thumbs up for having Slapstick show up apropos of nothing. This is years before they were on a team together.

I can really go on and on about Deadpool’s video game appearances, but truth be told, he’s become a regular fixture due to the many, many releases that are simply centered around Marvel as a whole. When you make something like Lego Marvel, about all the superheroes, of course you’re going to get Deadpool shoved in there somewhere to be the jokey guy. And of course he’s going to be voiced by Nolan North…except for in Marvel Super Hero Squad Online where he’s voiced by Tom Kenny.

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Wait. Hold on a sec, I’ll be right back.

*types “Deadpool Spongebob” into Google Image Search*

Huh. Not nearly as much fanart as I expected. Go figure.

2013 gave us Deadpool’s very own game in the appropriately-named Deadpool. Yet again, North voices him. The game is M-rated, which is fine for the violence, but all the sailor mouth dialogue seems really forced. Yes, Wade. You can swear now. That’s neat. Or at least it would be if you didn’t wear it out in the first five minutes.

It’s your average hack ‘n’ slash and they got Deadpool comic scribe Daniel Way to write the game. While the game’s direction is certainly cute, Deadpool himself is incredibly one-note. Then again, Daniel Way wrote the game, so that’s what you get. It’s just Deadpool saying jokes, acting horny (because, again, M-rating), and being a dick 24/7. There’s nothing especially deep about the story where he’s out trying to kill Mr. Sinister. He just does it for the flimsiest of reasons and we get a bunch of cameos out of it.

Plus it overuses the whole “inner voices” gimmick and that’s just the worst.

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One cool thing about Deadpool’s video game appearances is that not only is he in the mobile fighting game Marvel: Contest of Champions, but you can also play as his hulking, symbiote-wearing, alternate universe counterpart Venompool.

Deadpool has seen things you people wouldn’t believe. A giant foot crushing Mr. Sinister. Mayor Mike Haggar knocking out Galactus with a lead pipe. All those moments…will be lost in time…like tears in the rain… Time to move on to the next entry.

Deadpool on TV

So let’s go way back. Way, way back to the early 90s. Deadpool was a nothing character. He fought the New Mutants, had unique word bubbles, and maybe crossed paths with Wolverine once. Despite all that, he still made three minor appearances on the X-Men animated series. The cartoon was known for its inexplicable use of Marvel cameos. Like Dr. Strange and War Machine stopping by for literally two seconds. Or how one minor character was revealed as Immortus for no real reason, with no explanation of who that was, and it was never brought up ever again.

Despite all of that, Kitty Pryde never showed up once in all five seasons. Even though the previous X-Men cartoon was named after her.

Anyway, Deadpool. In an early episode, he appeared briefly when Xavier entered Sabretooth’s mind with no context given of what he was about. A later episode had Morph transform into him briefly to get under Wolverine’s skin. Again, no context given. Then there was a weird little scene where the dark corner of Xavier’s psyche became sentient, messed with Wolverine, and briefly turned into Deadpool to attack him. Still, no context on who that guy was.

Not that they had much of a choice. Using the term “dead” in a children’s cartoon is a BIG no-no. Especially X-Men, which took a huge beating from standards and practices on a regular basis. Even some all-ages Marvel comics (ie. Marvel Adventures Spider-Man) had to play with the fact that they could have Deadpool show up, but he couldn’t actually say his own name.

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At least that’s not the case in Ultimate Spider-Man. Deadpool appears in an episode, fittingly titled “Ultimate Deadpool,” where he’s voiced by Will Friedle. Considering the show’s not-so-grounded, logic-defying, humorous style, Deadpool fits in pretty well. They do away with his comic self’s backstory and instead make him kind of a failed protégé of Nick Fury. He’s what would happen if Spider-Man were to lose his way and become a greedy sociopath with no moral compass. It’s worth checking out if you’re able to stomach the show’s flavor.

Once was enough for me.

Deadpool has ended up getting some play in Japan as well, oddly enough. In the X-Men Anime, he makes a very minor cameo where he helps the X-Men save some civilians and doesn’t get any lines or do anything unique. It’s just fan service.

Marvel Disk Wars: The Avengers, on the other hand? That’s another story. Disk Wars is a recent anime series from Japan and it’s completely bonkers. The plot is that the main Avengers – Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, and Wasp – have been affected so that they exist as tiny holograms living inside disks. Five kids are able to wield them like Pokemon and can make them flesh and bone for five minutes at a time to fight evil. Like I said, totally batshit.

And you know what? It’s actually not bad! The cast of the show is massive and you get everyone from the Guardians of the Galaxy to Iron Fist to Predator X. Despite the weird concept, the writers actually seem to care about making lemonade out of the lemons.

More than that, before the 2016 movie, it was probably the BEST depiction of Deadpool outside of comics. I’m serious.

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Deadpool appears in two episodes, “The Forbidden Hero Appears” and “Chris and the Moment of Truth.” He’s voiced by Takehito Koyasu. Outside of having rather clear skin (we see him walk around in his boxers with his mask on), he’s absolutely perfect. It’s really amazing how well they balance him out. At times he’s a goofball who knows he’s a cartoon character, complaining about how the kids get too much screentime compared to the heroes and insists to the children watching at home that he’s incredibly popular in America. At times he’s a well-meaning maverick who does things his own way. Yet despite all that, he also finds time to be a self-hating scumbag who can give us a moment or two of actual pathos.

The first episode is low on action and high on jokes, but the second episode is so worth checking out. It’s Deadpool and Captain America having a badass fight with Baron Zemo. Go look for it online. It’s seriously great.

Right now there’s a follow-up series called Marvel Future Avengers that drops the Pokemon gimmick, but keeps the kids around. Takehito Koyasu has reprised his role as Deadpool and there’s a fighting chance that we might even get to see Gwenpool show up at some point.

More recently, there was supposed to be a Deadpool animated series on FXX headed by Donald Glover and Stephen Glover. Due to too many arguments with the higher-ups, the show never came to be. Ugh, Fox, we’ve been through this…

Deadpool is a complex character who can be one-dimensional if you want to be lazy. While his comics are hit and miss, it’s great to see that outside of comics, whenever he hits, he hits as hard as possible. Hopefully they can keep on hitting in years to come.

Gavin Jasper found out that there’s a Deadpool pinball game too! Wonder who voices him in—oh, it’s Nolan North. Follow Gavin on Twitter!

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