Stick a few candles in your chimichangas, because it’s Deadpool’s 25th birthday! It’s been a quarter century since Deadpool stabbed his way into the hearts of fans in the pages of New Mutants, and the Merc With a Mouth’s meteoric rise doesn’t seem anywhere close to done. With an arsenal of comic-book titles, mountains of merchandise, Internet sainthood and a feature film about to drop, you’d be hard-pressed to find a hotter character on either side of the fourth wall.
Join me in looking back at 25 years of Deadpool with these 25 moments from the illustrious and irreverent history of Wade Wilson!
Deadpool made his first appearance in New Mutants #98. Created by Fabian Nicieza and Rob Liefeld, Deadpool was a bit of a gun-toting cypher at first, acting as an antagonist for Cable and the New Mutants, who he’d been hired to kill. The design of his costume — reminiscent of DC’s Slade Wilson, a.k.a. Deathstroke — inspired his name, Wade Wilson.
1992—DEADPOOL SPRINGS INTO ACTION (FIGURE)
There may be more Deadpool toys than you can shake a bloody katana at today, but it wasn’t always that way. Still a relatively obscure character, Deadpool made his debut as an action figure in 1992 as part of Toybiz’s “X-Men-X-Force” line, complete with “spring-out dagger.” It shows how far the character has come that the back of the package cites Deadpool’s “super-silent” tracking as one of his abilities.
1993—DEADPOOL GETS ANIMATED!
Deadpool made his first TV appearance as a cameo on X-Men: The Animated Series when his mask is shown in a vision Sabretooth has in Episode 4, titled “Deadly Reunions”. He never technically appeared in the series, himself, but had a handful of other cameos, often in the form of a shape-changing mutant taking his form.
1993—DON’T CALL IT A SLAYBACK!
Deadpool: The Circle Chase was the Merc with a Mouth’s first miniseries, written by co-creator Fabian Nicieza and drawn by future Battle Chasers artist Joe Madureira. It featured Deadpool going up against a number of villains that included a Cable look-alike named Kane, Juggernaut, Black Tom Cassidy, and the unfortunately-named Commcast, all as part of a larger plot by Slayback.
1994—NOTHING CAN STOP THE DEADPOOL!
Marvel published a follow-up series by Mark Waid and Ian Churchill the following year, simply titled Deadpool, which saw Juggernaut and Black Tom return to plague Wade, who is forced to team-up with Black Tom’s brother and niece, Banshee and Siryn of the X-Men. Deadpool triumphs, adding himself to the list of people — which includes the X-Men, Hulk and Spider-Man, twice, as Wade points out — that can, in fact, stop the Juggernaut.
1997—DEADPOOL GOES MONTHLY!
Deadpool finally got his first ongoing in 1997, from writer Joe Kelly and artist Ed McGuinness which was the first to establish the style of self-aware superhero parody that has become the character’s trademark. The first issue was a Canadian extravaganza, as Wade clashed and then partnered with Alpha Flight member Sasquatch to stop a nuclear explosion. The title wasn’t a huge commercial hit, but it proved to be a fan-favorite and lasted until issue #69.
1997—DEADPOOL’S DANCE WITH THE DEVIL!
DP shared an annual with DD in Daredevil/Deadpool Annual #1997, which saw the two crimson-clad heroes put a stop to one of Typhoid Mary’s killing sprees. In the process, Foggy Nelson loses his dog (known as Deuce the Devil Dog) to Wade’s partner, Weasel, in a game of poker, which Wade then gave to his homeless friend, Blind Al.
After the first ongoing was cancelled, it was rebranded and launched as Agent X, with Wade seemingly dead and replaced by an amnesiac mercenary named Alex Hayden. Hayden’s true identity was played as a mystery for much of the series, with it being implied that he was actually Deadpool. He even bantered using grey word balloons in place of Deadpool’s trademark yellow ones.
2003—BACK FROM THE DEADPOOL!
It turned out that Deadpool wasn’t Alex Hayden, or dead, as he returned in Agent X #13 to kick off the series’ final arc, “Deadpool Walkin,’” by series writer Gail Simone with art by UDON studios. Alex and Wade battled Black Swan, the man responsible for jumbling up their powers and personalities, and managed to return to normal — relatively.
2004—BIRTH OF THE BOSOM BUDDIES!
Cable suffered a rebranding similar to that of Deadpool in the early 2000s, with his solo title being relaunched as Soldier X, which was likewise cancelled after about a year. In order to save both characters, the bosom buddies were brought together in Cable and Deadpool, from Fabian Nicieza, the writer that first pitted them against each other thirteen years earlier. The series saw the pair evolve from an antagonistic relationship, to a begrudging partnership, and finally to a dysfunctional friendship that has become one Marvel’s most iconic bromances.
2005—THE UNLOCKABLE DEADPOOL!
Leaving no fourth walls unbroken, Deadpool made his first appearance in a video game in X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse, first as a minor boss being controlled by Mr. Sinister and then as a playable character unlocked upon completion of the game. He had tons of great banter — performed by voice actor John Kassir — including a lengthy conversation with himself that activated if the player fought Deadpool using Deadpool.
2007—MERC WITH A MINION!
Deadpool has taken many hostages—I mean partners—over the course of his career, but few have proved as endearing and effective human shields as Bob, Agent of HYDRA. Introduced in Cable and Deadpool #38, Bob was made an accomplice to Deadpool’s assault on the HYDRA base at which Bob was stationed, and has been dragged along on many of Deadpool’s missions since, mostly just for Wade’s amusement. Bob is a coward with a heart of gold who has become a fan-favorite member of Deadpool’s cast.
2008—WHERE THERE’S A WILSON THERE’S A WAY!
The Skrulls invaded in 2008 during Marvel’s Secret Invasion, and Deadpool was on the front lines in the second volume of his ongoing series. Writer Daniel Way helmed the series for over fifty issues and pitted Wade against Norman Osborn’s Thunderbolts, made him a pirate, and teamed him up with Spider-Man to fight Hit-Monkey, among many other adventures.
2009—MERC WITHOUT A MOUTH!
In what may rank as the greatest Hollywood tragedy since the death of Bea Arthur, the Merc with a Mouth made his debut on the silver screen in X-Men Origins: Wolverine with his mouth sewn shut by Weapon X. Ryan Reynolds portrayed Deadpool — who, for some reason, had arm-swords and eye-lasers — in the film, which was so ill-received that plans for a solo movie were delayed for several years.
2009—WADE USES HIS HEADPOOL!
Deadpool made his franchise potential known when he got a second ongoing by Victor Gischler and Bong Dazo, Deadpool: Merc with a Mouth. Deadpool found himself in the Savage Land, where he discovered a tribe of Neanderthals who had taken to worshipping the zombified head of the Deadpool from the Marvel Zombies reality. The series ran for thirteen issues and also introduced Lady Deadpool, foreshadowing a trend of introducing alternate Deadpools that has yet to stop.
2009—DEADPOOL ROUNDS UP!
Marvel published the 900th issue of Deadpool in 2009 as a joking way of taking the air out of the then-upcoming 900th issues of Action Comics and Detective Comics from the Distinguished Competition. It was not actually the 900th issue of Deadpool, and to cement the numbering’s gimmick the next issue was Deadpool Team-Up #899, and continued to count backwards for the duration of the series, which saw Wade go on a tour-de-force of the Marvel Universe alongside Hercules, Satana, Gorilla Man, Hell Cow and The Watcher, among many others.
It’s apparently rather difficult to get rid of your own brain-hungry head from another reality, so Deadpool kept teaming up with Headpool, which naturally led to the formation of a team of alternate reality Deadpools in a series naturally titled Deadpool Corps. The team roster featured such classic characters as Lady Deadpool, Kidpool, Dogpool and Championpool, all drawn by superstar artist Rob Liefeld, in a return to the character he co-created.
2011—DEADPOOL TAKES THE FIGHT TO THE STREETS!
Wade joined the legendary Marvel vs. Capcom fighting game franchise in Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds, in which he crossed blades with Dante from Devil May Cry, traded blows with Ryu from Street Fighter, and quipped his way through battles with the entire roster of video game icons. In a bit of prophetic marketing, Rocket Raccoon and Doctor Strange — two other relatively unknown Marvel characters who had yet to receive films — were also included in the updated version of the game, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3.
2012— BLACK AND WHITE AND DEAD ALL OVER!
Even after his long run on the Deadpool ongoing, Daniel Way continued to write Wade in the pages of Thunderbolts, where he fought alongside the new lineup of the antihero team. Red Hulk, Elektra, Venom and the Punisher made up the incredibly monochromatic initial team, with Hulk villain the Leader and Ghost Rider joining in on the gratuitous violence over the series’ 32 issue run.
2013—BREAKING THE FOURTH WALL IN THIRD PERSON!
Not content with conquering long boxes, Deadpool set his sights on consoles next. Activision released Deadpool for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 in June of 2013, an action-comedy game — with a story by Daniel Way and title character voiced by Nolan North — that allowed players to take control of Wade as he breaks the fourth wall, as well as armies of bad-guys’ bodies. The game was recently re-released on PS4 and Xbox One.
2013—MERC WITH A MENACE!
Deadpool guest starred in an episode of the second season of the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon, appropriately titled “Ultimate Deadpool.” Deadpool stole a Quinjet from Iron Man and joined Spidey on a mission to stop Taskmaster, who he turned out to be in cahoots with, leading to a wacky cartoon battle between Wade and the wall-crawler.
Deadpool got hitched to Shiklah, Queen of the Underworld in Deadpool #27 in a story by Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan, co-writers of volume 3 of Deadpool. The cover by Scott Koblish boasted a Guinness-certified world record for the most characters on a comic book cover, and claimed to be “the most important issue #27 in the history of comics,” in reference to Detective Comics #27, the first appearance of Batman.
2015—EARTH’S MERC-IEST HERO!
Following in the proud tradition of former bad guys given Avengers membership by Steve Rogers, Deadpool was drafted into the Uncanny Avengers when Cap handed him his membership card in a story in Avengers #0. It has since been revealed that Wade is actually funding the Uncanny Avengers team with the wealth that he’s accumulated by cashing in on his sudden surge of popularity.
Deadpool will celebrates his 25th anniversary in the extra-sized 7th issue of his All-New All-Different ongoing series which releases February 10th, twenty five years to the day since the release of New Mutants #98. The anniversary is also being celebrated with the returns of classic Deadpool creators to new series, such as Joe Kelly and Ed McGuinness on Spider-Man/Deadpool and Fabian Nicieza on Deadpool and Cable: Split Second, Deadpool’s band of misfit mercenary employees being spotlighted in Deadpool and the Mercs for the Money, a new spinoff book, Gwenpool, and one more thing…
2016—MERC WITH A MOVIE!
After over a decade of being stuck in development hell, Deadpool will arrive in theaters from 20th Century Fox just two days after his 25th anniversary. Outspoken Deadpool fans Tim Miller and Ryan Reynolds will direct and star, respectively, in a film that will bring to life not just Deadpool but also classic members of his supporting cast like Weasel and Blind Al. The film has enjoyed a massively successful viral marketing campaign already, is projected to have a $55 million-plus opening weekend, and will almost certainly be better received than Wade last foray into film.