Is Deadpool Marvel or DC? Deadpool’s DC Counterparts? Over the last decade, superhero movies have taken over the blockbuster side of cinema. From the biggest names in comics to obscure characters only fans know, there is at least one comic book character for everyone. And one fan-favorite character from comics that’s confusing viewers is none other than the Merc with a Mouth himself, Deadpool.
After two hit solo movies and a third on the way, it is increasingly evident that the character portrayed by Ryan Reynolds is also a fan-favorite on the big screen — even with an R rating, which considerably reduces the potential audience. Even the mercenary’s dark sense of humor and tendency to break the fourth wall are successfully maintained in adaptations. But the movies don’t have an obvious connection to the Marvel Cinematic Universe or the DC Extended Universe, nor are they flagged as “Marvel movies” or “DC movies,” so where does Deadpool fit in?
Is Deadpool Marvel or DC?
Though the Deadpool movies do not have an obvious connection to either the MCU or the DCEU, they are more obviously connected to the X-Men franchise, which is a Marvel property. In fact, Deadpool is one of the Marvel characters that remains under the 20th Century Fox domain, like the X-Men themselves. His first appearance on the big screen was in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, where he was also played by Reynolds. That movie, however, has no connection to the current series, and it was heavily criticized at the time for giving the character such poor treatment.
While that is something most comic book and superhero movie fans already know — especially those who pay attention to production companies — it is still not directly stated. This happens because the rights to certain characters and subdivisions of the Marvel universe were sold to other companies, like Fox for the mutants and Sony for Spider-Man. So they can’t make any direct references that would confirm these characters are part of the same universe — and Marvel can’t use them in the MCU either.
This all may be confusing to newcomers and casual viewers who don’t care much about superhero movies. But yes, Deadpool is part of the Marvel universe. And, since Disney completed its acquisition of Fox Studios in 2019, fans are eager to know when the character will blend with larger Marvel properties on the big screen. From what the cast and crew of Deadpool 3 — including the writers and Ryan Reynolds himself — have been saying, it looks like it won’t take long.
Why is Deadpool so Hard to Pin Down?
Deadpool’s first comics appearance was in The New Mutants #98, published in February 1991. The mutants are a Marvel property, but that’s not always obvious if you don’t know the convoluted history of Marvel’s licensing agreements with various film studios.
First off, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is produced by Marvel Studios, but you’ll notice that the mutants, including the X-Men, have been noticeably absent so far (except for a cameo in Doctor Strange 2, in a scene that took place in an alternate universe). For years, the rights to the mutants have belonged to 20th Century Fox. All those X-Men movies over the years? Fox, not Marvel Studios. They take place in a different universe than the MCU, which is why you never see any real crossover.
Secondly, the tone of Deadpool is closer to Suicide Squad (a DC property) than it is to the MCU. The MCU is aggressively family-friendly, so much so that it’s a little startling when a character says “shit.” It took the MCU over a decade to include its first milquetoast sex scene, while Deadpool opens with Wade telling the audience he had to fondle Wolverine’s junk just to get his own movie. Deadpool’s R rating, f-bombs, and copious amounts of gore make it almost unrecognizable as a Marvel movie if you’re only familiar with the MCU.
A quick aside: it’s worth noting that Deadpool will be joining the MCU soon, which will make his connection to Marvel more explicit. Deadpool 3 will be an official installment in the MCU, although the Deadpool franchise will still be R-rated. Will Deadpool make his entrance through the multiverse? Will it turn out that he was on Earth-616 all along? We’ll have to wait and see! In the meantime, here’s a promo for Ryan Reynold’s movie Free Guy that’s kinda sorta Deadpool’s first MCU appearance.
Deadpool’s DC Counterparts
Making things even more confusing is the fact that Deadpool has multiple doppelgängers running around in the DC universe. First, there’s Deathstroke. Deathstroke is the codename for Slade Wilson, an elite assassin and mercenary for hire who comes across as a villain, but considers himself a good guy.
Like Wade, Slade gains superhuman powers while undergoing an experimental procedure. In Slade’s case, the researchers performing the experiment hope to turn him into the perfect soldier. Slade gains superhuman strength, speed, and durability, but his behavior becomes erratic and aggressive.
Then there’s Wayne Wilkins, A.K.A. Red Tool, and Devon, A.K.A. Death Masque. Wayne is a cybernetically enhanced vigilante who’s obsessed with Harley Quinn, and Death Masque is a former Arkham Asylum inmate who has been known to work with Deathstroke. Both Wayne and Devon’s costumes resemble Deadpool’s.
But that’s not all! There’s yet another DC character, Ambush Bug (real name Irwin Schwab), who’s portrayed as a Deadpool parody. In 2022’s Suicide Squad #12, Ambush Bug travels to a planet populated by parodies of Marvel characters. There, he meets a parody of Deadpool, making the comparison between the two characters explicit. Some fans are now declaring Ambush Bug to be the “official” DC version of Deadpool.
So there you have it: Deadpool is a Marvel hero, not a DC hero, but given Deadpool’s potty mouth and his DC counterparts, it’s easy to get confused.
Deathstroke Becomes a Deadpool Variant in Marvel Comics
In Deadpool Kills Deadpool by Cullen Bunn and Salva Espin, every Deadpool in the multiverse is under attack by one Deadpool whose cosmic awareness pushed him to commit an act of multiversal genocide against his own variants. As many fans know, Deadpool can break the fourth wall and interact with the reader or audience.
He can do this because he’s aware that he’s a fictional character within the established canon of Marvel. Usually, Deadpool just uses this information to crack a few meta jokes and jump head-first into any given mission knowing that none of it is real, so none of it matters, allowing him the freedom to be as weird and unhinged as he wants.
Unfortunately, not every version of Deadpool’s nihilism is optimistic, and some Deadpools just want to end their fictitious lives. This type of Deadpool is the one who has convinced an army of other Deadpools to kill every other Deadpool before doing the same to each other and then themselves. It’s dark to be sure, but it did lead to the implied battle of the century that is depicted above: Deadpool vs Deathstroke (well, sort of).
Rather than sitting back and letting these murderous Deadpools kill their own kind, Earth-616 Deadpool along with a team of ‘good’ Deadpools took the fight to them–and one of the ‘Deadpools’ Earth-616 DP battled was none other than Deathstroke. At least, someone who looked a lot like Deathstroke, as this ‘Deadpool’ variant is equipped with Slade’s iconic bandana, bandolier, pirate boots, and chainmail sleeves. Though in truth, there is no verification that this character is the actual Deathstroke from DC, but he was never meant to be. This panel was nothing more than a meta reference to the widespread belief that Deadpool was inspired by Deathstroke–and it’s absolutely perfect.
Deadpool Kills Deadpool took this long-standing belief and applied it to the infinite multiverse, essentially stating that Deadpool wasn’t just presumably inspired by Deathstroke, but that Deadpool actually is Deathstroke from another universe. And the best part? Deadpool kills ‘Deathstroke’, effectively giving Deadpool the last laugh when considering the real-world conversation about these two DC and Marvel Comics icons–and it’s all thanks to one sneaky crossover.
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