Many people are excited that 20th Century Fox's Deadpool movie is finally underway, but none more than his creator Rob Liefeld.
Liefeld, who is jumping back into creator-owned comic books this year with The Covenant and revivals of Bloodstrike and Brigade, tells Newsarama that he's enjoyed seeing the long journey Wade Wilson's endured from New Mutants #98 to X-Men Origins: Wolverine and the ups and downs before the Deadpool movie got on track in late 2014.
With less than a year before Deadpool debuts, Newsarama spoke with the writer/artist about the cinematic futures of Deadpool as well as other characters he created at Marvel. Liefeld also gave his opinions on the rise of superheroes as the dominant sub-genre of movies currently, and if it can last.
Newsarama: Rob, you’ve been like a proud father hanging our cigars after the birth of a child with Deadpool finally being filmed in Canada. What’s this been like for you?
Rob Liefeld: Oh man, it's been a blast. I've said it repeatedly and I'll say it again now... Watching something that you created on your notepad take flight will never not be a blast.
Nrama: And how have you been received by 20th Century Fox, Marvel Studios, and Ryan Reynolds?
Liefeld: They are all wonderful to me. It started with the original X-Men producers post-X-Men Origins: Wolverine and continued with the screenwriters and then director Tim Miller and of course Ryan, Mr. Deadpool himself. They've been absolutely wonderful.
Nrama: You could very well become best known for Deadpool if this movie is a hit – would you have a problem with that being your signature work decades from now?
Liefeld: I would have no problem with that, because watching umpteen amounts of licensed products that adhere to my illustrations has been an absolute blast and quite rewarding. There's no reason to complain. But as far as Liefeld concepts and designs appearing on screen, I'm very confident that there will be an abundance on the way very soon.
Nrama: When people think Deadpool, the next character that comes to mind is Cable. Cable’s yet to make a live-action debut in movies, why do you think that is?
Liefeld: I would respond with a statement that has served me very well over these past few years, "everything in its due time." And I would cite the near perfect production of Deadpool as an example of good things come to those who wait.
Nrama: That being said, do you think there’s potential for a Cable feature film?
Liefeld: I will confirm for you that I am not a stranger to the executives in the X-Men think tank over at Fox and they are well aware of the commercial and critical viability of Cable and his five hundred comic book adventures. They are aware that the #2 best selling comic book of all time features Cable.
For fans, trust me, I am well aware that it's so hard to hear, "be patient, it's going to happen..." But that was the exact mantra I said repeatedly for six years with Deadpool and it was eventually rewarded and I believe the payoff is spectacular! That same mantra is the one I practice with Cable and even X-Force now... In the years to come when it all comes together, you won't quite remember the lack of patience for these characters, you'll just be happy the are appearing on screen and in the best light possible.
Fox has had a creative re-awakening due to the renewed focus provided by younger executives more familiar with the core material and producers like Simon Kinberg who is more passionately involved with the films and more educated on them than previous "chaperones" were. Also, Mark Millar was essential in guiding them as a creative consultant the last few years, he's not mentioned enough but us involvement was crucial in righting the ship behind the scenes.
Nrama: If it were you, would you make his parentage – that of Scott and Madelyne Pryor – a big part of a film, or would you downplay it? I know for your work on Cable you didn’t deal much with it, and it was actually added to the character after he debuted.
Liefeld: When Cable was his most popular and the most influential, that aspect wasn't a factor or didn't exist at all. I don't even think about it. If it applies to the film version it won't add or subtract much in my mind. Even in the comics, that hasn't been a focus for years. That was an obsession with an editorial group many years back. Especially at the outset, I'd like to think that Cable would be a man of mystery... That was crucial to his early appeal and popularity.
Nrama: So after Deadpool, the confirmed characters for his movie and Cable, are there other characters you’ve created for Marvel or DC you’d like to see get a shot outside of comic books?
Liefeld: I'm certain that everything I've created for Marvel and DC will arrive on the big or small screen nowadays just because it's the nature of the beast now. The studios are consuming Marvel and DC intellectual property at an alarming rate. Some I'm aware of but can't speak about specifically and some I'm sure will happen regardless.
Nrama: You bring up the rise of superhero movies, so let me ask this: as a fan and someone who's contributed to Hollywood, what do you think how big the superhero sub-genre has become for movies and live-action television?
Liefeld: It's impressive for certain. I often look at it all through the lens of my much younger pre-comic book professional self and wonder how thrilled he would be with all of the momentum comic books have gained in pop culture.
Nrama: Do you think there's a ceiling for it?
Liefeld: Unfortunately, nothing is limitless and everything has a ceiling of sorts. But it's not close, I believe that, as we are about to get hit with the first big wave of diversity, and by diversity, I mean the first chapters of the new DC films and Fox films such as Suicide Squad, Deadpool and Fantastic Four that we will see the extent of the limits to all this growth. Adding more R rated material is going to help. I wish Suicide Squad was R as well. But by the end of next summer I think the picture will be much clearer.
Side note: films franchise like X-Men and Fantastic Four have potential to continue past the "comic book" label as a result of their sci-fi roots. X-Men is really about survivors/outcasts with powers, they aren't traditional super heroes and the Fantastic Four are science explorers that create or discover the threats that they encounter. Neither concept finds their characters as "crime fighters" per se, not in the manner that the Avengers or Justice League does.
Nrama: How do you see the growth of superhero films affecting the actual source material, comic books?
Liefeld: At the corporate level I just see more synergy with the film versions.
Nrama: If superhero movies do start to falter and become less of a "sure thing" for Hollywood, do you think comic books would be affected?
Liefeld: The comics themselves are benefitting from the mass exposure. Stores are growing and the customer base is expanding. Those are huge positives. A new generation has been built off the umpteen billions that are being spent making and marketing these films, driving consumers to seek out the source material. I think it's going to have a very long lasting effect. Or at least I hope. Did I mention I'm buying a comic book store?
Nrama: That’s news. Can you elaborate on that, Rob?
Liefeld: Not at this time.... Soon though.
Nrama: Circling back then to what we began with, Deadpool. It’s become a tendency for Stan Lee to have a cameo in any movie based on a Marvel character – would you have a problem with him showing up in Deadpool?
Liefeld: No, of course not, he'd be great. He's synonymous with Marvel.
Nrama: And for you, can you say if you have a role in Deadpool we’ll see on screen?
Liefeld: I cannot speak or comment on any role. We will all have to find out together when the film is released next February!