FRIENDS, ENEMIES, LOVERS AND MUTANTS
In fact, Miller’s reality-based storytelling generates empathy for all the protagonists, particularly in the poignant love story between Wade and Vanessa Carlysle, who fall in love because of their flaws, rather than despite them. Vanessa had a rough childhood and is living a life full of regret. She’s a prostitute when Wade meets her, and together they embark on a quest to become better people.
“We wanted Vanessa to be someone who totally owns her space, isn’t a damsel in distress, and when she does get into deep trouble, does everything she can to get out of that predicament and really kick ass,” Reynolds notes. “Morena Baccarin embodied Vanessa from the get-go.”
“Vanessa is incredibly different from any character I’ve ever played because she’s a great combination of smart, sexy, cool and tough,” says Baccarin. “She’s a guy’s girl, but also very much a woman. She’s also a fighter and it’s incredibly refreshing to see a female character in a superhero movie who is just as tough as the guy, has something to say, and has balls.”
Deadpool’s nemesis is Ajax, played by Ed Skrein (“The Transporter Refueled”). Ajax is the architect of Deadpool’s transformation. “He runs the WeaponX workshop and is a sadistic bastard,” notes Miller. Ajax takes special pleasure in torturing Wade during the procedures that transform him into Deadpool (and his face into an amalgam of scar tissue).
Ajax – his given name is Francis (and you better believe that Deadpool has a field day with that!) – had undergone the same program that Wade came through. The powerful villain’s abilities include heightened agility and strength, as well as numbness to pain and human emotion. Ajax doesn’t feel empathy or sympathy and has no qualms about tormenting someone as a means to an end.
Ajax’s henchwoman and “muscle” is Angel Dust, a statuesque beauty who possesses incredible physical prowess. She does the jobs that Ajax avoids – and loves every minute of it.
“Angel Dust’s superpower is basically accessing her adrenaline to create super-strength,” notes Gina Carano, a former international mixed martial arts champion. “It’s kind of like that horse that you want to let the reins go on a bit. I feel like Ajax has the reins and Angel Dust says, ‘Oh, I’m ready. Put me in.’”
There’s sometimes a thin line between these enemies and Deadpool’s mutant “allies,” Negasonic Teenage Warhead and a behemoth known as Colossus. Apart from her powers as a living, breathing nuclear warhead, which provides what may be the coolest superhero name ever, NTW is in many ways a typically rebellious teenage girl. She’s too cool for school, standoffish and sarcastic.
Colossus, a CG creation, can change his skin into steel, and in DEADPOOL is moonlighting from his stint as one of the X-Men. He has been charged with being NTW’s mentor.
The film introduces a fun and idiosyncratic dynamic between Deadpool and Colossus. “When I read that Colossus is kind of watchdogging Deadpool, making him the straight-man to Deadpool’s antics, I fell off the couch,” recalls Liefeld. “It’s genius! It elevates Colossus to a place he’s never been before.”
The movie breaks away from its rapid-fire action sequences involving these uber-powerful characters to showcase Deadpool trading wisecracks with barkeep pal Weasel, played by actor-comedian T.J. Miller (“Silicon Valley”). In spite of his motto of always “looking out for number one,” Weasel is a trusted friend to Wade. Weasel owns Sister Margaret’s Home for Wayward Girls, a clandestine establishment where mercenaries drink away their conscience. He’s also a savvy weapons dealer who loves money and guns.
Miller appreciated the film’s unique elements. “DEADPOOL is nothing less than the greatest story ever told – with guns and swords,” he jokes. “It’s also very self-aware; Deadpool knows he’s in a comic book and he even knows he’s in a movie. He breaks the fourth wall and talks to the audience. Sometimes he’s mean to the audience, but they deserve it! I like to think of him as the regenerating degenerate.”
Deadpool also relaxes by kicking back at home with his roommate Blind Al, a sightless senior citizen whom Deadpool found on Craigslist. Singer/actress Leslie Uggams takes on the role. “Al is independent, sassy, sarcastic and tough, and she can give as good as she gets,” Uggams says.
They’re an unusual pair of roomies, but they end up becoming friends. It’s a quid pro quo relationship. “Wade makes the money and Al keeps house, more or less,” Uggams notes. “Because she’s blind and can’t see his disfigurement, Al provides a comfortable camaraderie for Deadpool, and he makes no judgments – and certainly offers no special accommodations – for Al’s challenges.”