Deadpool may be a master of breaking the fourth wall, but not even he can get around some muddled rights issues. At least, according to one Marvel artist.
Although the occasionally stormy relationship between Marvel and Fox over the latter’s holding of key movie rights for Marvel characters (like the X-Men and the Fantastic Four) has softened in recent years, it has apparently not softened so much that Marvel’s Deadpool comics can’t make the occasional visual nod and wink to the character’s movie exploits, according to Spider-Man/Deadpool artist Reilly Brown. Brown took to Instagram recently to share a few behind-the-scenes bits of art from a story he penciled in Spider-Man/Deadpool #6 in 2016, which saw Deadpool visit the set of a movie adaptation of his own violent exploits.
As you can expect, there’s lots of jokes about the current superhero movie boom, but for an extra visual joke, Brown apparently wanted to suit Deadpool up in his actual costume from Fox’s Deadpool movie for scenes when Wade himself is called on to be a stunt double in the movie. The movie suit is only subtly different to Deadpool’s comic suit and it would’ve been another subtle joke in among all the other jokes in the issue. However, the difference was enough for Marvel’s lawyers to notice... and politely ask that Brown redraw those scenes. He explained on Instagram:
The legal wrangling around Fox’s ownership of the Deadpool movie rights also impacted another visual in-joke Brown had in the comic, apparently. Originally, the actor playing Deadpool in the story, Donald Dryans, was meant to look much more like actual Deadpool movie star Ryan Reynolds. So when he was asked to tweak that joke too, Brown had to redraw the face and add a mustache for good measure:
You can still kinda see a likeness under that ‘stache. But even that was too much for Marvel’s legal team! Fast forward to now, when Disney’s wild deal to purchase 20th Century Fox is in the works, maybe these references would’ve been allowed. Or at least, they’d probably be allowed when the deal eventually actually goes through. But at least for the moment, seems like Marvel’s comics can’t quite make nods to Fox’s Marvel movie exploits just yet.