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The Animated ‘Deadpool’ Series is Dead in the Water

The Merc with a Mouth won’t thrive on the small screen (for now?).
By  · Published on March 26th, 2018

The Merc with a Mouth won’t thrive on the small screen (for now?).

There’s been a major disruption in the R-rated realm of the X-Men universe. We can no longer look forward to Donald Glover and Stephen Glover‘s animated Deadpool series, as FX Networks has officially pulled the plug on the project. The deal fell through close to a year after it was first announced in May 2017, with “creative differences” being the reason for the cancellation according to Deadline.

Admittedly, this comes as a shock, seeing as the Deadpool brand has been steadily working for Fox since 2016 when Ryan Reynolds’s eponymous live-action take on the character basically re-birthed the X-Men film franchise. One could even make a case for the ruined version of Wade Wilson in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Reynolds’s portrayal of Wilson in Origins has been positively received in an otherwise dull film that botched the character overall (although reviewers lament the limited screentime of the perfectly-intact Wade).

The overwhelming success of Deadpool proved that a self-serving mercenary with a massive potty mouth who constantly pokes fun at the over-seriousness of many other superheroes like him could resonate with audiences. The film earned $783 million worldwide and has a sequel slated for May — a myriad of fantastic new trailers constantly reminds us that it will indeed be a ridiculously fun follow-up including new characters, perhaps more heart, and definitely more quips.

The Deadpool property got more exciting after it was revealed that the Glovers and FX were taking the Merc with a Mouth on an animated small-screen journey that was supposed to debut sometime in 2018. The series seemed like a well-deserved expansion of this singular universe. Deadpool absolutely thrives in a smaller story, as the 2016 movie demonstrates — it is pure fun without really putting too much stock on an overly complicated plot. Deadpool 2 seems primed to slowly branch out the brand and include the X-Force, but it’s distinctly different from the massive interconnectedness of the rest of the X-Men franchise. An animated series would have been a fresh take that could potentially move away from Reynolds’s singular representation of the character while banking on the sheer relevance of the material to fans these days.

Glover’s busy year spanning both his onscreen (FX’s own Atlanta, the Marvel movie Spider-Man: Homecoming, and the upcoming Solo: A Star Wars Story and live-action Lion King remake) and musical (as the Grammy-nominated Childish Gambino) careers put him on everyone’s radar in the best way as well. Furthermore, FX seemed to be a particularly good home for the series, as the show was thought to be an adult action-comedy. As Fox’s version of HBO or Showtime, the network would have given the creative team a lot more freedom to deal with Deadpool’s shenanigans. FX already has positive ties with Marvel TV thanks to the X-Men franchise series Legion, which will premiere its second season next week. Everything was falling into place, but it was evidently too good to be true.

With the Disney/Fox merger looming over existing X-Men properties, the animated Deadpool series needs to find a new home at a different Fox entity if it’s to see the light of day before the acquisition is complete. At this point, we don’t know if Marvel TV and ABC Studios will go after the series in any capacity, or if the Glovers will remain involved at all. The “creative differences” reasoning makes me think that they won’t be — that something fundamental in the development process completely derailed — and that’s a huge shame.

The over-the-top nature of Deadpool’s entire schtick would work exceptionally well in an animated format, and Marvel TV should absolutely revive the project sometime down the line. They do, however, need as much of a winning combo as FX and the Glovers to make it work.

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Sheryl Oh often finds herself fascinated (and let's be real, a little obsessed) with actors and their onscreen accomplishments, developing Film School Rejects' Filmographies column as a passion project. She's not very good at Twitter but find her at @sherhorowitz anyway. (She/Her)