Denis Leary Was The Inspiration For An Iconic Marvel Hero

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Deadpool co-creator Fabian Nicieza says actor/comedian Denis Leary inspired the character’s signature sarcasm.

By Sean Thiessen
| Published

Some of the inspirations behind Deadpool are obvious, like the healing factor from Wolverine or the big, ovular eyes and wisecracking attitude from Spider-Man. Other inspirations swirling in the minds of co-creators Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza may be less expected. A report from The Vulture reveals Nicieza, Deadpool’s first writer, had actor and comedian Denis Leary on the brain when crafting the anti-hero’s snarky dialogue.

Now a renowned actor in his own right, Denis Leary made a name for himself performing stand-up comedy. His routines were far from family-friendly, as he made clever critiques and scathing observations about a host of controversial topics. That’s exactly the version of Leary that Nicieza wanted Deadpool’s speech to emulate.

“I wanted to differentiate the sound of his voice so that it would sound like 1992 Denis Leary in an echo chamber,” Nicieza stated. Seeing as Deadpool garnered the nickname “Merc With a Mouth,” it seems Nicieza successfully set the precedent he intended. Though Deadpool has grown raunchier and more explicit over the years, even his earliest days embodied a rebellious, sarcastic spirit that caught the attention of comic readers immediately.

The cinematic version of Deadpool

Nicieza recalls the flood of fan mail that came in for The New Mutants after Deadpool’s debut in issue #98. The writer said that of the 500 percent increase in reader responses, most referenced Deadpool and the desire to see him return. With that, Liefeld, Nicieza, and Marvel knew that they had a hit on their hands.

In addition to the Denis Leary quality of Deadpool’s speech, the character’s creators altered the look of Deadpool’s speech bubbles to make the new kid on the block stand out even more. Traditional speech bubbles were given a bold, colored outline when Deadpool spoke. As technology evolved, Deadpool’s derisive dialogue balloons were filled in yellow and lettered in a jagged typeface called Spookytooth.

Since his foul-mouthed start, Denis Leary has lent his talents as a writer and actor to numerous film and television projects, including the hit series Rescue Me and the animated Ice Age franchise. After unwittingly lending inspiration to one of Marvel’s most iconic characters, Leary joined the Marvel universe alongside Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone in 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man.

As for Deadpool, the quips and kills are scheduled to keep coming in comics and on the screen. In addition to Deadpool 3, which features the return of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, a Deadpool Christmas Special is reportedly in the works for Disney Plus. With The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special coming to Disney Plus in just a few days, there may be a new holiday tradition in the works at Marvel Studios.

Deadpool actor Ryan Reynolds, who stars alongside Will Ferrell in this holiday season’s Spirited for AppleTV+, claims to have already co-written a Deadpool Christmas film. Reynolds, along with Deadpool and Deadpool 2 screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, apparently penned the holiday outing for the Merc With a Mouth, but there is no confirmed connection between the alleged script and the upcoming Disney Plus special.

Denis Leary has been an entertainment industry staple since the early 1990s. His brash humor and dramatic sensibilities anchored an impressive career and inspired artists across the gamut of creativity, not the least of which was Nicieza. For Leary’s contribution to Deadpool, inadvertent as it may be, fans ought to be forever grateful.