In comics, it is pretty usual for publishers like DC and Marvel to get “inspired” by each other’s characters. Or at least it used to be. Thus, DC’s intergalactic tyrant Darkseid became Marvel’s intergalactic tyrant Thanos. Marvel’s Namor became DC’s Aquaman. And so on. One of the most blatant “inspirations” in the history of comics is Deadpool. Created by Fabian Nicieza and Rob Liefeld, Deadpool made his first appearance in 1991. When Liefeld came up with the design, Nicieza told him, “This is Deathstroke from the Teen Titans.” Deathstroke is now better known as one among Batman’s rogues, but he was originally a Teen Titans villain.
You only have to notice their appearances to figure out that there was some serious inspiration behind Deadpool’s look. Both are master swordsmen and keep two swords sheathed at their back. Even the hues of their costume are similar. But of course, Deathstroke would not get a joke if it personified in front of him (unlike a certain other Batman villain) and Deadpool is the very definition of a joke stretched too thin. Deathstroke is also an out-and-out villain, an assassin, while Deadpool is more like an anti-hero. Thus Slade Wilson of Deathstroke became the Wade Wilson of Deadpool.
Deathstroke was played by Manu Bennet in the TV series Arrow. In DC film universe, the character appeared in the post-credits scene of Justice League. He was asked by Lex Luthor to make a “League of our own” – probably Injustice League. Joe Manganiello essayed the character and the look was comic-accurate.
Anyways, the reason I did not use the word “ripoff” in regards to Deadpool was that he really was an inspiration. Liefeld, the artist and writer who designed Deadpool’s look, had been a huge fan of Deathstroke as a kid. He said in 2010 when he got the chance to write for Deathstroke, “I’ve always been in awe of … Deathstroke — and “always” means since I was a child.”
Both Deathstroke and Deadpool may owe their appearance to another comic-book character – DC’s Deadshot, an expert marksman. Will Smith played the character in 2016 film Suicide Squad. Deathstroke predates Deadpool by more than a decade, but Deadshot predates Deathstroke by three decades.
Deadpool 2 will release on May 18.