After decades of giving maximum effort as the creator of Marvel Comics standout Deadpool, Rob Liefeld will soon be stepping away from the antihero that has been memorably brought to life on the big screen by Ryan Reynolds.
Liefeld has decided that he will retire from Deadpool once he has completed work on a book for Marvel that he hopes will hit shelves in the summer, just in time to build off excitement surrounding Disney releasing Deadpool 3 in theaters July 26. The 56-year-old artist and Image Comics co-founder, who announced his decision Monday via Instagram, says he always assumed he would continue with his signature creation until much later in life, due to his continued passion for the “Merc with a mouth.”
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“About 10 years ago, I really felt like I was in a groove, and in my mind, I was going to do this till I was 70,” Liefeld tells The Hollywood Reporter. “But the eyes and the hands, and the aches and the pains — they have a different timetable, I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older. The last year’s worth of work was the hardest to produce.”
Liefeld is proud to have written and illustrated over 1,000 Deadpool pages since the character’s 1990 debut and estimates he will have worked on 150-plus covers and 45 different No. 1 issues, including last year’s launch for Deadpool: Badder Blood. The artist, whose other creations include Marvel’s Cable, appreciates that the comics company emailed him late last year about working on a new, offbeat Deadpool story to come out around the same time as director Shawn Levy’s new film that sees Hugh Jackman make his Wolverine return opposite Reynolds. But Liefeld has had some recent health setbacks and is now experiencing pain in his hands after drawing for years without any such discomfort.
“I can’t continue to grind like this, so why not make the last grind something memorable?” Liefeld reasons about riding off into the sunset. “It’s just a function of, the eyes and the hands have to cooperate with your ambitions, and I can sense that this is getting harder and harder. Why not just put my own guardrails up and deliver it on my terms?”
For now, Liefeld is playing coy about sharing details from his final Deadpool tale but quips, “This would be an expensive story to adapt, is all I’ll tell you.” As for his other comics work, including the new series Last Blood that recently launched, he plans to reevaluate how he’s feeling at the start of next year.
In the meantime, he’s thrilled about fan excitement for the third Deadpool film, which marks the character’s much-anticipated entrance into Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe. It also comes at a time when superhero movies could use a revitalizing shot in the arm following high-profile titles underperforming last year for both Marvel and longtime rival DC.
Liefeld recalls getting a taste of the new feature when he visited the set last summer — prior to production taking a break amid the SAG-AFTRA strike — and is relieved that what he saw has yet to leak on social media. (Reynolds and Jackman posted to social media last week about the shoot having wrapped.)
“I saw some crazy shit, and none of that has made its way out,” Liefeld teases. “I was really excited by what I was seeing. Fans want Deadpool 3 to represent a turning point for Marvel. I’m really hoping that this takes Marvel into new heights and puts them on a new direction. I’m as excited as everybody else.”
In response to numerous fans commenting on Liefeld’s retirement post that they hope to see him make a cameo in the new movie, the artist says he can confirm that he will not appear in the film. However, he is grateful that it’s something the fans would like to see. “Stan Lee just set that bar,” Liefeld says. “Fans just want to see the comic creator reflected. I understand it, and I’m happy to receive that excitement.”
For now, Liefeld is still wrapping his head around this new chapter in his life: “I’m a little sad, but I’m happy that all the Deadpool work that is out there will be strong. I’ll continue to enjoy the character, but I feel like I’ll have told all of the Deadpool that I need to share.”
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