The Ultimate Marvel Universe made bold innovations when it came to updating their classic lineup of characters. Tony Stark no longer received a chest wound in overseas combat, but he became Iron Man following a crisis of conscience after developing brain cancer. The Hulk wasn’t a radioactive experiment gone wrong; he was a super-soldier experiment gone even worse. And Deadpool wasn’t a chatty, self-aware pseudo-mutant he was an Ultimate Spider-Man villain.
The bulk of Ultimate Deadpool’s appearances are contained to Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley’s Ultimate Spider-Man #91-94, which served as a crossover with Ultimate X-Men. Perhaps what’s most astonishing is just how little space Deadpool gets in this 2006 storyline. Despite his popularity, this version of Deadpool is merely the leader of a group of villains instead of a star in his own right.
Instead, the Deadpool of this universe was a mercenary who fought in the “Wakandan Wars.” At some point thereafter, he was recruited by the Genoshan government to hunt down mutants, which is how he started fighting the X-Men. But outside of his former status as a mercenary and adjacency to the X-Men, he had almost nothing in common with the main Marvel Universe version of the character. He didn’t seem to have any mutant healing powers, his fourth-wall awareness was totally absent, and even his banter lacked much of its signature rapid-fire pop culture-laden charm.
Instead, “Wadey” Wilson had high tech weaponry provided by the Genoshan government and commanded a band of cybernetic mercenaries known as the Reavers. While the Reavers are typically separate from Deadpool, they and Deadpool were hired to kidnap the X-Men for a reality show filmed on an island in the foreign country of Genosha. On that island, the reality TV mogul Mojo — who was also notably different from his Marvel Universe counterpart — conducts a Battle Royale-style hunt for the mutants humankind so sorely hates and fears.
It seems that Ultimate Deadpool even shares the sentiment, as he approaches the task with vim and vigor. When Spider-Man was at the X-Mansion, Deadpool tasered him and brought him along to Genosha as a bonus, seemingly happy to have another target to hunt down. Naturally, he was unsuccessful, and Spider-Man worked with the X-Men to take down Deadpool, the Reavers, and Mojo’s whole operation. Deadpool was even unmasked to reveal that he had a translucent plastic skull.
Despite his anti-mutant sentiment constituting the majority of his Ultimate Marvel characterization, it’s odd to look back and see that most of the character’s appearances were in Spider-Man comics. In 2013, he received a cameo years later in Cullen Bunn and Salva Espin’s Deadpool Kills Deadpool miniseries, where when alternate-reality versions of the famous mercenary band together, and he was killed by Marvel’s main Deadpool.
Outside of that, Ultimate Deadpool just never really went anywhere, especially since he debuted a few years before Deadpool’s true resurgence in popularity would begin. Given Deadpool’s affection for Spider-Man in the Marvel Universe, the idea of Deadpool being a Spider-Man villain is certainly compelling, and the portrayal of him as a cybernetic anti-mutant hunter works as a different take on the character. But without more Ultimate Marvel appearances, it seems like Ultimate Deadpool was ultimately a dead end.
Deadpool has changed a lot over the years, but Ultimate Spider-Man transformed him into a very different kind of character.