In the comics, mutants play in the same sandbox as all the other Marvel superheroes. So Deadpool regularly crosses paths with the likes of Spider-Man and Daredevil, and gets mixed up with Hydra and the Avengers. In the movies, though, it’s a whole other story. 20th Century Fox has the rights to the X-Men and all associated mutant characters, while Marvel Studios owns all the non-mutant superheroes. Their universes are completely separate entities.

But Deadpool’s never been one to care about what’s “right” or “appropriate” or “legal.” And he’s certainly not going to let some silly Hollywood deal stop him from bringing along a Marvel-owned buddy for the Deadpool movie. So writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick found a way to sneak in a certain Marvel-owned character without setting off alarms for Marvel’s lawyers. Find out who, and how, after the jump. 

Before we begin, be warned that some spoilers for Deadpool follow. Nothing major or movie-ruining, but still, if you’d prefer not to know too much about Deadpool going in, bookmark this page and come back to it when you’ve seen the movie.

In the climactic battle scene, Deadpool runs into an old colleague of his named Bob (Rob Hayter), who’s now working as one of Ajax’s henchmen. They pause fighting long enough to exchange some pleasantries, with Deadpool asking Bob about his wife and such. It’s a funny moment even if you haven’t read the comics, but if you’re a reader you may have recognized it as a sneaky little Easter egg. Bob, you see, is a reference to Bob, Agent of Hydra, a frequent sidekick of Deadpool’s in the comics. And like other Hydra agents, he’s property of Marvel Studios.

Speaking with Cinema Blend, Wernick explained how they managed to slip past the rules:

That’s why he’s just called Bob. The hardcore fans will go, ‘Oh my God, is that Hydra Bob?’ but the lawyers at Marvel won’t go, ‘Wait, that’s Hydra Bob, they don’t have the rights to it.’ We did take some liberties. Fox has a list of characters that they own and that we can use, and Simon Kinberg, who is a producer on the project, is the keeper of the X universe. So he was a great source for us in knowing what we can use, how it’s going to play into the larger story, and overall arching stories of the X universe. So between Simon and legal, they kind of guided us to what we can and can’t do or have access to, and then it was up to us to see how we were going to use those characters creatively, once we knew we really did have the rights.

In other words, they stripped away just enough of Bob’s backstory and identifying characteristics to stay on the right side of legal. It probably helps, too, that Bob’s only in the movie for a minute or so — not long enough to establish much of anything about himself beyond his name, and not long enough for him to become a battle worth fighting for Marvel’s lawyers. It seems unlikely we’ll get much more of Bob, given the strict boundaries separating the Marvel and Fox comic book universes, but his cameo is a nice little wink to longtime fans of Deadpool comics.

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