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Who Is Julian Dennison’s Mutant Kid Character in DEADPOOL 2? (SPOILERS)

Who Is Julian Dennison’s Mutant Kid Character in DEADPOOL 2? (SPOILERS)

Warning: This article contains significant spoilers for Deadpool 2, some of which you might have figured out, but also a few you may not have guessed. Proceed accordingly.

If you’ve been watching the trailers for Deadpool 2, you know that the main thrust of the story is Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) protecting a mutant kid from the wrath of time-traveler Cable (Josh Brolin). And if you’re sharp-eyed, you might have recognized that it’s Julian Dennison, star of Taika Waititi‘s Hunt for the Wilderpeople. But most clips so far have been very careful not to mention his name, and there’s a reason for that: it might give away too much of the plot.

But first, let us flash back to the early ’90s X-Men animated series, and an episode entitled “No Man Is an Island.” It’s a solo adventure for Scott “Cyclops” Summers; having recently seen girlfriend Jean Grey die, he loses faith in everything, but after leaving the X-Mansion and returning to the orphanage in which he grew up, he learns that four mutant children have recently been adopted by a man named Kilgrave–yes, the very same one who’s the villain of Jessica Jones season 1. (Eddie Marsan’s evil warden character subs for the contractually unavailable Purple Man in Deadpool 2.)

One of the kids, a pyrokinetic boy named Rusty, tries to warn Scott, but is taken back to Kilgrave and brainwashed before Scott can do anything about it. Scott is briefly outnumbered, and even has a moment where he’s thrown into water and appears to be drowning, but is sent back from the afterlife by a vision of his (supposedly) dead lady love. Kilgrave’s plan, it turns out, is to run for political office, eventually ensuring a future in which he and his mutants will wreak vengeance upon a society that has shunned them. Scott eventually recovers, and because this version of Kilgrave works his mind-control magic on victims’ eyes, Scott’s Cyclops mutation renders him immune, and he saves the day as a hero. Realizing he has familial instincts after all, he re-joins the X-team…and the episode ends with the realization that Jean may actually come back from the dead after all.

If you’ve seen Deadpool 2, a whole lot of this plot sounds familiar, right? Just replace Scott Summers with Wade Wilson. Russell “Rusty” Collins is that very same kid, and has nearly that very same arc; played by Julian Dennison, he’s also known as Firefist. Deadpool 2‘s casting is generally pretty color-blind, but in this case it’s body-positive as well; the big-screen Firefist, now played by a Maori actor, makes a big deal about being a plus-sized hero, but on the page he’s a standard-issue, white muscle-guy (albeit a redhead).

There’s more creative leeway, of course, when you’re dealing with a character this deep-dive; ask the average comics fan to name Marvel characters with fire-related powers, and Firefist might not even crack the top five. He’s heavily defined in the comics by his attraction to various women: first one named Emma, whom he hideously burns when his powers get, ahem, “aroused.” Jean Grey is a crush later on, and eventually he becomes inseparable from a former Morlock named Skids, who’s also one of Kilgrave’s adoptees in that animated episode; the two would eventually go on to from the X-Terminators and get their own team book, and a spin-off movie (or even TV show) with Dennison doesn’t sound half-bad, actually.

Firefist doesn’t kill Cable’s family in the future, but he has tangled with the cyborg hero before, mainly while under the influence of big Nate’s identical nemesis Stryfe. Eventually he and Skids moved in with Magneto’s Acolytes on the orbiting space-base Avalon, and Rusty was killed by the mutant on-the-nose genocide allegory Holocaust. He was briefly reanimated as a zombie during the Necrosha storyline, and re-killed by Wolverine, something movie Deadpool won’t be allowing to happen, we suspect.

Dennison has already made Firefist a lot more memorable than he ever was in the Marvel Universe, and if Fox and Disney make nice sooner than later under merger terms, it’d be great to see him and Waititi reunite under a shared cinematic banner. Meanwhile, he’s the easiest conduit to either live-action Acolytes or X-Terminators. Would you be interested in Fox’s mutants going in that direction? Let us know in comments.

Images: Fox TV, 20th Century Fox, Marvel Comics

 

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