One Of Deadpool 3's Writers Destroyed Spider-Man's Love Life In The Comics

As movies and TV shows have become the dominant mode of superhero storytelling, some comic writers have crossed mediums with the characters they pen. Allan Heinberg wrote a brief run on "Wonder Woman" and years later wrote the screenplay for the 2017 "Wonder Woman" movie. Brian Michael Bendis, the defining Marvel Comics writer of the 2000s, sat on Marvel Studios' now-disbanded "creative committee." James Gunn, as the co-head of DC Studios, has brought writer Tom King ("Batman," "Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow") into the fold.

"Deadpool & Wolverine," which brings the 20th Century Fox side of Marvel into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is the latest example of this; one of the movie's five credited co-writers is Zeb Wells, who also wrote an episode of "She-Hulk: Attorney at Law." For some Marvel Comic fans, however, his name lives in infamy.

Now, Wells' "X-Men" related work is well-regarded. The 18-issue series "Hellions" was like a mutant version of "Suicide Squad" — some minor X-Men villains and disgraced heroes (like Cyclops' little bro Havok) were put on a team to redeem themselves. Only problem? Their den mother was the ever-manipulative Nathaniel Essex, aka Mister Sinister, who puppeteered the team like he does everyone (sometimes with lethal consequences).

Like fellow writer Kieron Gillen (an important figure in current "X-Men" comics), Wells writes Sinister like a solipsistic dandy who relishes being evil. With the same breath, he'll stab you in the back and drop his jaw at you being naive enough to give him an opening to do so. Wells enjoyed playing with his readers like Sinister did his Hellions, and the result was hearts aching over D-Listers like Wild Child and Nanny.

So, if "Hellions" is so good, what's the problem? Wells tanked his reputation with his next assignment, "The Amazing Spider-Man," by doing the dirty work of Marvel Editorial and splitting up Spidey and Mary Jane.

Marvel Comics before Zeb Wells

Spider-Man's love life shouldn't be complicated, but it is. From 1987 to 2007, Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson were happily wed. Joe Quesada, then Marvel's editor-in-chief, felt the marriage was the wrong storytelling move and pushed to end it.

The result was 2008's "One More Day," where to save Aunt May's life, Peter and MJ make a deal with the devil — literally. They agree to let the demonic Mephisto alter reality so May lives, the price being that they never tied the knot in this new universe. Divorce would've been one thing, but the method of splitting up Peter and MJ rubbed salt in the wound of the (many) fans who love them as a couple.

In 2018, Nick Spencer took over writing duties on "The Amazing Spider-Man" and put Peter and MJ back together for the first time in a decade. His first issue (drawn by Ryan Ottley of "Invincible") opens with a recreation of "Sensational Spider-Man Annual" #1 — "To Have and to Hold" — by Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca, where Peter and MJ stand on top of the Empire State Building together and remember how they found each other. Spencer's debut issue ends with them sharing a dramatic kiss and MJ declaring, "We're in this together, Peter. We always have been." Quite the mission statement, huh?

Breaking Spider-Hearts

Spencer stayed on "Amazing Spider-Man" for about three years and 70-plus issues; many fans were willing to forgive other issues with his run since he'd given them the thing they'd wanted. Marvel editorial, though, remains aligned with Quesada's anti-Peter and MJ views. So, when Wells took the reins, he kicked off his run with the couple separated (check out this cover for his second issue, drawn by John Romita Jr.).

For many fans, the sticking point has been him giving MJ a new boyfriend — Paul — and asking fans to believe she could ever choose him over Peter. Memes inflating Paul into a supervillain have become easy fodder on Marvel/comic fan forums. For what it's worth, recent Spider-Man stories that feature a married Peter and MJ — like the animated film "Across The Spider-Verse" and Jonathan Hickman/Marco Checchetto's "Ultimate Spider-Man" — have been praised.

Wells' "Amazing Spider-Man" run has attracted other controversies too, from turning Norman Osborn into a good guy to the short-lived "Death of Ms. Marvel," which happened entirely to drum up publicity so Marvel could bring Kamala Khan back as a mutant rather than an Inhuman. To enjoy "Amazing Spider-Man," readers have to put up with even more corporate BS than other Big Two superhero comics.

All this said, should Wells' involvement in "Deadpool & Wolverine" worry you? Probably not. "Hellions" fits right in tonally with a Deadpool story. Also, Wells' co-writers — star Ryan Reynolds, director Shawn Levy, and previous "Deadpool" movie writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick — in all likelihood outrank him. His "Spider-Man" proves he doesn't mind listening to the higher-ups.

"Deadpool & Wolverine" releases in theaters on July 26, 2024.