It’s hard to keep up with Donald Glover these days. After ending 2016 with overwhelming critical acclaim surrounding his hit TV show ‘Atlanta,’ and his album, “Awaken! My Love,” Gambino and his brother/co-writer, Stephen Glover, are set to be the creative forces behind the newest animated series on FXX. The currently untitled program has been scheduled for one season set to span 10 episodes, starring the breakthrough Marvel Hero, Deadpool.
Critics and executives alike were shocked last year when the R-rated Deadpool movie starring Ryan Reynolds raked in nearly $800 million internationally off of a $58 million budget. Personally, I was surprised they were surprised. Deadpool was a movie that hit the Marvel-shaped nail right on the head. It is this commentator’s opinion that this was the role Ryan Reynolds was meant to occupy his entire Hollywood career.
For your consideration, the following freaky coincidences:
Reynolds’ first acting debut was February 3rd, 1991, the same year and exactly two days after Deadpool first appeared in comics. They have both been divorced and remarried, they both met their second wives in a comic property, and they both have one child—a daughter. But wait, there’s more! Both of their names have alliteration: Ryan Rodney Reynolds and Wade Winston Wilson. They’re also both from Canada, so, you know, case closed.
Now, had you asked me two years ago if Ryan Reynolds would make a good Deadpool—or any other superhero, period, following that Green Lantern thing we’ve all collectively wiped from our minds—the resounding ‘no’ would have left you wondering if you should ever ask me anything ever again (that answer is also no). But, with the sheer willpower of a star being left behind by Hollywood’s forever-rotating roster of A-list actors, and also probably with the millions he’d accumulated having previously been one of those A-listers, Reynolds persevered until the film came to fruition. After smashing R-rated movie records and pissing away the perceptions of critics that Americans didn’t want a foul-mouthed, crude-humored superhero, Deadpool is here to stay, and I am all too happy to live in a world with Ryan Reynolds revitalized. (But ONLY as Deadpool, don’t you EVER let ANYONE slap your ass into another CGI bodysuit!)
Next year we can look forward to not only the live-action sequel, but also Donald Glover’s own adaptation. After having spent years writing for ’30 Rock’ and then co-starring in ‘Community,’ while also devoting time to rapping, then fully committing himself to rapping, then helping to ignite the infamous ‘half of Twitter for Donald Glover as Spiderman vs. the other half of Twitter “the-fuck-you’re-just-going-to-make-Spiderman-black-now?-what-if-we-made-Michael-Cera-play-Shaft,” feud while also producing several comedy specials and then reviving funk on this planet with, “Awaken, My Love!” AND THEN co-creating Atlanta with his brother, due for its second season the same year Deadpool’s animated season will premiere, he’s still found time to star in upcoming films like the Star Wars Han Solo prequel and also, karma coming full-circle, Spiderman: Homecoming (sadly not as Spiderman himself, which I was entirely for, but I’ll take what I can get).
That paragraph alone creatively exhausted me and it’s a jumbled mess. How has Mr. Glover managed to make himself such a bold player on so many artistic outlets without seeming to have stretched himself too thin? My belief is that it has been years in the making, beginning in his early days as a behind-the-scenes writer with a burgeoning rap career that started off shaky at best. After gaining some notoriety as the affable bonehead, Troy, on Community people were truly surprised when he quit television. The confusion ended when the consensus turned into, “Ah! Of course, he quit to focus on rapping, as most black actors do.”
But it couldn’t be further from the truth. In his own words, during a 2013 interview on Arsenio, Donald says, “I just wanted to do something different… It wasn’t rapping… I can rap, but I don’t consider myself a rapper. I want to do a bunch of stuff… I think its dumb. Nobody wants to be just a rapper. Rappers don’t want to be rappers. They don’t. Every rapper I’ve talked to is like, ‘Oh, I wanna do this, and this,’ they’re usually artists who want to do a bunch of stuff.”
This answer honestly struck a chord with me. How guilty is society, how guilty am I, of assuming that a famous person with a particular skill—be it acting, writing, or rapping, especially rapping, etc.—is a 2-dimensional character with no further interests?
To be fair, Childish Gambino did not strike gold with his first few releases. The only memorable tracks from 2011’s Camp were the Lil Wayne-type-metaphor-heavy ‘Bonfire’ and the vaguely uncomfortable ‘You See Me.’ Because the Internet hit with ‘Sweatpants,’ but the whole album delivers as if coming from far away, almost like Gambino is either mildly disassociated with himself or entirely too far in his own head. The album came with a three-act, 75-page screenplay that revealed the story behind many of the album’s vignettes. It is about “The Boy,” who lives in a mansion throwing parties and posting videos to WorldStarHipHop to combat his loneliness. His dad is played by Rick Ross, his friend played by Chance the Rapper. It is as hard to follow as the actual album vignettes minus the backstory, but it is a fascinating snapshot of Glover’s rampant creativity.
I think the Donald Glover we have now is finally comfortable in his own skin. Having turned 30 and set aside the same insecurities that made Camp hard to digest at times and Because the Internet so impossible to make sense of, Glover’s creativity is flourishing with determination. I am excited to see what shade of humor will be present in his Deadpool, and how much of the comic book’s original character will be left undisturbed.
While not many details have been revealed about the animated series, fans can rest easy knowing our favorite XXX rated superhero is in capable hands.