- Francis Deadpool Guide: The Many Faces of a Villain - March 28, 2023
Like many Marvel fans, my introduction to Francis Fanny was through the film Deadpool (2016). In the character’s comic history, there are some noticeable differences between Francis in the comics and the incredible portrayal by Ed Skrein. The character has undergone a few name changes within the comics, though he isn’t what could be called a mainstay by any means. Nonetheless, he plays an integral role in Deadpool’s origins.
Wade Wilson developed cancer and was eventually enrolled in the Weapon X program, known for creating Wolverine. However, Wilson failed and was thrown with other “rejects” from the program into the “Workshop” – an alternate fate.
Approved by Department H and Department K, Dr. Emrys Killebrew experimented on the Weapon X failures. While fans know Deadpool would gain his healing factor here and eventually escape to become a fan favorite, Francis’ experience here is a little less familiar.
Join us in an in-depth exploration of Francis, the ruthless villain in Deadpool’s world, with our comprehensive Francis Deadpool Guide.
Quick Facts About Francis Fanny
- His debut appearance is Deadpool Vol. 3 #14, though his face isn’t shown.
- Francis has gone by many names, including “The Attending” during his time with Weapon X.
- Like Deadpool, Francis failed the Weapon X program due to his sadistic personality.
- After his death at Deadpool’s hands in the failed Weapon X program, he returned with the sole goal of killing the Merc with a Mouth.
- While trying to kill Wade later, he goes by the name “Ajax.”
- Francis made no more significant appearances until Deadpool vs. Thanos in 2015.
- In his 2015 appearances, he went by the name “Abyss Man.”
- Due to implants and the Weapon X program, Francis has enhanced strength, speed, and resilience. His nerves were removed for pain management, and he was psychologically altered to be better at following orders.
- He HATES his name.
Francis “Ajax” Fanny: A Quick Publication History
Debuting in Deadpool Vol. 3 #14 in 1998, Ajax is the later persona of Francis Fanny. While he appeared as a villain of Deadpool in these early issues, his origins would not be revealed until a few issues later in Deadpool & Death Annual, released the same year. He then continued to be a primary villain for the in-progress arc, which concluded with Deadpool Vol. 3 #19.
To recap Deadpool’s origins, he would make brief cameos in Deadpool #2 (2008) and Weapon X: First Class #2 (2008). His only other “major” appearance didn’t come until 2015, in the first three issues of the four-issue miniseries Deadpool vs. Thanos. Since then, Francis has not been seen again outside of his film debut.
The Origins of Francis “Ajax” Fanny
Revealed in Deadpool & Death Annual #1, Francis was part of the Weapon X program, just like Wade Wilson. However, he flunked out because despite being mostly perfect – he is a sadist. Nonetheless, he is placed into a position of relative power, keeping the other “rejects” in line and assisting with Killebrew’s experiments in Weapon X’s offshoot facility.
Ruling through fear, Francis goes by the name “The Attending” during these early stages of his origin. His authority is threatened by Wade, who makes it a point to try to get himself killed as quickly as possible. This is due to his desire to be with Death romantically after meeting her.
Discovering that Francis hates his name, Wade uses every chance to torment the sadistic overseer. His last name, “Fanny,” is unknown at this time. It would be revealed to Deadpool later (in Deadpool vs. Thanos). Wade’s taunts result in Francis wanting to kill him, though not being allowed to since Wade is a valuable asset to Killebrew’s experimental work.
Francis gets around this by torturing one of Wade’s friends, Worm, who turns the mercenary into a reluctant hero figure. Through the death of Worm, Wade is forced to shift away from his goal of dying, vowing revenge on Francis. When Deadpool’s healing factor is activated following near termination, he kills Francis. He leaves Weapon X. Unfortunately, like his foe, Francis is not yet dead despite appearing to be.
Taking on a New Name: Ajax
Now under the persona of Ajax (humorously declaring himself as “Ajax, the cleaner”), the villain is seen hunting for Deadpool in Deadpool Vol. 3 #14. The hunt and battle last from issues #14 – 19 of the series. It is revealed that the villain has not been hunting only for his murderer.
He also previously hunted down each of the escaped rejects who had Deadpool as their champion at the failed section of the Weapon X program. This results in the Merc with a Mouth’s former friends having unfinished business, unable to move on in the afterlife. This then leads Deadpool to reluctantly step into the role of unorthodox hero.
The moment is of particular note since Deadpool had vowed not to take any more lives before this. The hero is routinely making adjustments to his life. He has been seen killing unhindered before trying to actively be a hero, just to have his attempts thwarted.
Then, when he is prepared to accept his role as a mercenary and general bad guy, he is forced to become a hero. Francis’ role in Deadpool’s life seems to be to continue presenting this polarity within the main character. He is a powerful bully, and while Deadpool wants to use him for selfish ends, the mercenary is forced to beat him in heroic ways.
Ajax is a challenging foe to defeat. In many regards, he seems indestructible. His armor isn’t easy to pierce, and his strength is immense. His initial fight with Deadpool leaves the mercenary on the brink of death – to convene with the spirits of his dead friends. It seems early on like this fight will go on and on. After all, both fighters have an uncanny knack for coming back from the brink of death.
This seems especially possible when Dr. Killebrew reveals that a built-in spinal tap was incorporated into Francis, which the doctor forgot to trigger. With this convenient option out of the way, that doesn’t leave very many openings to defeat him.
However, Ajax has a vulnerability created thanks to a rare heroic moment from Dr. Killebrew. Following the doctor’s death after using an explosion to rattle Ajax’s electric systems, Deadpool tricks his foe into coming after him. The two hurtle off a cliff into water, which finalizes the short circuit and causes the death of Ajax – though a body is never seen.
Ajax’s Return as Abyss Man
Nonetheless, Ajax’s death was confirmed years later when Francis Fanny returned in Deadpool vs. Thanos in 2015. After Death is kidnapped by a mysterious entity, Francis appears again under the name “Abyss Man.” Coming from the depths of Hell, he has been dead since his last fight against Wade Wilson.
Despite a new persona and a chance at Wade, Abyss Man ends up being a pushover at the hands of Thanos. He is used as a warning from Black Talon, a voodoo priest supervillain who controls zombies, during a ritual to open a door to Hell. This doorway allows Deadpool and Thanos to confront Mephisto about Death’s whereabouts and effectively ends Francis Fanny’s role in the Marvel universe thus far.
Francis “Ajax” Franny’s Powers
Weapon X’s experimentation enhanced Francis with super strength and improved “intuitive capacity.” He has implants under his skin which increase his speed and resilience. He has also had his nerve endings removed, which makes him impervious primarily to pain. He was psychologically conditioned to be able to effectively follow orders, though he hardly took any. Later, he wears a titanium suit and appears to have a few cybernetic implants.
Francis Fanny in Comics vs. Francis “Fanny” Freeman in Film
In the film, Francis has a more prominent role in Deadpool’s origins. He is the one doing the experimentation, eliminating the role of Dr. Killebrew in the titular antihero’s life. However, Francis underwent experimentation beforehand, leading him to gain abilities mirroring those of his comic iteration. He works with Angel, who he is never seen interacting with in the comics.
Francis is already going by the name of Ajax during his first interactions with Wade, instead of adopting the persona after his first “death.” Deadpool’s regenerative abilities are not activated via the sadistic torture of his friends. Instead, suffocation via an airtight tube activated by Ajax is what instigates it.
Wade still annoys Ajax with his name, Francis, within the film, but both taunts serve different purposes. Death is not personified in the films, so Wade enjoys annoying him because it’s part of his personality. In the comics, Ajax never claims to have a cure for Wade’s appearance, nor does he interfere with his personal, romantic life.
The film makes their connection far more personal but eliminates the need for Ajax to return with a titanium suit in this first iteration of the character since he doesn’t die at Wade’s hands early on.
Question: Who is Francis Fanny?
Answer: Francis Fanny is a villain in Marvel Comics, created as part of Deadpool’s origin story. Part of the Weapon X rejects, he is a sadistic man with one goal: killing Wade Wilson
Question: What Codenames Does Francis Fanny use in Marvel Comics?
Answer: The Attending, Ajax, and Abyss Man.
Question: Who Plays Francis “Ajax” Fanny in the Film Deadpool?
Answer: Ed Skrein.
Deadpool’s foe, Ajax, previously known as Francis Fanny, is a Weapon X reject, just like the Merc without a Mouth. Despite being a powerful foe with impressive abilities, he is a bit of a one-off for Deadpool to fight. He doesn’t quite fit the mold of a “hero’s worst enemy,” mainly because he hasn’t stuck around for most of Deadpool’s adventures. Despite being such a tough guy, he isn’t a consistent figure in his life and goes down pretty quickly in his third iteration as Abyss Man.
Nonetheless, thanks to Marvel’s films, he is likely one of the best-known foes of Deadpool. He is an integral part of the Weapon X/Workshop experimentation. He ultimately is the person who brings out the superabilities in Deadpool. Wade’s adventures are usually bloody hijinks that involve whacky foes, moral dilemmas, and the occasional hero team-up against Skrulls or zombies. If Ajax makes a comeback, it’s likeliest to be in comics…for a brief cameo or with a random new name.
Essential Francis “Ajax” Fanny Reading
- Deadpool (1997) #14-17 – The debut of Ajax
- Deadpool & Death Annual (1998) #1 – The origins of Ajax and his history with Deadpool
- Deadpool (1997) #18-19 – Deadpool and Ajax’s biggest battle yet
- Deadpool vs. Thanos (2015) #1-4 – The last major return of Francis Fanny