“The Mask” comics began appearing in 1989, “Deadpool” in 1991. You could make a case that the first inspired the second more than people let on, but I won’t make it because that time frame neatly covers the period when I (forever?) stopped paying attention to mainstream comic books. “The Mask” was not mainstream, of course, and I enjoyed the earliest issues I read: the “hero” was a put-upon schnook who took absurdist revenge on tormentors and bad guys with an enjoyable touch of zaniness and kraziness. Then the whole franchise got re-booted to emphasize florid gore and outright sadism (the hero was switched into a cop) and promptly became a sensation. With only a flicker of hope remaining, I even suffered through the 1994 movie. Yeah, it was a return to the goofy aspect, but it was compulsively abrasive and you left feeling endlessly butted by Big Head. The whole feel for how to champion the Little Guy or Little Gal seemed to be draining out of comics (as I’ve said, the new crop of Super Heroes had the personalities of the old Super Villains).
I never dreamed there would be so many comic-book inspired movies that would intrigue me so little.