At the 2015 Comic-Con International in San Diego, there was only one trailer that sent fans into such a frenzy they begged to see it again. Batman v Superman? Nope. Suicide Squad? Nah. X-Men: Apocalypse? Nay. The answer is Deadpool (whaaaa?). In an effort to stand out amongst Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe, 20th Century Fox is expanding their X-Universe starting with Deadpool. The 90s character who became wildly popular in the 21st Century has developed a unique fan-base that I’m not sure could be matched by anyone else… except probably Kristen Stewart. But if there was ever a true rising star story within the world of comics, it belongs to Deadpool. From a guest-star with a cult following, to a superstar with multiple books a month, Deadpool has surpassed the popularity of Wolverine to become Marvel’s most prominent X-character. While I was never a huge fan of the character, I scoured the internet and tore through collections of back-issues in order to bring you this easily digestible primer. So sit back, relax, and grab a chimichanga while I give you everything you need to know about the merc with the mouth.

Rob Liefeld (Marvel Comics)

Rob Liefeld (Marvel Comics)

The Comic: The mercenary Deadpool first appeared in New Mutants #98 in 1991. The character, created by Fabian Nicieza and Rob Liefeld, took design cues from DC Comics’ own mercenary Slade Wilson/Deathstroke. Deadpool was given the alias Wade Wilson, as a joke for readers who would surely recognize the physical similarities between the two characters. Originally established as a villain sent to kill the mutant Cable, Deadpool was defeated by the New Mutants, and became something closer to an anti-hero, though his awful morals still led to him being set-up to battle against a number of superheroes, including Daredevil and Wolverine. During the first couple years of his existence, the character popped up in a wide range of Marvel books before receiving his own miniseries, Deadpool: The Circle Chase, in 1993.

It wasn’t until 1997 that Deadpool was given his own ongoing series in light of his growing popularity. The series, originally written by Joe Kelly and drawn by Ed McGuinness provided most of the elements that define Deadpool today. It was in this series that the character’s 90s punk edge was dulled and he became a much funnier character, a means to satirize 90s comic clichés and over-the-top characterizations and events that defined the era. It was in Kelly’s series that Deadpool first began to break the 4th wall and address the readers, as well as display the knowledge that he was a fictional comic book character. With his pop-culture references, penchant for inappropriate jokes, and ability to heal from grave injuries, Deadpool was a comedic figure caught in a violent slapstick routine that was a refreshing step away from his contemporaries.

Ed McGuinness (Marvel Comics)

Ed McGuinness (Marvel Comics)

In an act so fitting I can’t believe it wasn’t planned, Deadpool was canceled in 2002 with issue #69. After he was seemingly killed, Deadpool didn’t receive his own series again until 2004’s Cable & Deadpool, which saw the former enemies united in true buddy-cop fashion. The series, written by Deadpool co-creator Fabian Nicieza, also developed a cult-following but was canceled at issue #50 in 2008. But it wasn’t long before he received his own series again by way of Daniel Way and Paco Medina. This run is considered by many to be the essential run of the character and the one that increased the character’s popularity through memes. Like a violent mix of Bugs Bunny and Charlie Chaplin, Deadpool helped redefine humor in superhero comics. And because Marvel knows nothing of moderation, 2009 saw a second Deapool series launched, Deadpool: Merc with a Mouth, followed by a third Deadpool: Team-Up. Deadpool was also given a prominent role in Uncanny X-Force, before receiving a 4th series in 2010, Deadpool Corps (featuring the severed zombie head, Headpool, Kidpool, and Dogpool). A fifth series was then created, the R-rated MAX title, Deadpool: Wade Wilson’s War. Have you had enough yet? Well too bad, because Deadpool relaunched with a new #1 in 2012 by writers Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn. Currently, many of Marvel’s titles are on hiatus due to the reality-warping event, Secret Wars, which gave Marvel an excuse to use the break from Deadpool’s ongoing to create the mini-series Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars. While plans for the character’s solo title after the event are unknown, you could put money down that Deadpool will have at least five series, as well as two team books, a variant cover month, and numerous guest-spots, because why the hell not? Remember kids, if people are fans of something, you should force feed it to them until they hate it.

Recommended Reading:

Deadpool Classic vol. 1-12 (These collections contain Deadpool’s first appearances, 90s and early 2000s solo runs, and various miniseries.)

Deadpool by Daniel Way: The Complete Collection vol. 1-4 (If you’re looking for an easy jumping on point that gets to the heart of the character’s popularity, this is the place to start.)

Deadpool by Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan vol. 1-8 (The current Deadpool series for those looking to start with the most modern run.)

20th Century Fox

20th Century Fox

The Film: In 2000, Variety announced Marvel Entertainment was putting Deadpool on their film docket following their deal with Artisan Entertainment.  In a 2004 Interview with IGN, David Goyer detailed plans to write and direct Deadpool with Ryan Reynolds, after hitting it off with the actor on the set of the much maligned Blade: Trinity. When the project failed to move forward, 20th Century Fox decided to put Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and hopefully create a spin-off starring the character. While Reynolds finally got his wish to play Deadpool, we all know that X-Men Origins: Wolverine turned the character into a Frankenstein mutant that had no resemblance to his comics’ counterpart. Still, X-film producer Lauren Shuler Donner wasn’t deterred. In 2010 she told Empire the Deadpool film would ignore the events of X-Men Origins: Wolverine and reintroduce the character. MTV learned that Robert Rodriguez was in line to direct the film but decided to pursue other projects. In 2011, The Hollywood Reporter announced that visual effects producer Tim Miller was hired to direct with Ryan Reynolds set to star. The film gained little traction until 2014 when Miller’s visual effects test footage and proof of concept was leaked online, sending Deadpool fans into a frenzy and proving to Fox that they could indeed make money off the property. Later that year, Variety announced that Deadpool was set for release on February 12th, 2015. Any fear that the project would fall through again came to an end once the cameras started rolling and the first set pics of Ryan Reynolds in a comic accurate costume first appeared online.

Marvel Comics

Marvel Comics

The Tone: In order to capture all of Deadpool’s violent methods and raunchy humor, the film will receive a hard-R, an unprecedented move in the superhero movie landscape. And instead of opting for dirty realism like the Punisher films, Deadpool will cling to its comic book roots and establish a world of color, superpowers, and big-budget action. The film will fit into Fox’s X-Universe, but since those films don’t really fit together in any understandable timeline, I’m not exactly sure how that will pan out. Based on everything I’ve heard and seen, I think it’s a safe bet that Deadpool will take place in modern time or X-Men’s “not too distant future,” instead of the First Class trilogy era. Given Deadpool’s awareness of his own fictional state, I wouldn’t be surprised if the film plays fast and loose with how it fits into the other X-films and allows the character to comment on his appearance in the first Wolverine film. With the surplus of comic book movies coming out within the next five years, Deadpool will have to establish itself as something different outside of its R-rating. If the film really does stick to the Joe Kelly and Daniel Way runs, Deadpool will likely provide a meta-commentary on the nature of comic book movies, which if done right could be an absolute blast. Screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick proved to be great at this kind of commentary in Zombieland, but their work on the unforgivably dull G.I. Joe: Retaliation still leaves me with a measured amount of doubt. Ultimately, I’m hoping for something far closer to Matthews Vaugn’s Kick-Ass or Kingsmen than any of the previous X-Men films. If Deadpool succeeds, it could raise the bar for the kind of content superhero movies can include, which will only help diversify the genre.

Confirmed Characters:

Deadpool

Giuseppe Camuncoli (Marvel Comics)/20th Century Fox

Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds): Former Special Forces Agent Wade Wilson, traveled the world as a mercenary before cancer cut his career short and ruined his personal life. He was given the chance to live by the Weapon X Program which gifted him with a healing factor derived from Wolverine, in exchange for Wade’s commitment to their covert operations. But Weapon X’s experiments left Wade horribly scarred, partially amnesiac, immune to telepathy, and mentally unstable due to the accelerated regeneration of his neurons. Despite being able to heal from an injury, Wade’s behavior became erratic and unpredictable, turning him into something Weapon X could not control. After being rejected from Weapon X, Wade was sent to a hospice for superhumans. There he was tortured by Dr. Killebrew and his assistant Ajax, who placed bets in a ‘deadpool’ to determine how long each patient could survive. After shooting Ajax, Wade escaped and took up the name Deadpool. He bounced around as an enforcer and assassin for various crime bosses before becoming a mercenary who follows his own path, somewhere between good and bad. Due to Deadpool’s own psychosis and overly talkative nature, his story lacks the straightforward narrative beats of most other costumed characters. Continuity, origins, intentions, and even death are all played around with to ultimately create a character who thrives on the random nature of life, the complicated tropes of comic books, and his catchphrase ‘chimchangas.’ Some of these creative decisions are a giant headache, but a good chunk of them are pretty fun. While he may have begun as an imitation of another character, Deadpool has carved out an identity entirely unlike anyone else in comics. I expect Ryan Reynolds, a longtime fan of the character, to nail it in every way possible. This may well be the role he was born to play.

Where we’ve seen him before: Besides X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Deadpool briefly appeared in X-Men: The Animated Series, guest starred in the animated Ultimate Spider-Man, where he was voiced by Boy Meets World’s Will Friedle, and had a major role in the animated short film, Hulk vs Wolverine, where he was voiced by Nolan North. Deadpool has also appeared in a number of video games, including a self-titled one in 2010.

Marvel Comics/20th Century Fox

Marvel Comics/20th Century Fox

Copycat (Morena Baccarin): The naturally blue-skinned mutant shapeshifter, Vanessa Carlysle, first appeared in New Mutants #98 in 1991 under the guise of Domino. Vanessa met Wade when she was prostituting in Boston and the two fell in love before cancer and the Weapon X Program tore them apart. Vanessa eventually became a mercenary herself and posed as the mutant Domino in order to infiltrate Cable’s X-Force under orders to kill them. She became attached to the team and Deadpool was sent to expose her. After she was exposed, she posed as different women in order to wreak havoc on Deadpool’s life. She was killed by Slayback but subsequently healed by Deadpool’s blood. She later became the owner of a chimichanga stand for the sake of the LOLs. In the film, Vanessa will still be the love interest of Deadpool, but it’s unknown if she will be a mutant and get in on any of the action herself.

Where we’ve seen her before: Copycat appeared briefly in X-Men: The Animated Series. Her name also appears on Stryker’s computer in X2.

Marvel Comics/20th Century Fox

Marvel Comics/20th Century Fox

Ajax (Ed Skerin): The enforcer who helped torture Deadpool at the superhuman hospice the Workshop, first appeared in Deadpool #14 in 1998. In addition to superhuman strength and speed, Dr. Killebrew’s experiments left Ajax without the ability to feel pain. Though he was seemingly killed in Deadpool’s escape from the Workshop, he returned years later and hunted down members of the Weapon X Program in an effort to find Deadpool and kill him. Seeking redemption, Dr. Killebrew tried to help Deadpool kill Ajax but was killed in the process. Deadpool eventually defeats Ajax by snapping his neck. In the film, Ajax will serve as the primary antagonist, and for simplicity’s sake, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s turned into a mutant instead of an experimental super-soldier.

Where we’ve seen him before: Deadpool will be the character’s first appearance outside of comics.

Marvel Comics/20th Century Fox

Marvel Comics/20th Century Fox

Weasel (T.J. Miller): Deadpool’s best friend, information broker, and arms dealer, Jack Hammer a.k.a. Weasel, first appeared in Deadpool: The Circle Chase #1 in 1993. Turned to a life of crime by Deadpool during a time traveling incident, Weasel has been a near constant supporting character in Deadpool’s world. He’s defined by his cowardice and distaste for violence, making him a foil for Deadpool and the butt of his jokes. Despite years of friendship, Deadpool’s abuse and threat to Weasel life caused him to turn on Deadpool and become his adversary. It looks like T.J. Miller will provide the film with a surplus of comic-relief, weapons, and means for banter.

Where we’ve seen him before: Weasel is a non-playable character in the video game Marvel: Ultimate Alliance.

Marvel Comics/Universal Pictures

Marvel Comics/Universal Pictures

Angel Dust (Gina Carano): The teenage mutant Angel Dust first appeared in Morlocks #1 in 2002. She’s a minor character who was a member of the Morlocks, a group of mutants who lived underground in fear of rejection from society. Though she feared her parents would hate her, they accepted her regardless of her mutation and she left the Morlocks to return home. During the storyline House of M, which saw 90% of the mutant population lose their powers, Angel Dust was one of the affected mutants. The film’s use of Angel Dust seems to be mainly based around her ability to briefly spike her adrenaline levels to gain super strength. In the film, she will be a villain and, other than the codename and power-set, it appears Carano’s take on the character will have little in common with her comic counterpart.

Where we’ve seen her before: Deadpool will be the character’s first appearance outside of comics.

John Cassady (Marvel Comics)/20th Century Fox

John Cassady (Marvel Comics)/20th Century Fox

Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand): Ellie Phimster/ Negasonic Teenage Warhead first appeared in New X-Men #115 in 2001. The mutant telepath prone to precognitive nightmares was killed by a terrorist attack on the mutant nation of Genosha, almost immediately after she appeared. In the overly complex Necrosha event, she was briefly resurrected before dying again. There’s a lot of room to go with her character in Deadpool, and given her outfit, it seems likely that she’s already a member of the X-men, or perhaps a member of the upcoming New Mutants film.

Where we’ve seen her before: Deadpool will be the character’s first appearance outside of comics.

Terry Dodson (Marvel Comics)/20th Century Fox

Terry Dodson (Marvel Comics)/20th Century Fox

Colossus (Andre Tricoteux): The popular Russian mutant with the ability to transform into metal first appeared in Giant-Size X-Men #1 in 1975. A longtime member of the X-Men, Colossus isn’t considered to be a major player in Deadpool’s stories, though the two have met on occasion. Colossus is typically depicted as a peaceful man with a strong commitment to family, which could provide an interesting source of conflict with Deadpool in the film. Despite being a major player in the X-books and an all-around likeable and visually interesting character, he’s not a particularly deep or engaging one. On a parallel world where Ultimate X-Men took place, Colossus was a gay arms smuggler for the Russian mafia before joining the X-Men. This could be the direction the film takes with the character given Deadpool’s nickname for him in the leaked Comic-Con trailer and the film’s weapons heavy plot. Since Colossus has already played a supporting role in the previous X-Men films, it’ll be interesting to see how that continuity will work out, or if it will even be addressed at all.

Where we’ve seen him before: Daniel Cudmore played the character in X2, X-Men: The Last Stand, and X-Men: Days of Future Past. He has also appeared in every X-Men animated show and the majority of video games.

Marvel Comics/20th Century Fox

Marvel Comics/20th Century Fox

Blind Al (Leslie Uggams): The former member of British Intelligence, Blind Al first appeared in Deadpool #1 in 1997. Wade was hired to kill Althea in his days as a mercenary pre-Weapon X, but he allowed her to escape. Once Wade became Deadpool, he captured Al and kept her as a captive in his house where she served as his confidant, housekeeper, and prisoner. Though Deadpool uses her to play tricks on and teases her with freedom, Al’s sharp wit frequently keeps Deadpool in check. Eventually he declares her free but she refuses to leave so Deadpool teleports her away. Out of all the weird relationships in the Deadpool books, this is one of the weirdest. While it hasn’t been confirmed if Al will be a prisoner in the movie, she’s sure to give Deadpool some competition when it comes to vulgar language.

Where we’ve seen her before: Deadpool will be the character’s first appearance outside of comics.

So that’s it! Deadpool talks his way into theatres on February 16th, 2015.

Featured Image: Marvel Comics Database/Wikipedia