Non-fanboys want to know: Is Deadpool a real comic book character? Yes, the motormouthed antihero, played by Ryan Reynolds in his own self-titled movie that premiered Friday, is a real fictional character published by Marvel Comics.
One of the things that sets him apart is that he also knows he's a fictional character.
When he first appeared in a minor X-Men book in 1991, Deadpool was just another supervillain, with a healing factor like Wolverine's, an outfit like Spider-Man's and martial arts/weapons training like Elektra's. In short, he was derivative and unremarkable.
However, he eventually was awarded a series of series by some of the biggest writers in the business. They developed him past his one-note origin to a character who was crazy popular. Or just crazy. He constantly conversed with two other voices in his head, as well as the reader. That latter was used primarily for slapstick, especially with a lead character who could survive any injury — much like a cartoon character, which Deadpool came to resemble more and more.
Deadpool put the funny back in funny books — despite being a psychotic assassin.
Deadpool's back story goes like this: A professional assassin named Wade Wilson suffering from cancer went through the same Weapon X program Wolverine did, and gained healing powers. He can't be killed but the downside is that his neurons are constantly regenerating at an accelerated rate, making it impossible for him to think in a linear fashion.
Some notes on Deadpool's comics past:
• The series "Marvel Zombies" featured an alternate universe where all the heroes and villains had become the walking dead. That world's Deadpool had been decapitated, but being Deadpool, that wasn't enough to kill him for good. So Deadpool's zombie head — called "Headpool," naturally — found his way to our universe.
• A later series named "Deadpool Corps" teamed up Deadpool with other versions of himself that were largely unexplained, including not only Headpool but Lady Deadpool, Kid Deadpool and Dogpool.
• Other versions of Deadpool that have appeared over the years include Hulkpool (self-explanatory), Zenpool (a calm, centered Deadpool with a personality inverted by magic) and the Deadpool Kid (aka Kiddypool, a Wild West version).
How much of this back story will be used in "Deadpool" sequels (if any) is unknown. Producers definitely won't be taking from the version that appeared in "X-Men Origins: Wolverine." As it should be. The version of Deadpool in the comics is one that has inexplicably attained popularity, so that is the version the new movie is using. If we get Headpool, Dogpool or Kiddypool, that will just be a bonus.