In case you've missed the deluge of trailers, emoji billboards and geo-targeted teasers heralding the arrival of the Deadpool movie, gird yourselves, because Marvel Comics' Wade Wilson is about to invade multiplexes around the world again.
Ever since Deadpool first appeared as a supporting comic book character back in the early '90s, he's been on a slow march to pop culture dominance. The fan-favourite character made his big-screen debut in 2009, played by Ryan Reynolds in a prequel of Fox's X-Men franchise called "X-Men Origins: Wolverine". It's OK if you don't remember it; most of us wish we didn't either.
But if you do remember the role that made Van Wilder question his career path, fear not, because Ryan Reynolds is back, and "Deadpool" is a much more faithful adaptation of the "Merc with a Mouth". He now actually has a mouth, for one. (Yes, he had no mouth in the X-Men film.)
Rather than get hung up on questions like "Why would a character called 'The Merc with a Mouth' have no mouth?" keep reading to learn just who Deadpool is, and why you should join the fans eagerly anticipating the movie's global release this week.
If you're all caught up, be sure to check out our review of "Deadpool," and test your Deadpool knowledge in our quiz below.
Marvel? So he's an Avenger?
Not quite. Remember how we said he first appeared in an X-Men movie? Well that's because Fox owns the movie rights to Deadpool and his world.
In the comics, Deadpool is now officially an Avenger. But on screen, Deadpool is not a part of the, and has no interaction with those characters. This new film is a standalone movie all about the fourth-wall-breaking insane "superhero."
Tapping into that X-Men connection, Colossus (the guy with metal skin in the X-Men movies) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (another mutant with possibly the best superhero name of all time) also make appearances in the upcoming movie.
But who is this crazy masked man?
Solving for X
At his best, Deadpool is a surprisingly deep character trying to overcome his past and be a hero, despite the fact he's not very good at it. At worst, at least his incessant wackiness and pop culture references are good for a laugh.
Deadpool was created for Marvel Comics in 1990 by Fabian Nicieza and Rob Liefeld. Wade Wilson was something of a sendup of DC Comics character Slade Wilson, aka Deathstroke (because you do a death stroke in the dead pool). For all you fans of The CW's "Arrow", yes, that Deathstroke.
Here's the short version of his origin story: Wade Wilson was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Rather than go gently into the good night, he signed up for the Weapon X program, hoping crazy comic book science could cure him.
Weapon X -- the same military program responsible for Wolverine's metal claws and skeleton -- cured Wade, granting him the ability to regenerate from almost any physical trauma. But it also gave him one hell of a skin condition and made him completely insane because his brain cells constantly die and rejuvenate to stave off the tumor that nearly killed him.
His newfound healing abilities, along with his Special Forces training and the unshakable moral ambiguity that sits at the core of all comic book characters created in the '90s, turned him into Deadpool, aka Merc with a Mouth.
Here's where it gets weird
Deadpool is also fully aware that he's a character in a comic book, routinely breaking the fourth wall and addressing the audience. He'll make meta jokes, drop pop culture references and hold conversations with his own thought bubbles and caption boxes. Sometimes he'll comment on how many different monthly titles Wolverine appears in.
Though he's gone to some dark places in his past, the character always seems to bring it back to comedy. His violent tendencies haven't exactly leveled out, but over the years they've been increasingly played for humour, rather than brutality.
And fans are totally ready to see that brand of comedy on the big screen. After more than a decade, superhero movies are rife for parody, meta comedy and ultraviolent slapstick.
Sure, previous comic book movies have winked and nudged, but (spoiler) "Deadpool" will grab you and head-butt you in earnest. Probably while making jokes about it.
"Deadpool" opens in the UK on February 10, Australia on February 11, and the US on February 12.