Deadpool superfan Robert Clauff, a 35-year-old Omahan, dressed as his favorite comic book character.

Comic book fans love Deadpool, now more than ever.

He’s one of the most beloved characters in the history of the medium — No. 45 in Empire’s list of the 50 greatest comic book characters and No. 31 in IGN’s top 100.

He’s the red-clad, wisecracking, morally flexible, frequently insane and fourth-wall-breaking anti-hero who is perhaps most notable for being the comic book character who realizes he’s a comic book character. A lot of readers just dig the dude’s unconventional brand of superhero-ing.

“I feel like he’s one of those entry characters for a lot of people,” said PJ Hunsicker, who works at Legend Comics & Coffee. “There’s some quality to him that anybody who’s unfamiliar with comics seems to gravitate towards.”

Hunsicker’s co-worker, R.C. Schmidt, has been a fan of the character for a while, but he said Deadpool wasn’t all that interesting in the very beginning — Wade Wilson’s Deadpool was initially intended as Marvel’s wink to the DC Comics character Slade Wilson, aka Deathstroke.

“It’s been fun to watch this evolution of this character who went from being a one-note parody of a DC character to not only a full-fledged character in his own right but someone that has resonated with readers of all ages” — kids come in asking for Deadpool comics; sellers tell them to come back with a parent.

Legend Comics co-owner David DeMarco said he’s been seeing the character’s popularity rise for years now. He attributes that not to the movie so much as writers Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan’s hysterical run on the character, which wrapped in 2015.

“That was phenomenal,” DeMarco said. “That was perfect. Being able to recommend that to people ticked (Deadpool) to where he’s now like up in the top tier of Marvel properties.

“The movie certainly will not hurt. It looks great. I’m excited for the Deadpool superfans.”

Deadpool superfans like Robert Clauff, 35.

Wilson has long been Clauff’s favorite character, all the way back to “New Mutants” in the ’90s. Clauff dresses up as Deadpool for cons and other events.

“He just does crazy things that nobody would ever think of doing,” he said. “That’s how he catches people off guard. That was always a very cool element to me. That’s what I dug about it. He could always take out some of the best because he was an out-of-the-box thinker to the point of being crazy.”

Clauff hopes the movie nails that aspect of Deadpool’s character.

“The movie does look to be extremely promising.”

* * *

About Deadpool

Real name: Wade Wilson

Created by: Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza

First appearance: “New Mutants” #98 (1990)

Occupation: Mercenary

Played by: Ryan Reynolds, reprising the role he played in 2009’s abysmal handling of the character in the just plain abysmal “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”

Backstory (in the movie, anyway): Wilson, a former Special Forces operative, is diagnosed with terminal cancer. With the promise of a cure, he signs up for a shady experiment that leaves him horribly scarred but with accelerated healing abilities. When his girlfriend is abducted by the same villains who created him, the superhero now known as Deadpool sets off to rescue her, insulting then killing everyone in his way.

Character traits: Great with swords, guns and pretty much any other manner of murdering people. One of the mouthiest and most sarcastic characters in all of comic-book-dom. He also frequently breaks the fourth wall and provides running commentary to most of his exploits. Deadpool is known as the Merc with a Mouth.

Other characters:

Vanessa Carlysle (played by Morena Baccarin): Wilson’s girlfriend

Weasel (T.J. Miller): Wilson’s best friend

Ajax (Ed Skrein): Villain responsible for experiment on Wilson

Angel Dust (Gina Carano): Ajax’s superpowered henchwoman

Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand): Superpowered ally to Deadpool

Colossus (Stefan Kapicic): Another Deadpool ally, one who has the ability to turn his body into steel

Other facts about the movie

→ “Deadpool” was directed by Tim Miller and written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, who both penned “Zombieland.”

→ It is the eighth film in 20th Century Fox’s “X-Men” series and takes place in the same universe and timeline — though it appears Deadpool’s story in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” is being cast into the “let’s pretend it never happened” pile.

→ “Deadpool’s” hard-R rating is too hard for China, which has banned the film from release due to its violence, nudity and graphic language. The Chinese film market will commonly edit out movies’ objectionable content for release, but a source told the Hollywood Reporter that “Deadpool” is so consistently naughty that cutting out all the objectionable footage would make the plot incomprehensible.

→ Yet there’s an even more extreme version of “Deadpool” on the way. According to actor T.J. Miller, an unrated director’s cut of the film will be released on home video.

→ Whatever the ultimate quality of the movie, “Deadpool’s” marketing campaign was unquestionably genius. Like its character, the film has refused to take itself seriously in its promotion. With ribald movie standees, meta references to Reynolds’ role in the disastrous “Green Lantern” and billboards that have 1) portrayed the film as a Valentine’s Day romance and 2) used nothing but emojis, “Deadpool” has let the spirit of the character take the wheel of the marketing.

→ And he’s driving it straight into box office gold. “Deadpool” is expected to gross more than $55 million this weekend.

R-rated superhero movies

“Deadpool” might be the most prominently hard-R superhero movie thus far, but it’s certainly not the first. Here are a few of the best and bloodiest comic book adaptations:

“Blade” (1998) and “Blade II” (2002)

“Sin City” (2005)

“300” (2006)

“Kick-Ass” (2010)

“Watchmen” (2009)

“The Crow” (1994)

“Wanted” (2008)

“Kingsman” (2015)

“Punisher: War Zone” (2008)

“Dredd” (2012)

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