Deadpool (Wade Wilson) is best known as the wise-cracking, fourth-wall breaking mercenary with a bad skin condition and super-human regeneration capacity, and his upcoming R-rated movie Deadpool has become one of the most anticipated comic-book movies of 2016.
But why is Deadpool the way he his? A man with a tormented origin, his tendency to break the fourth-wall has been theorised as a symptom of his mental illness: a coping strategy that he uses to deal with the reality of his existence. In pop-culture he's a funny anti-hero, but the truth of his character is far darker than you would imagine...
The 2012 onwards run of Deadpool saw the titular merc facing off against the Butler (Bartol Utler). A former member of the Weapon Plus program, the Butler became obsessed with Deadpool as he believed he held the key to curing his sister's cancer.
During the Original Sin crossover event (which centers around the murder of the Watcher Uatu) it's revealed that the Butler erased Deadpool's memory and, as part of the experiments to see how far he could manipulate him, sent him to kill his parents. Which he does by burning down their house, not knowing that it's his own family that he's been sent to kill.
Deadpool doesn't know that this has happened however, due to having his memory tampered with, which is probably a small mercy.
Eleanor & Carmelita
As part of this ongoing scheme the Butler kidnapped the daughter that Deadpool didn't know about, Eleanor, and her mother Carmelita, using them as leverage to keep Deadpool captive and experiment upon. (He kidnapped Wolverine and Captain America too, just for good measure.)
The extent of his manipulation was later revealed when Deadpool discovered that the Butler had actually given the young Eleanor to his brother to raise as his own daughter, and that the experiments he had performed upon Deadpool had caused his sporadic memory loss.
Deadpool eventually killed the Butler, but not before finding Carmelita's corpse in a prisoner camp, frantically searching the pile of bodies for fear that he would find Eleanor there.
And this isn't the first time he's held the dead body of a lover either, longtime on-off girlfriend and sometime antagonist Copycat (Vanessa Carlysle) was killed by Sabertooth and died in Deadpool's arms, but not before she confessed her undying love for him.
Typhoid Mary, a mutant with psionic powers and dissociative identity disorder, is a super-villain enemy of both Deadpool and Daredevil, and she plays a part in another disturbing story in the Deadpool comics.
In Deadpool #13 Wade is having somewhat of a crisis of self, fearing that he's a bad person and seeking validation. He turns to his friend/love interest Syrin (Theresa "Terry" Cassidy, later known as Banshee) and confesses his vulnerability and feelings for her, telling her that he needs her.
She rejects him romantically but they decide to stay friends. Deadpool stays up all night drowning his sorrows but suddenly Syrin appears, tells him that she needs him too and kisses him. They sleep together, but when Wade awakens the following morning Syrin reveals herself to be the twisted Typhoid Mary in disguise.
Realising that he's just been sexually assaulted, Deadpool is understandably traumatised, and when he asks why Mary did it she replies: "Because I could, lover" and licks his face. Talk about insult to injury.
When his friend/housekeeper/prisoner Blind Al finds him sitting on the floor of his bathroom she enquires as to whats going on, he replies "Al... Can... Can you hand me a towel... Please... I need to take a shower."
Also, in Deadpool MAX (which is worth noting does have a separate continuity from the Deadpool canon) we're told that the young Wade, growing up in a violent and abusive household, was molested by his mother and beaten half to death by his father when he found out, hospitalising him.
Given the angle 20th Century Fox is shooting for with 2016's Deadpool, it's unlikely that we're going to see any of the above storylines being included in the feature film, but they serve as a reminder that beneath the mask things are not always as they seem.
Deadpool will be released February 12th 2016.