You might have caught a Super Bowl ad where Ryan Reynolds, dressed up like Spider-Man gone luchador, cracks wise while punting a ninja’s head and hurling a sword at a motorcycle. In Deadpool, opening this Friday, he’s reprising his supporting role from 2009 stinker X-Men Origins: Wolverine and taking another stab at headlining a superhero blockbuster after 2011’s borderline disastrous Green Lantern.

Reynolds is better suited to play Deadpool, Marvel Comics’s quippy antiherothe “merc with a mouth,” to those in the knowthan DC Comics’s interstellar authority figure, but the odds still seem stacked against the movie. An undead, mutilated psycho in an R-rated action-comedy that opens on Valentine’s Day weekend? That’s a far-out choice for franchise building.

Daniel Way, who lives in Morrisville, might know the character better than anyone else. He holds the record for writing the most consecutive Deadpool comicssixty-five issues, from 2008 to 2012. After consulting with director Tim Miller, offering script, story, and characterization feedback, Way is certain of one thing.

“This is the Deadpool we know from the comics,” he says. “This is our boy, Wade Wilson.”

Wilson is a special forces operative with terminal cancer who receives an experimental treatment with monkey’s paw-like consequences. Along with accelerated healinghe basically can’t diehe gets disfigured skin (“like an avocado had sex with an older avocado,” as someone says in the trailer) and an unstable mind. He becomes Deadpool and hunts down the scientist who saved his life by ruining it.

“[The film] covers the origin pretty quickly but really well,” Way says. “If you want more, I would say to go the comic book store, because it’s all there in graphic detail.”

When Deadpool first appeared in X-Men-related titles twenty-five years ago, he was fully a product of the day’s macho, juvenile comics style: a violent enigma in a costume dripping with superfluous pouches and ammo clips, uttering badass one-liners. But he slowly grew more complex, sprouting an elaborate backstory, multiple personalities, and a penchant for fourth-wall-breaking humor. These characteristics were developed by writers collaborating in the uniquely serial style of superhero comics.