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Fox to unleash ‘X-Men’ spinoff ‘Deadpool’ in February 2016

Deadpool, the wisecracking mercenary antihero, has proved just about unkillable in the pages of Marvel comics. His movie appears to be equally resilient: 20th Century Fox has announced it will release the long-gestating “X-Men” spinoff “Deadpool” on Feb. 12, 2016.

Tim Miller, a visual-effects artist who worked on “X-Men” and “X-Men 2,” is to direct “Deadpool.” Although no cast members have been announced, Ryan Reynolds has long been associated with the project and played a version of the character in 2009’s “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.”

Confirmation of “Deadpool’s” release comes on the heels of leaked test footage (shot years ago) that features Reynolds playing the character, a smart-mouthed assassin who wears a head-to-toe red suit and provides self-referential running commentary while doing his dirty work. (You can watch the footage, which would definitely be R-rated, on YouTube.)

Reynolds recently addressed the footage in an interview with the Niagra Falls Review, suggesting the leak could help get things rolling. “The movie has been in a state of limbo for a while,” he said. “There was such an overpowering reaction to the footage, you sort of feel like, ‘Oh, so we weren’t crazy for our reasons for loving this character, for loving this role.’”

He added, “It’s interesting to see the power of the Internet. It’s awe-inspiring, actually.”

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In building out its “X-Men” universe, Fox is keeping up with the superhero arms race between Disney’s Marvel Studios and Warner Bros., which is readying a lineup of DC Comics movies.

In addition to dating “Deadpool,” Fox also shifted some of its other releases, including taking the video game adaptation “Assassin’s Creed” off the calendar. The film starring Michael Fassbender was scheduled to hit theaters Aug. 7, 2015, but will presumably open on a later date.

Josh Trank’s “Fantastic Four” reboot will now open on the date vacated by “Assassin’s Creed,” moving the superhero movie back from June 19. And the young-adult romance “Paper Towns,” based on the John Green book,” will now open on that date, moving up from July 31, 2015.

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