'X-Men' Spinoff 'Deadpool' Gets Winter 2016 Release Date

Ryan Reynolds Horizontal - H 2014
AP Images

Ryan Reynolds Horizontal - H 2014

At the the same time, Fox takes 'Assassin's Creed' off the summer 2015 calendar, while shifting 'The Fantastic Four' and 'Paper Towns'

Twentieth Century Fox and Marvel Comics are moving ahead with their long-gestating X-Men spinoff Deadpool.

On Thursday, the studio announced that the movie will hit theaters Feb. 12, 2016. Tim Miller is set to direct the film, with Ryan Reynolds long rumored to star, although no deal is set. (Bets are that he will.)

The beloved Marvel character Deadpool, aka Wade Wilson, is a talkative mercenary with a host of powers, including the ability to heal rapidly. Reynolds played Wilson in 2009's X-Men Origins: Wolverine, while Scott Adkins played the character of Deadpool after Wilson had transformed.

News of Deadpool's release comes weeks after test footage of the project leaked briefly online. The sequence, featuring Reynolds, was shot several years ago, but nevertheless sparked intense conversation on social media.

In a recent interview, Reynolds commented on the leak, suggesting it helped move the process along. "The movie has been in a state of limbo for a while. 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.' It's interesting to see the power of the Internet. It's awe-inspiring, actually," the actor told the Niagara Falls Review. "And it's neat that Twitter and Facebook and Instagram can move mountains when used in the right way."

Reynolds, whose turn as the superhero Green Lantern failed at the box office, has been linked to a potential Deadpool solo movie for years, even before he debuted as the character in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. His interest in the property dates back to 2003.

In announcing the Deadpool news, Fox also made other key changes to its release slate, including taking New Regency's Assassin's Creed off the 2015 summer calendar.

The adaptation of the Ubisoft video game, starring Michael Fassbender, was set to open Aug. 7 but won't be ready in time, according to insiders. The script has gone through several rewrites, while the production itself has grappled with scheduling issues. Fox insiders say Assassin's Creed will now hit theaters in 2016.

As a result, Josh Trank's Fantastic Four reboot will move from June 19, 2015, to the Aug. 7 spot, while YA film adaptation Paper Towns — based on the book by John Green — will move up from July 31, 2015, to June 19, the same corridor Fox used to release YA blockbuster The Fault in Our Stars, also based on a Green novel.

Fox is taking a cue from Disney and Marvel in relocating Fantastic Four to August, where Guardians of the Galaxy prospered this summer. For years, August was considered a dumping ground. If anything, Guardians proved that August has the benefit of being less crowded when it comes to tentpoles.