Once Upon A Deadpool takes the very R-rated Deadpool 2, adds Fred Savage and edits it down to a PG-13, but does it work? Part of the reason the original Deadpool proved such a hit in 2016 was partly due to its R-rating, which let the Merc with a Mouth let loose with the F-bombs and enhanced gore. An R-rated superhero movie was particularly refreshing after a long spell of PG-13 offerings, and it allowed the character to cut loose after literally having his mouth sewn shut during his live-action debut in X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
Deadpool 2 continued in this vein, upping the budget and brutality to the continued delight of audiences. The Deadpool movies have grossed over $1 billion combined, but with that level of success, the question of whether or not they'd be even bigger if they were PG-13 will always crop up. Ryan Reynolds and writers Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese have fought for an R-rating from the very beginning, but with Disney's impending ownership of Fox’s franchises, there’s a chance Wade Wilson's antics will be cleaned up so he can be placed in the MCU.
Related: Once Upon A Deadpool Movie Review
This is where Once Upon A Deadpool comes in. This new version of Deadpool 2 adds cutaway scenes where Deadpool kidnaps actor Fred Savage, aiming to recreate the bedtime story framing device from The Princess Bride. For the most part, however, the story plays out the same way as Deadpool 2 with re-edits to remove blood and swearing. While Fox and Marvel Studio will no doubt be monitoring the response to this PG-13 take on the franchise, does Once Upon A Deadpool do enough to justify its existence? Let's examine what the movie adds – and subtracts – and if this experiment was successful.
- This Page: All The Changes In Once Upon A Deadpool
- Page 2: Does Deadpool Work As PG-13?
What Was Added To Once Upon A Deadpool
The main addition to Once Upon A Deadpool is the Fred Savage framing device, which comprises around 15-20 minutes of new footage spread throughout the movie. Thankfully these scenes prove to be a real treat, with Savage and Reynolds sharing great comic chemistry. These scenes allow the filmmakers to add another level of meta-comedy, with Savage calling out criticisms aimed at the movie such as the killing – or "fridging" - of Deadpool’s girlfriend Vanessa or the "lazy writing" gag being no excuse for actual lazy writing. His extensive breakdown of Cable’s backstory is also a delight. Of course, as a storytelling device it adds little and even upsets the pacing of the original footage, but if there’s one solid reason to catch this version, it would be for the Savage scenes.
Once Upon A Deadpool also adds deleted/alternate scenes to mix things up. There’s a deleted scene in the X-Mansion of Wade labeling food in the fridge and telling Negosonic and Yukio how much he’s changed. This scene also sets up a gag about Colossus trying to use a soap dispenser and Wade telling him he just filled it up. Wade reveals a few scenes later that it wasn’t really soap he filled it with, in a gag whose implications push the border of the PG-13 rating to its limit. There’s also an extended scene of Wade trying to commit suicide, first by diving into a polar bear enclosure and then being interrupted shooting himself on a park bench by an elderly couple.
What Was Changed In Once Upon A Deadpool
Deadpool 2 positively reveled in its R-rating, so a PG-13 version needed a lot of trimming to pass muster. Needless to say all F-words are gone, with Deadpool even joking the only F-bomb in the film will be "Fred Savage". The removal of the cursing isn’t particularly graceful at times; it's fine with Deadpool since his mouth is covered most of the movie, but other characters are clearly seen mouthing F-bombs that have been dubbed over. To accommodate the new framing sequence, Once Upon A Deadpool had to make narrative adjustments too. The opening scenes of Wade committing gory assassinations and the James Bond parody title sequence are both gone, and there are other minor tucks to fit in the Fred Savage interludes.
Then there are some alternate gags, like Weasel (TJ Miller) giving a shout out to John Wick 3 while discussing assembling X-Force (a nod to director David Leitch co-directing the original John Wick). That aside, most of the new material isn’t as strong as the theatrical cut. There’s also some touching tributes to the recently departed Stan Lee. An R.I.P is added to the mural briefly glimpsed during the convey sequence, and there’s a lovely post-credit scene made up of footage shot for the Deadpool 2 teaser.
What Was Cut From Once Upon A Deadpool
David Leitch is an action movie veteran and he shot Deadpool 2 with a firm R-rating in mind. While Once Upon A Deadpool removes most of the blood and tones down the sound effects on punches and kicks, it still feels quite violent for a PG-13. Deadpool is still ripped in half by Juggernaut – with a cutaway and most of the blood detail removed – and most of X-Force still meet grisly ends, sans explicit gore. Toning down the violence removes some of the impact from these fights, and results in awkward cuts. Domino’s brutal fight with some Essex House guards, for instance, is made almost incoherent with the number of edits to remove violence.
Deadpool’s regenerating baby legs scene was a comic highlight in the original cut, and with the exception of his Basic Instinct style flash being blurred out, it remains intact. That said, Cable’s C-bomb was obviously removed from the same sequence. Also removed is the shot of Juggernaut’s pants being pulled down and Colossus ramming an electric wire into a place where an electric wire shouldn’t go. Additionally, while the opening scene featuring Deadpool committing suicide was cut to make way for the new framing device, it also eliminates shots of Deadpool smoking, which would have been another no-no for the rating.
Page 2 of 2: Does Deadpool Work As PG-13?
Was Once Upon A Deadpool Better As PG-13?
In short, no. Once Upon A Deadpool is still fun and the Fred Savage wraparounds work surprisingly well, but Deadpool 2 remains the superior version. Once Upon A Deadpool is a great idea for a DVD extra, but it doesn’t work as a standalone project. Deadpool 2 was written and shot with an R in mind, and the PG-13 cut is constantly pushing against those constraints. Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese have spoken of the time they wrote a PG-13 version of the original Deadpool, which was essentially the exact same story with milder violence and language. In that instance, they conceded that while it still worked, Deadpool is a character best suited to a higher rating.
In truth, Once Upon A Deadpool probably gets away with more than a typical comic book movie in regards to violence, but in a toss-up between the two versions, the R-rated cut wins every time. For super fans who are genuinely curious it’s just about worth checking out, but for those who’ve already seen Deadpool 2, there isn’t enough here to justify the price of a ticket. For parents who want to introduce their children to the character it also works, but again, it’s still pretty violent at times.
Once Upon A Deadpool Shows PG-13 Can Work
Once Upon A Deadpool feels like a grand experiment to test the waters of a PG-13 Deadpool ahead of the X-Men joining the MCU. For the price of a framing sequence shot on one set over the course of a few days and some re-edits, it's being sold as a whole new version. If nothing else, it shows a PG-13 version can work - but it’s not necessarily the best fit for the material either. A Deadpool movie should be foul-mouthed and chaotic, and in a PG-13 framework, the character feels boxed in. Maybe a Deadpool movie shot especially with that rating in mind could work in this regard.
Ultimately, Once Upon A Deadpool is a bizarre experiment that still kind of works. The framing device is a fun addition and most of the gags survive the transition intact. It’s doubtful fans – or Ryan Reynolds, for that matter – really want to see Deadpool turn PG-13, but this cut at least proves he can still function inside those restrictions. Whether or not he should is another question.