Deadpool has proved to be a unique character in the crowded field of cinema’s superheroes with its graphic violence and gleeful profanity. But how would the hero work if we were to take away the extreme violence and liberal use of F-bombs? Well, audiences will have a chance to find out with Once Upon A Deadpool, the PG-13 edit of Deadpool 2 which returns to theaters for a limited engagement. Once Upon A Deadpool is the third cut of director David Leitch’s comic book sequel released this year, following the original theatrical cut and the extended unrated cut on the Blu-ray. If anything, Once Upon A Deadpool proves just how much violence and profanity are part of the charms of this eccentric superhero and toning it down yields diminished results.
The only thing new within Once Upon A Deadpool aside from the rating are scenes where Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) reads the story of his sequel to a kidnapped Fred Savage in an homage to The Princess Bride. Other than that, it’s mostly the same movie with Cable (Josh Brolin) travelling back in time to kill young Firefist (Juilian Dennison). Deadpool briefly teams up with some familiar X-Men, including Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) but then he burns that bridge and winds up forming his own group, X-Force, headlined by the lucky mutant Domino (Zazie Beetz).
It’s apparent early on that the taming of Deadpool isn’t working well. It feels so off in the first scene of the reedited film where the Merc with a Mouth is slaying countless bad guys with guns and swords and their bodies just flail about with no blood or wounds visible. Later on, the edits become jarring. Some sequences conclude with abrupt cuts to remove any glimpse of gore. As someone who doesn’t care too much for the character and the novelty of a swearing superhero, the violence and profanity is so much a part of the fabric of the character that removing it makes him just a wiseass standing amidst a sea of sanitized violence. How boring.
The only thing worth while in Once Upon A Deadpool are the scenes with Deadpool and Fred Savage. The unexpected duo provide a lot more laughs than the toned down edit of Deadpool 2. The Princess Bride structure works and the two exchange some meta banter about the state of superhero movies, the future of 20th Century Fox after the Disney purchase, as well as the rights issues between Fox and Marvel. One particular instance that stands out is when Savage asks Deadpool about the fridging of Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), Deadpool’s girlfriend, where she’s killed in order to motivate the anti-hero. It’s the kind of commentary that should’ve been in the original film and is one of the few areas where Once Upon A Deadpool is able to rectify the mistakes of the original cut.
There are lengthy stretches where the rehash of this summer’s sequel continues uninterrupted and you find yourself bored as you wait for the return of Deadpool and Savage. I honestly feared that these scenes would be tedious and excessive, but they’re the best thing about this blatant attempt to milk a movie for just a little bit more money.
While the scenes with Fred Savage are absolutely hilarious, they’re not enough to warrant a recommendation for a neutered version of Deadpool 2. The people behind Once Upon A Deadpool have stated that a portion of the proceeds will go to charity, which is nice, but it doesn’t change the fact that this is a simple cash grab. Unless you’re just the biggest fan of Deadpool 2, there’s no need to see what is ostensibly an exaggerated TV edit. Removing the over-the-top violence and profanity really illustrates just how unremarkable Deadpool 2 really is, and it’s not much fun to rewatch a cleaned up version of a gleefully vulgar film.
Once Upon A Deadpool
- Overall Score
An unnecessary, cleaned up version of the violent and profane Deadpool 2, Once Upon A Deadpool may feature some hilarious scenes between Deadpool and a kidnapped Fred Savage, but not enough to make this PG-13 version worth your time.