How Different Is ‘Once Upon a Deadpool’ From ‘Deadpool 2’?
The following post contains SPOILERS for Once Upon a Deadpool. I’m not sure why you would want a post that explains the differences between Deadpool 2 and Once Upon a Deadpool without spoilers, but I’m not here to judge your life choices.
There may not be a more twisted joke in all of Once Upon a Deadpool than its title, since Fox already sold the audience this movie once. Despite the new name, Once Upon a Deadpool is little more than a watered-down version of Deadpool 2 with a couple clever wraparound segments featuring Ryan Reynolds and Fred Savage on a set lovingly recreated from the wraparound segments in The Princess Bride. Even by Deadpool standards, this is very meta stuff.
The Fred Savage scenes are the only significant addition Once Upon a Deadpool makes to Deadpool 2. For unexplained reasons, Deadpool (Reynolds) has kidnapped (or, as Deadpool likes to say, provided “unsolicited location enhancement” to) Savage and is forcing him to listen to a reading of the “King James Edition” of Deadpool 2. When we get a peak at the interior pages, they’re filled with crude crayon drawings.
Reynolds and Savage are funny together, and they make a fair number of appearances — I counted a dozen different brief scenes, most of which poke fun at Deadpool 2 plot holes or address criticism of the movie from last spring, including one where Fred Savage explains to Deadpool the concept of “fridging” female characters in superhero comics. (’Pool doesn’t seem to get it.)
Otherwise, all the major changes to Deadpool 2 are in the form of trims made to secure a PG-13 rating. The theatrical Deadpool 2 was a fairly hard R, with a lot of foul language and intense violence. Both get cut down significantly here. The former isn’t that big of a deal — it’s easy to redub the dialogue of a character who wears a mask over his entire face, and Reynolds actually turns bleeping the remaining profanity into a solid running gag. The latter is more of an issue; sapping the blood and bullets really hurts the action scenes. Not because I’m a bloodthirsty monster who craves graphic displays of death, but because director David Leitch put a lot of care into his action choreography, and removing most of the explicit imagery turns what’s left into a choppy, hard-to-follow mess.
The single best part of Deadpool 2 — the formation of X-Force and their hilariously disastrous first mission — is absolutely gutted by these changes. And some of the gnarliest and most creative beats don’t work at all now — if you missed the original cut of Deadpool 2, I’m not sure you’ll even make sense of the part where Deadpool commandeers a jeep by letting a bad guy shoot him in the hand. All the key visual information is gone. At times like that, Once Upon a Deadpool plays like a gussied-up airplane cut.
The only other change of note comes after the end credits. After the post-credits scene from the theatrical Deadpool 2 (Wade Wilson travels back in time and kills the version of himself that appears in X-Men Origins: Wolverine), and two more brief clips with Fred Savage that sort of almost kind of tie up his storyline, there’s a new tribute to Stan Lee. First, there are a couple of alternate takes and lines from his cameo in the “No Good Deed” short. (The best is “Hey, look! It’s Ryan Gosling!”) That’s followed by a montage of still photos of Stan from throughout his career, and an interview where he discusses his legacy and how he wants to be remembered. It’s an affectionate farewell to Marvel’s beloved figurehead, if a slightly odd one given that Stan Lee had nothing to do with the creation of Deadpool.
Once Upon a Deadpool isn’t necessarily bad — it’s just not necessary. And it’s certainly not enough of an improvement over the theatrical cut — or an improvement at all over the theatrical cut— to justify paying $15 to see it on a big screen. (It’s probably worth noting here that if you do go to see Once Upon a Deadpool, one dollar of every ticket will be donated to cancer research, so at least some of the proceeds are going to a good cause.) It’s kind of instructive as a film nerd to be able to compare the two cuts and see what you can and can’t get away with in a PG-13 movie. (Deadpool full frontal is a no-no, but a song with a chorus chanting “Holy s— balls” over and over is apparently fine.) Beyond that, there’s not much to it. Just because they called it Once Upon a Deadpool doesn’t mean it’s not an obvious double dip.
Gallery - Fox Franchises That Could Have New Life at Disney: