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New ‘Deadpool’ Movie is PG-13, Stars Fred Savage, Has Little New Footage

This is either really great or really cynical.

21st Century Fox

It’s hard to hate Ryan Reynolds. He’s consistently funny, self-deprecating, and always seemingly a little in-on-the-joke of his own status as a superstar. This is part of why he’s perfect to play the titular anti-hero in the two films Deadpool and Deadpool 2. But now, Reynolds will star in a third Deadpool movie, which will weirdly come out next month, just in time for Christmas. But, there’s a slightly strange spin on all of this. This won’t really be a new movie, but instead, a repackaging of last summer’s Deadpool 2, watered-down for a kid-friendly audience. Confused? Here’s the deal.

On May 18, 2018, the sequel to Deadpool  — Deadpool 2 — was released. Starring Reynolds as a superhero/assassin, the film franchise holds a somewhat unique distinction among comic book movies, insofar as the films are marketed at an adult-audience exclusively. Both Deadpool films had tie-in marketing with alcohol brands (Mikes Hard Lemonade) and the films are rated-R for profanity, violence and all sorts of stuff you’d expect in a rated-R movie. Notably, the standalone X-Men film Logan was also rated-R and was produced by 21st Century Fox, who owns the rights to create movies based on characters from the X-Men comics. This makes Deadpool a part of the X-Men movie continuity, which, up until the Deadpool franchise and Logan, consisted of movies that were not rated-R. But, everything changed just a few months after Deadpool 2 hit theaters: Disney merged with Fox.

For fans of Marvel comic book heroes, this news potentially meant that the X-Men characters (like Wolverine and Deadpool) could now appear in the Marvel Studios Avengers films. Predictably, Ryan Reynolds has made jokes about this kind of thing for years. But, seemingly as a direct result of this merger, there will now be a PG-13, semi-family safe (read: Disney) version of Deadpool 2 in theaters THIS YEAR.

That’s what the “new” Deadpool movie — Once Upon a Deadpool — actually is: a re-cut, re-framed, edited-for-profanity version of a movie that already came out this year.

“Fox has been asking for a PG-13 basically since the start in 2006,” Reynolds said in an interview with Deadline. “I’ve said ‘no’ since 2006. Now, this one time, I said ‘Yes’” How this will all work? According to Reynolds, the majority of the movie will be repurposed footage from Deadpool 2 but edited to omit any violence or profanity that gave the movie an R-rating the first time. This framing mechanism will apparently involve actor Fred Savage, who many of us will remember from The Wonder Years.  “I said ‘Yes’ on two conditions, Reynolds explains. “First, a portion of the proceeds had to go to charity. Second, I wanted to kidnap Fred Savage.”

So, Once Upon a Deadpool will riff on the bedtime story framing mechanism from The Princess Bride, which famously featured Savage back when he was a kid.

Can you take your kids to see Once Upon a Deadpool? Maybe, assuming they’re old enough for a PG-13 movie. But, if you do, $1 from every ticket sold will go to cancer charities, specifically Fuck Cancer, which Reynolds has promised will be named “Fudge Cancer” while the movie is out.

Once Upon a Deadpool will be out on December 12 in limited release in theaters.